I was recently browsing the amazing Mikel Midnight's Cosmology Compendium, which from the looks of it hasn't been updated in nearly a decade. Despite the cobwebs growing on the site, Midnight offers a still-relevant list of links to various comic book timeline projects (for the most part). However, I was struck by the number of dead links, not so much by how many there were, but by the idea that there was apparently a flourishing geekdom revolving around the desire to chronologically document the multiverse around the late 90s and early 2000s. The links that actually still connect to a destination on the Internet are mostly no-frills Geocities and Yahoo sites, evidence of the time period in which they were spawned.
But whatever happened to these internauts obsessed with Yahoo message boards, Fanzing, and "Comments on a Finite Number of Earths" by Lou
Mougin and Mark Waid? I have a theory that even the most dedicated chronology nerds were frustrated with the Modern Age as it progressed through the 2000s with soft reboots that didn't stick (Zero Hour), multiple Crises, and Elseworlds tales galore no longer linked to specific numbered or lettered Earths. Likewise, the fun labyrinthine nature of the multiverse, both pre-original Crisis and immediately afterward, must have been an exciting moment for anyone documenting its history and changes. But as that faded into the past and the Modern Age really began to take a hold as the one solid New Earth, I can imagine people getting bummed that all of their hard work and cataloguing was becoming obsolete, in a sense, becoming tomes of unpublished information shelved forever only to collect dust until the host sites faded, the renewals lapsed, or the mirrors cracked. I mean, just look at some of these sites that no longer exist, the names themselves are great: "DC Timeline Constructors," "Else-Aquaman," "Elseworlds.net," Les Elseworlds du Batman," "Alternate Robins," "Superman's Imaginary Costumes," "Temporal Paradoxes in Science Fiction," "The Wonder Woman Pages," "The Quarter Bin: Superheroes in the Age of Agnew," and many more. Of course there are a bunch of links that do still work, but most of these sites haven't been touched in ages. Why is it that the seemingly most-dedicated would-be scholars of the field all gave up over a decade ago, never to return? Don't get me wrong, if you look at my links page I've included dozens of current up-to-date and ongoing websites that deal with comic book history and historiography. But are older comic book-heads really so jaded about the current product that they don't have an interest in the New 52? Or how AvX affects the greater 616? Hehe, maybe I can understand why, now that I think about it. Anyway, this is just an observation, not a call to arms or a state of the industry address. It's also possible that this steam-of-consciousness post isn't even really saying much (and that's fine too)! What do y'all think?