So three years after Crisis, if Crisis ended in March of 1986, we'd be looking at April 1989. Of the series that started just after Crisis, Booster Gold, Blue Beetle and Hex are already gone, while Captain Atom, Wally West as the Flash, Young All-Stars, Wonder Woman and Secret Origins still survive. Of the series that kept going after Crisis, some are also gone: Green Lantern Corps, Hawkman, Outsiders, Teen Titans Spotlight, Warlord, Vigilante, and Justice League of America among them. So right away, a huge difference from today's massive number of new books and cancellations. Of 52 original New52 titles, only 21 remain, with many more series cancelled in the intervening years. One wonders if they'll do something special when they cancel their 52nd title (which should be soon, we're at 47 now).
25 years ago, the strategy was obviously different. DC didn't spam the shelves with books and insist on 52 monthlies plus sundries, no matter what, ditching what didn't work and throwing a different strand of spaghetti against the wall to see if it stuck instead. Marvel was more or less about to do something similar - we called that "the 90s" - but let's not get off-track here. No, back in the day, books would be born or die, often as a result of some big crossover event. I suppose that still happens today, with books like Talon coming out of events like Night of the Owls, or Justice League United out of Forever Evil. In the late 80s and early 90s, the formula was much more obvious, with unrelated books also coming out in the same "wave". For example, Legends gave us Justice League (AKA JLI) and Suicide Squad, while Millennium gave us New Guardians and Manhunter, but DC also threw in Power of the Atom and Starman (Will Payton). In 1989, Invasion just happened, so we get books like L.E.G.I.O.N., Justice League Europe, Huntress, Mister Miracle and New Gods, not all of them related to the event. Hawkworld and Hawk & Dove would soon premiere.
In April of 1989, Superman had three books. Meanwhile, Batman had only two books, though Legends of the Dark Knight would soon premiere, and was working alone after Jason Todd's death. Firestorm was a fire elemental. The Titans were wondering Who Is Wonder Girl (the fallout from which would haunt the DCU through the next two decades). The Legion of Super-Heroes was very close to making the leap to Five Years Later. The Justice League had two books and worked as a comedy.
In September of 2014, Superman has two books of his own and shares two others (a third has just been cancelled), which is sort of the same. Meanwhile, Batman has... I don't even want to count the number of books in the Batman Family, I find it kind of depressing. Jason Todd is alive and well and has a book of his own in the line, but there is a dead Robin haunting Batman. Firestorm is a member of the Justice League, but has lost his series. The Teen Titans have returned to a new #1 quite recently, with little rejigging of the concept as far as I can see. The Legion is tapped for a return in the pages of other titles, but has been on its longest hiatus ever, with both its New52 series cancelled. The Justice League is still popular, though I can't stand the book myself. It is the only book from the original New52 line-up to see its numbering drag behind the others despite DC's never-late pledge.
Oh sorry, did I go all negative? Didn't really mean to. Perhaps it's the books taken as examples. The current Aquaman book is quite fun and the New52 run has put the King of Seven Seas on the map again (he even has a second book for the first time in history). In '89, he was getting a lackluster mini-series drawn by Curt Swan that didn't do much to modernize him (especially after the slick art of P. Craig Hamilton's previous effort). Green Arrow, then as now, was/is in a period of critical acclaim. Green Lantern didn't have a book in April '89, but there are five Lantern books currently published (not long to wait in '89 for a similar spike in Lantern popularity though). And it should be said that while 1989 DC had more diverse titles in terms of tone and genre (comedy, supernatural horror, straight superheroes, spy thrillers, quirky surrealism, etc.) 2014 wins out when it comes to giving minorities their own books. Many of those books fail, mind you, but today's crop of books features 10 female-led books (one of them gay, two of them cancelled after this month), to 1989's three female-led books (and I'm having to count Hawk & Dove here). For non-white characters, things look a little dim either way. 1989 is all white (or alien), so the New52 gets a slim win with its one black star, Batwing, whose book just got cancelled. With that, the DCU is once again white-washed. Teams fare better, but then, 1989's did too.
Keep in mind, DC was only publishing about 38 monthly in-universe books at the time - that month showing 55 books overall (the others being minis, Annuals, collections, or books outside DC continuity like Doc Savage and COPS). I haven't calculated any proportions.
So what have we learned? Anything?