The Great Disaster” is an epic tale spanning many titles and manu years in the DC Universe. The stories in this volume are presented in chronological order within the DCU’s timeline rather than in the order of the issues’ original release dates. In addition, the stories are organized in five sections:

PRE-DISASTER WARNINGS
THE DAY AFTER DOOMSDAY
TALES OF THE ATOMIC KNIGHTS
THE GODS RETURN
MORE TALES OF THE POST-APOCALYPTIC WORLD
ALTERNATE ENDINGS

Happily for me, the collection includes “Costume, Costume, Who’s got the Costume” from Superman #295, a tie-in to Kamandi #29, often mentioned on this board but which I have never read. The collection highlights the Atomic Knights, but I’m not so hip about that because DC released a hardcover “DC Classics” edition of that material in color a couple of years ago, but I am pleased to see DC entire Hercules series under a single cover and presented in this context. Oddly (I thought), Jack Kirby’s Atlas was included in the “God’s Return” section, but I always imagined that to have taken place in an imaginary past (like Conan), rather than an imaginary future.

Obviously I haven’t read this yet since it shipped only yesterday, but I thought a detailed description of the contents might sway someone on the fence. This will be my weekend project, at least the “Pre-Disaster Warnings” section.

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I just read the "700 Years After the Bomb" stories and Superman #295, the first stories in Showcase Presents: The Great Disaster. So I'm keeping up with you, Jeff! Now that you've set up the alley, let me roll a ball ...

* For those who don't have the Showcase book, the reason Jeff (and I) started with the stories we did is because the Showcase does. Evidently they're going to try to show things in a timeline -- much like the Baron's work on this site -- rather than in the order published. So these four stories start the book under the heading "Pre-Disaster Warnings" although they were published much later than much of what constitutes the rest of the book.

* For example, the Superman story is published after Superman's uniform shows up in a Kamandi story published earlier (although taking place much later).

* For the record, these four stories take place in Weird War Tales #42-45 (Oct 75-Jan 76) and Superman #295 (Jan 76).

* The Weird War stories present something that I rarely see: A Marvel or DC story where I, your humble Captain, don't know the context. That's because I stopped buying Weird War around issue #10 or thereabouts, so I knew very little about that title when these stories ran. And since they have nothing to do with war, weird or otherwise, I don't know why they were there. Were the other stories in WWT in those days of a similar vein? Were these three stories House of Mystery inventory that got shoveled into a book that otherwise lived up to its title? I really don't know. These stories appear more or less in a vacuum for me, a feeling I haven't had for decades with a Marvel or DC title, current or reprint. Now THAT'S weird!

* The ending to the "700 Years After" stories was advertised the very first time the witch explained her spell. It was underscored in the later two stories, where anyone who mentioned her spell repeated that expository dialogue word for word. If you didn't know how that story was going to end, you haven't read enough Mort Weisinger stories. DC was so straitlaced in those days that it's "suspense" stories were rearely suspenseful. They usually played out as if the universe was consistently a just and fair place, and usually turned on wordplay that the hero (or reader) twigged to in order for the story to work.

* The "700 Years After the Bomb" stories explain, better than I did above, why I didn't consider any of these stories connected until DC said they were connected, which is still hard for me to swallow. Because:

  • The Atomic Knights stories, which were published in the 1950s, were set in 1992 after a nuclear apocalypse.
  • The Legion of Super-Heroes, which debuted in 1958, were set 1,000 years in the future, and everything was peachy.
  • Kamandi began in 1972 and was set in an unspecified time (as far as I know) after the Great Disaster, which Kirby took pains to explain was NOT nuclear in origin. And it took place no more than 40-60 years into the future, because Kamandi's grandfather was still alive in issue #1, and he was an adult with children before the apocalypse.
  • And here we have a sci-fi story in an anthology magazine (which never has any continuity) with a post-apocalyptic Medieval society, set exactly 700 years in the future, only 300 years before the the shiny, super-scientific future of the LSH. It also doesn't jibe with Kamandi, which is set a few hundred years earlier in story, but which debuted 3-4 years earlier in real time.

None of these futures can co-exist with each other, and as I said before, DC wasn't trying to make them fit together. They were just discrete possible futures, and the Li'l Capn had the "possible" in his mind with each of them. The Superman story really drives this home, where the Man of Steel sees that multiple futures can exist, one of which is Kamandi's world, which is different from the LSH world he knew as a youth. That's where the Li'l Capn's head was at when he read these stories the first time. It never occurred to him that the Atomic Knights, Kamandi, the Legion of Super-Heroes and the various futures used as set-ups for stories in various sci-fi and suspense anthologies could fit together. Honestly, they couldn't. And why would you try anyway?

The continuity bugbear made it all join up.

The thing about the Kamandi story with Superman's outfit is that it could be OUR future, the costume is from a fancy dress shop, and everyone has gotten confused over whether Superman is real or not and they think he might be out there somewhere and coming to save everyone some day.

There is much more pathos in this reading of Kirby's tale, and artistic merit, and it's a more pointed consideration of the Superman myth, both it's power, and its limits (ie he doesn't exist. :-(  ) than if it's set in continuity.  

Captain Comics said:

None of these futures can co-exist with each other, and as I said before, DC wasn't trying to make them fit together. They were just discrete possible futures, and the Li'l Capn had the "possible" in his mind with each of them. The Superman story really drives this home, where the Man of Steel sees that multiple futures can exist, one of which is Kamandi's world, which is different from the LSH world he knew as a youth. That's where the Li'l Capn's head was at when he read these stories the first time. It never occurred to him that the Atomic Knights, Kamandi, the Legion of Super-Heroes and the various futures used as set-ups for stories in various sci-fi and suspense anthologies could fit together. Honestly, they couldn't. And why would you try anyway?

I think this is the strength of the Hypertime concept. As much as I enjoy (well done) continuity, trying to force things into a single timeline is often a bad idea. If it is done elegantly it won't even seem forced, but this is uncommon. As an analogy, when I'm driving I don't assume people will follow the rules of the road. I'm pleasantly surprised when they do. I think it's best not to expect long-term continuity in today's comics. Getting around the expectation of continuity is probably why DC does so many reboots.

Kirby was being vague about if Superman was "real" in Kamandi. The point was that the gorillas and Kamandi believed that he was and that the costume was worth fighting for.

Of course, the costume was in great shape for over a thousand years old! ;-)

I always read OMAC as being set in the world that's coming--in other words, in the very near future--perhaps circa 1984. As Buddy Blank was Kamandi's grandfather, I would imagine that Earth After Disaster is set some thirty to forty years in OMAC'S future--or roughly fifty years in the future from when KAMANDI was published. That would make it circa the 2020's.

Tommy Tomorrow--according to some sources--was an alternate timeline counterpart of Kamandi. Originally, Tommy Tomorrow was set in the late 20th century, but eventually Tommy's stories were set in the 21st century. Maybe the 20th century Tommy Tomorrow is in a possible future for Earth-Two.

That Superman costume is probably where they got the idea for Vance Astro to find Captain America's shield.

Are we to assume that aliens from various Legion worlds ignored Earth during the Disaster, and refused to help during the giant dalmations and the animals taking over the world and everything, then suddenly decided after we started pulling ourselves back together to contact us about joining their federation or whatever they called it? Was it all a test to see, if we succeeded they'd let us join them, if not they'd just let us destroy ourselves? The way the Legion members kept betraying each other, and their "humorous" tests to see how Superboy and Supergirl handled being rejected, I wouldn't be surprised.

I don't have the SP and it's been a while since I read the Levitz piece or SUPERMAN 295, but isn't the Legion in the alternate timeline? 

In any case, the Legion are in the 30th century and the Great Disasster I assume to have happened in the early 21st century.

Most of the plenets that eventually came in contact with Earth to form the United Planets were still unknown. At least, so far as I understand the pre-Crisis continuity.

I always figured that many of the "aliens" who lived on those planets were originally Earth colonists who had come to those planets in the intervening one thousand years. Some of the powers they developed were adaptations to those new environments.

I know in post-Crisis continuity that wasn't true, but I got the feeling reading the classic Legion that the United Planets was largely the result of Earth expansion rather than aliens coming to Earth.

That would explain why Superboy never met any of the aliens in his own time period unless they traveled into the past to meet him. We see a lot of aliens in Green Lantern, but none from the Legion worlds that I can think of. By the way, where were the GL Corps in the days of the Legion? Had they been disbanded by then?

The secret of the GL Corps and the Legion is a bit of a spoiler. Just know that the Green Lanterns were banned from Earth in the 30th century for some hanky-panky. Although, I think this was explored in more depth after COIE.

The Superman uniform would have been in great shape if it was the real thing, because it's as invulnerable as Superman is. Was it ever shown to be impervious in the Kamandi story? I've forgotten.

Just how invulnerable was Earth-1 Superman to time? Earth-2 Superman seemed to age at about the same rate as the JSA, since he was starting to go grey like Jay Garrick was, but then, despite one story where they merged to double their abilities, Earth-2 Superman wasn't as powerful as his Earth-1 version. I know there were a lot of Imaginary Stories like the one where Superman was a million years old and about to disintegrate (at least that's what it said on the cover) but were any official stories ever made saying how long a Kryptonian might live prior to Crisis making it all moot?

The "Mighty One" story came out in May of 1975, and at that time Superman was as powerful as he'd ever been. They had the "Sand Superman" and "The Boy Who Stole Superman's Powers" in the early '70s -- two efforts to de-power Superman -- but they were both over by '75. The Man of Tomorrow was back to juggling-planets strength.

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