When I was a kid in the 1960's most of my allowance went to comic books. I was mostly a DC Comics fan. Superman, Batman, The Flash, Green Lantern, those guys. I can't say for sure when I stopped reading comic books, probably in high school, so around 1965. Over the years I'd look at an issue or two in a store, but, the stories kept getting more complicated and I couldn't figure out what was going on any more.
I learned just how complicated things had gotten in the DC world when I read the compilation of Crisis on Infinite Earths, which came out in 1985. I'm not sure when I read this but it was some time after it was issued, probably in the past 5 years or so. I just finished the follow-up series called Final Crisis.Crisis on Infinite Earths was pretty hard to follow, especially since I'd been out of touch with the DC Universe for so long. Apparently DC felt this series was necessary because so many of the characters had such confused and complicated back stories. A lot of this confusion was apparently explained by the multiverse. There were multiple Earths in multiple universes. Each had it's own collection of superheros, some of which had similarities to others in other universes. For example, there was Superman, there was a Superman in another universe who had white hair on his temples, there was Ultraman, who came from some goofy universe where everything was the reverse of our universe (so he was an evil Superman). It was enough to set your head spinning. The purpose of Crisis on Infinite Earths was to collapse all these universes into one and then simplify everything.
Well, apparently, this simplification wasn't very successful, so now you have 2008's Final Crisis. The multiverse is back along with multiple incarnations of superheros. There are 3 guys called the Flash for example. There is no sense in my trying to explain this as I don't really understand it my self. Final Crisis is even harder to follow than Crisis on Infinite Earths. After I finished it, I read the Wikipedia article on it. Well, I guess I had some idea of the story but there were apparently things going on that I missed entirely.
As a visual spectacle, Final Crisis is fabulous. The artwork fairly jumps off the page, even as it fails to tell the story in any sort of a satisfactory manner. And the end? Superman builds a Miracle Machine and wishes for a happy ending.