In the world of American Flagg, 1996 is known as the year of the domino. The key points of the year are outlined within the exposition of American Flagg #1 which serves as sort of a de facto series bible. There is a nuclear meltdown which takes out most of the east coast of the United States, followed not long after by a massive U.S. crop failure. With the United States taken off the world political stage, the U.S.S.R. collapses in an Islamic insurrection. Food riots begin to shake western Europe, while Asia is assaulted by a resurgence of Black Plague. With the world in turmoil, the international banking system collapses. Iran and Israel exchange nukes, and without the influence of either the United States or the Soviet Union, Germany reunifies and promptly nukes London. Rocked by a series of massive earthquakes, California sinks into the ocean, and the plague spreads worldwide.
Under the leadership of U.S. President Silver. the remaining heads of all the big businesses, the surviving federal government officials, and the heads of what's left of the banking industry band together and relocate to Hammarskjold Center on Mars (temporarily of course). The Soviet engineers on Gagaringrad Luna defect and under the new Mars leadership, they retool the city into a massive broadcast center. The following year, the Plex comes online with its first series of broadcasts.
The Plex started as a huge broadcast network, but quickly diversified, sponsoring major construction projects on Earth, most notably in Chicago, Dallas-Fort Worth, New Orleans, Brasilia, and London. Arcologies, a kind of combination tenement housing and shopping mall (Plexmalls), were constructed in the areas that were formerly major population centers. Much of the population was moved inside them, and the rest were left to fend for themselves. The Plex broadcasting continued as the Nexus series of channels with their Fasfax dummy corporation handling all news and documentary information. The Plex formed fire and utilities divisions, and law enforcement using their newly created Plexus Ranger corps. Banking has even been reintroduced to a limited degree, though most money transfers are accomplished digitally through the American Plexpress Card.
Though it is never explicitly stated, it is heavily implied that the Plex also runs the Jerry Rigg Custom Firearms and Love Canal Adult Center franchises which are ubiquitous in all Plexmalls.
While the populations of Mars and Luna genuinely feel that the Plex is the only way back to "normalcy" for Earth, most of the earthbound populace could care less. The Plex created a public relations campaign called the Tri-Centennial Recovery Committee which purports to "Get America Back on Track by 2076." The T.R.C. was eventually revealed by Reuben Flagg to be part of a cover-up by the Plex as they tried to sterilize the population of Illinois and Indiana, thereby emptying it out for a quick sale to 4 World Industries, the largest South American corporation.
Reuben eventually discovered that most of the people on Mars were killed off when the local government imploded in a series of military juntas. He confronted President Silver, who relinquished the presidency to him. Reuben spent a few days in charge of the Plex until his liberal leanings got the better of him and he called for a general election. The election had the distinction of having the lowest turnout of any election in history. Flagg turned the reigns of the Plex back over to President Silver after brokering a deal for the governorship of Illinois.