Best and Worst Dark Age Shakeup?

By “Dark Age shakeup,” I mean things like what you see in the following roughly chronological, non-comprehensive list:

-Barry Allen’s death and Wally West’s becoming the Flash
-The Death and Return of Superman
-The Knightfall Saga
-Emerald Twilight
-Artemis’ Wonder Woman tenure
-Superman Blue
-The “Dark Flash” Wallace West storyline

Basically, stuff from the late '80s and '90s that at least temporarily overhauled a major hero’s status quo.

Personally, my favorite is either Death and Return or Knightfall. Death and Return was a smoother reading experience from issue to issue, while Knightfall is more interesting taken as a whole. They both have a ton of padding, though Death and Return frontloads it while Knightfall dumps it all in the middle. I like Wally West and I love COIE, but I actually don’t really enjoy his series pre-Waid. I’m up to the point where he moves to Keystone and it is improving, but that’s taken too long for me to count it as a single plot development.

I haven’t actually read all of these, but the worst that I have read is Emerald Twilight. It’s just mean-spirited, disrespectful, and generally destructive. And I mean, I do have to give it some credit. There’s some genuine pathos in the tragedy of the situation and it does work well as an origin for Kyle Rayner, who I like, but watching a classic hero go nuts and butcher his entire supporting cast is just the worst possible way to make that transition.


For impact alone, I’ll have to say Wally becoming Flash is the best. That stuck for well over twenty years and led to some of the best Flash stories. As for the worst… with DC, I’ll have to go with Emerald Twighlight. But with any company… I mean, between Onslaught and the Clone Saga, Marvel had some real stinkers.

1 Like

Was thinking DC, but you raise a very compelling point.

From an overall standpoint, the Death and Rebirth of Superman brought a lot of notice to sequential storytelling across the planet-- not only are super-hero stories more sophisticated than people thought-- they always kind of were-- and the presentation was maybe finally catching up to the ideas.

Knightfall is the second biggest stunt in comics history, and unlike the Maximum Clonage and Civil War-- it worked, both commercially and artistically.

But the advent of Wally-Flash and Kyle-Lantern showed a very clear delineation in comics buying-- people didn’t collect The Flash and Green Lantern-- they READ them. Maybe not the biggest sellers in history, but always solid, always steady-- and READ before being bagged.

1 Like

The Knightfall Saga! I think it still holds up as a great story. Sure, it was kind of a stunt, but it was executed really well.

The death of Barry Allen and Wally West replacing him as the Flash was also good. I like Barry more, but it should never have been undone.

I’ll never understand the love The Death and Return of Superman gets. It was just a publicity stunt where an unexplained big alien falls from the sky and punches Superman to death leading to a bunch of lame “Supermen” taking over until Superman Returns with a mullet. At least it created Steel. He was lame in the story but I like his appearances in stories since.

1 Like