This timeline is for a campaign setting that I [Barry] created. Feel free to use it as the basis for your own campaigns.
1940-1950 : The Golden Age
The heroic age begins in 1938 when Billy Batson becomes Captain Marvel. He ushers in an Age of Heroes such as the world had never seen. Soon after, other heroes such as the Flash, Dr. Fate, Sandman, Hawkman, Liberty Belle and Johnny Quick arrive on the scene. The emergence of heroes culminates with the founding of the Justice Society, which is initially comprised of Captain Marvel, Dr. Fate, Hawkman, Hawkgirl, Atom, Hourman, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman I (Hippolyta), Flash and the Spectre.
As WWII continues, the All-Star Squadron is formed, encompassing all active Mystery Men and Super-Heroes. Captain Marvel and the Marvel Family are seen as the premier heroes of America, battling such foes as Dr. Sivana, the Monster Society of Evil and the Ultra-Humanite.
After the war ends, the popularity of heroes is at an all-time high. However, the House Un-American Activities Comittee manages to smear the reputations of the Justice Society, and, rather than unmask to the Committee, the Justice Society quietly retires.
1950-1960 : The Quiet Age
Heroic activity goes underground, as the anti-Communist hysteria reaches a fever-pitch. Even after the McCarthyism era ends, heroes are still reticent about exposure. Some members of the JSA (such as Captain Marvel, the Flash and Green Lantern) operate in secret, handling crises as they occur. Metahuman activity seems to decline, though radioactive menaces become more common. The major heroes of this era tend to be normal men and woman such as the Challengers of the Unknown, Task Force X/the Suicide Squad, the Sea Devils, Rip Hunter, and Cave Carson.
William Batson leaves behind WHIZ radio to assume the editor position of the Daily Star, guiding it through its transition into the Daily Planet.
1960-1970 : The Silver Age
The Silver Age of heroism is sparked by the emergence of Captain Comet and the Martian Manhunter. These two heroes symbolized the era — one of looking towards the stars for mankind’s destiny. The heroes and villains of this era tend to be flashier and more powerful than their Golden Age predecessors.
The sons and daughters of the Justice Society band together as the Super Squad in 1963, battling evil in all its forms. The group is moderately successful but becomes increasingly involved with social reform as the decade wears on. By the end of the decade, the group has been arrested numerous times for anti-war demonstrations. They finally break up as the era comes to a close. The main roster consists of : Silver Scarab (son of Hawkman and Hawkgirl), Fury (daughter of the golden age heroine of the same name), Jade (daughter of Green Lantern), Obsidian (son of Green Lantern), Jesse Quick (daughter of Johnny Quick) and Atom-Smasher (godson of the Atom).
The JSA reforms periodically throughout the decade, but are increasingly seen as part of the establishment. The group teams up with the Super Squad for several adventures. Other groups of the era : the Doom Patrol, the Secret Society of Super-Heroes (Martian Manhunter, Captain Comet, Black Orchid and the Creeper).
Green Lantern Abin Sur makes frequent appearances on Earth.
Captain Marvel, Jr. drops out of the public eye after going mad. William Batson provides the best medical care that can be given.
After a battle with Dr. Sivana, Batson forgets his magic word and his true identity.
1970-1980 : The Nuclear Age
The 1970s see a plethora of new heroes, while many of the older ones begin to decline. Captain Atom’s appearance in 1970 kicks off the decade, as astronaut Nathaniel Adam is transformed into one of the world’s most powerful metahumans. Ted Kord adopts the name Blue Beetle and carries on where the original Blue Beetle (Dan Garret, a silver age hero) left off.
In 1972, the Sentinels of Justice band together — Captain Atom, Blue Beetle, Nightshade, Peacemaker, Judomaster and Thunderbolt. Together, they combat threats large and small throughout the decade. Their emergence as true media celebrities sparks a change in how heroes are perceived. Now spokesmen for various causes and pitchmen for advertising products, the Sentinels are scorned by many of the older heroes.
A young teen with superpowers bursts upon the scene in the latter part of the decade. Superboy, as he’s dubbed by the media, makes his home in Smallville but occasionally travels outside Kansas to help other heroes. Other heroes who make their debut : Black Lightning, Ragman, the Dial “H” for Heroes kids and Hawkman II (the grandson of Hawkman I and the son of the Silver Scarab and Fury).
Batman debuts in late 1979, with an eight-year old boy called Robin at his side. Their appearance in Gotham City helps draw the JSA (who had long called Gotham the home of their headquarters) out of retirement briefly.
1980-1990 : The Bronze Age
The next great period of heroism began in 1980, when Superboy moved to Metropolis and became Superman. Alongside other new heroes such as Green Arrow, Batman, the Flash II (Barry Allen), Green Lantern Hal Jordan, the new Hawkman, and Wonder Woman II (Hippolyta’s daughter, Diana), Superman battles a new breed of criminal, more powerful than ever. The Man of Steel becomes the icon for the new generation of hero.
In 1981, Earth finds itself the site of a battle between alien forces. Seven heroes band together to repel the invasion, forming the mighty Justice League of America. The founding members are Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, Flash, veteran hero Martian Manhunter and a new hero known as Aquaman. The JLA becomes, arguably, the greatest superhero team of all. By the end of the decade, their ranks have swelled to almost 20 members, including Hawkman and his fiance, Hawkwoman, the Red Tornado, Firestorm, Zatanna, Elongated Man, Captain Marvel and Black Canary II.
In 1983, William Batson, now an older man, remembers his magic word and becomes Captain Marvel once more. As Marvel, he retains his youth. Captain Marvel, Jr. revives and becomes a villain. This sequence of events is paralleled in Alan Moore’s Miracleman series.
The villains, such as Darkseid, Kobra, the Joker, Lex Luthor and Brainiac become bolder and more brazen, with many of their schemes resulting in mass groupings of heroes in order to foil their plots.
In 1986, the young wards of the JLA form the Teen Titans. The initial lineup is Robin, Wonder Girl, Speedy, Aqualad and Kid Flash. The Titans weren’t the only young heroes to arrive on the scene — Batgirl, Supergirl (Superman’s cousin) and Amethyst all made their debuts.
1990-2000 : The Age of Crisis
This era was marked by tumult. In 1990, the Teen Titans (which had disbanded the year before) reformed as the New Teen Titans. With a lineup of Robin, Wonder Girl, Kid Flash, Starfire, Cyborg, Changeling and Raven, the Titans quickly proved themselves worthy heirs of the heroic legacy. The Titans fought crime until 1996, when outside pressures broke up the group.
The Justice League began the decade with strength, but quickly fell into disarray. Batman left the group to found a new team, the Outsiders. Green Arrow left and then returned. The Flash was framed for murder and was expelled. Finally, following a Martian invasion, Aquaman disbanded the League and re-formed it as a smaller group consisting of new heroes (such as Steel, Vibe, Gypsy and Vixen) and veterans (Zatanna, Elongated Man, Martian Manhunter). This League had a short existence, before once again disbanding. The League was revived months later by Maxwell Lord, who spearheaded a movement to turn the League into an international organization. With a core membership of Batman, Martian Manhunter, Dr. Fate, Blue Beetle III (Ted Kord Jr.), Booster Gold, Green Lantern Guy Gardner, Fire and Ice, this new Justice League International became the pre-eminent hero group in the world and split into two lines : Justice League America and Justice League Europe. The JLI’s roster grew over the decade, adding more and more members to combat ever-larger threats. The group was less serious than its predecessors, always mixing humor with heroics.
Green Lantern Hal Jordan abandoned his post, turning over the ring to John Stewart. Stewart would be Earth’s resident Green Lantern for only a short period, however, as he lost the position to Guy Gardner during the event known as Crisis on Infinite Earths.
The Crisis threatened the entire universe, as an anti-matter tyrant known as the Anti-Monitor tried to destroy reality. This conflict cost the lives of Dove, Aquagirl and many others — most notably the Flash (Barry Allen). In the wake of Barry Allen’s death, Kid Flash adopted the costume and name of the Flash III.
Even more horrible events were to come, however. The events known as Millenium, Invasion, Bloodlines and more twisted heroes into villains and destroyed entire cities. Captain Atom, a hero from the Silver Age, returned as the villainous Monarch. Hal Jordan, the Bronze Age Green Lantern, went mad after the destruction of Coast City and temporarily became the evil Parallax. Superman was killed by Doomsday, but Metropolis found itself ably protected by Superwoman (the former Supergirl), Superboy (a Cadmus Project clone of Superman), Steel (John Henry Irons, an inventor who had been inspired by Superman) and the Eradicator (a human man bonded with a Kryptonian artifact). Batman’s back was broken, forcing Robin to adopt the name and costume as Batman II. The death of Hippolyta forced Wonder Woman to return to Paradise Island, giving the Wonder Woman name and identity to Donna Troy, the former Wonder Girl. Green Arrow Oliver Queen died fighting terrorists.
The world seemed darker than ever. “Heroes” like Hitman, the Demon and Deathstroke seemed to have captured the world’s fancy. It seemed that heroes were becoming increasingly hard to differentiate from villains. The arrival of the Authority, composed of various former members of a U.N. sanctioned strikeforce known as Stormwatch, seemed the final nail in the coffin of the “old” heroic ages.
As the decade drew to a close, however, there were several signs that seemed hopeful. Superman returned from the dead, youthened by the Kryptonian regeneration procedure. Given a new lease on life, he married his longtime sweetheart Lois Lane and reclaimed his position as Earth’s premier hero.
Batman II found a new Robin in the form of Tim Drake, who blossomed under the tutelage of Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson. Robin II formed a new Teen Titans in 1998, bringing together several teens, including Superboy and Impulse.
Hal Jordan sacrificed his life to save the world from the Final Night, gaining himself a second chance as the new Spectre.
While the JLI protected the majority of the world, a new Justice Society came into being as 1999 drew to a close. Made up the original Teen Titans who were now adults, the roster initially consisted of Batman (Dick Grayson), Wonder Woman (Donna Troy), Green Arrow (Roy Harper), Tempest (the former Aqualad) and the Flash (Wally West). The group strove to restore the ideals of the JSA and the original JLA to a modern world. Later additions to the roster included Dr. Mid-Nite II (Pieter Cross), Mr. Terrific II and a new Hawkgirl. Golden Age greats Flash I (Jay Garrick) and Green Lantern I (Alan Scott) aided the team from time to time, kept younger than normal by the Speed Force and the Power Ring, respectively.
After a falling out with the Guardians of the Galaxy, Guy Gardner turned over his ring and adopted the yellow ring that once belonged to the evil Sinestro. A young artist named Kyle Rayner becomes the newest Green Lantern.
2000-2010 : The Modern Age
|New heroes continue to appear in great numbers, as the march of heroism continues. This is the setting for the campaign.|