Sunday, May 06, 2007

Second 'verse, same as the first

Betcha can't create just one!I hated the DC Multiverse. Granted, I came into comics mostly after it was dead and gone. Even the issues that introduced me to comics, the random Adventures and World's Finests that survived my mom's childhood, never actually dealt with alternate Earths. "Imaginary Stories," sure, but they were never Earth-4 or Earth-19 or anything.

When Hypertime appeared, I really hated that, too. It was years before I could accept it, and that still took a damn good story from Superboy and a decent story from the Flash to justify its existence. It helped that Hypertime was intrinsically dangerous and was very hard to use. It helped that Hypertime was mostly a way to explain where Elseworlds stories were in the grand scheme of things, and thus had little bearing on the regular universe.

But I'll admit, much to my chagrin, that I'm psyched about the new Multiverse. I was angry when Infinite Crisis suggested it (and relieved when we came out of it with one single Earth). I was groaning and griping and grousing when the 52 "secret message" came out. But after 52 #52, which was pretty darn good (could have used more closure and more clarity), I'm actually looking forward to this Multiverse.

There are a number of reasons for this. First, it's not well-known; so far only Booster, Supernova, and Rip Hunter know all about it, and I like all those characters. I'm sure the big reveal in the next few JLofA issues is going to be that Starman and the Legion are actually from Earth-1, and so the knowledge of these alternate universes is going to expand rather quickly, but for now it's a need-to-know thing, and that's nice. I guess Captain Atom and Ion know bits about it, but it doesn't seem like they have the whole picture. It's nice to see that Rip Hunter and Booster Gold are going to get some time in the spotlight.
Second, it seems like it's harder to get between universes now. So far, the only ways we know are the Bleed and Rip Hunter's Time Sphere. The former seems to have some rules (the one-for-one trade that we saw in Ion--I wonder if the Breach's death is why Captain Atom can traverse it freely) which is one of the things I liked about Hypertime; and I doubt Rip will be lending out his time bubble anytime soon.
Third, there's a limited number of worlds, which means writers are going to have to use them sparingly. There won't be any of the "o-ho! But you thought this was Earth-1, when in fact it was Earth-124, where Red Kryptonite, not Green Kryptonite, is fatal to Kryptonians!" twists that I understand were not uncommon in the pre-Crisis era. It also means that they're defining specific worlds for a reason, and hopefully that reason is "more stories."

So, now that I'm all pro-Multiverse, here's some stories I want to see, and some questions I want answered:
  • What about the antimatter universe and its Anti-Earth, with the Crime Syndicate from "Earth 2"? We saw an Earth-3 in 52, with its own version of the CSA, but they weren't quite the same as the ones we've seen previously. For instance, J'onn's counterpart on Anti-Earth was a White Martian who Ultraman claimed to have killed, not a savage green Martian like the one seen here.
  • How many Oas and Qwards are there? How many New Geneses and Apokolipses?
  • I want to see a story where the JSA and Infinity Inc of Earth-2 invade New Earth to retrieve Kara and punish Superman-2's killer.
  • I want to see Renee meet Earth-4's Vic Sage and challenge his Objectivist A=A notions.
  • I want to see the LSH of Earth-2, Earth-3, Earth-10, Earth-22, etc.
  • I want to see more of Earth-10 in general. Nazi Superman? How can I refuse?
  • I want to see Booster Gold's quixotic quest to turn Earth-4's Ted Kord into his lost friend.
  • I want to see the term "Megaverse" never, ever used again.
  • I want to see Captain Marvel of Earth-5 smacking some sense into New Earth's Freddy Freeman. In fact, I want to see an all-out Marvel war. A Civil War, if you will, in the Mighty Marvel Manner.

    ...on second thought, scratch that last one.

But all the rest would be great. And I really want to see the new Earth-1. I suspect it's going to be like pre-Crisis Earth-1, but I might be wrong about that. In any case, I'm psyched for the future of DC. So, hey, I guess 52 worked.


zc said...

On Oa/Qward/Antimatter Universe:

I dunno what the deal is. Judging from the whole Sinestro Corps story that's going on, it would seem that the Antimatter Universe still exists, though I imagine they will redefine it as less a universe and more a mirror dimension, or something. Honestly, the Antimatter Universe hasn't seen good days since Kurt Busiek fucked with it in his JLA run.

On New Gods:

My understanding is that the whole "Fourth World"/New Gods/New Genesis/Apokolips dimension/whatever is above the "multiverse"... I think. Honestly I'm just outright postulating here. Hopefully Countdown (which is supposedly gonna deal a lot with the alternate earths and the New Gods) will explain some of this.

Anonymous said...

Good post. Although you make awesome points, the only reason I personally don't hate the multiverse is because, as you mention, the limitation that there are only 52 Earths, so the authors should, in theory, use them sparingly.

One must wonder if the Earths we glimpsed in 52 #52 were chosen for a certain reason... in fact, I doubt it could be otherwise. So it'll be fun to see why these Earths were selected.

Tom Foss said...

zc: That's about my thoughts on the subject. I imagine we'll find out that of all the 52 universes, "Darkseid is," and there's only one. I'm curious about Oa, though. Pre-Crisis, there was Oa and Qward, opposite each other in the matter and anti-matter universes, and they were the only ones of those particular planets in existence, even after the multiverse was created. Since the Guardians apparently know about the 52, it suggests to me that this might still be the case.

Incidentally, I like that "New Earth," since there are Earths 1 through 51, is essentially Earth-52. No more of that self-centered "Earth-1" business for the normal universe.

Eric: "One must wonder if the Earths we glimpsed in 52 #52 were chosen for a certain reason... in fact, I doubt it could be otherwise. So it'll be fun to see why these Earths were selected."

Well, here's my take:
Earth-2: homeworld of Power Girl and Superman-2, hence why Huntress was holding up the "Kryptonians are Missing" newspaper.
Earth-3: Crime Syndicate Earth, one of the first to die in the original Crisis, one of the best-remembered, homeworld of Alex Luthor.
Earth-4: Charlton heroes, looks a lot like pre-Crisis Earth-4.
Earth-5: Marvel family, looks a lot like pre-Crisis Earth-S.
Earth-10: Uncle Sam and the Freedom fighters fighting Nazis, looks a lot like pre-Crisis Earth-X.
Earth-17: looks like pre-Crisis Atomic Knights, which suggests to me that this might be the world of the Kirby future: OMAC, a nuclear war, the Great Disaster, and Kamandi the last boy on Earth.
Earth-22: Kingdom Come Earth, the one that Starman visited on his way to New Earth and joining the Justice Society.
Earth-50: Wildstorm Earth, established in Captain Atom: Armageddon.
Earth-Unknown: Tangent Earth, from which the Tangent Green Lantern, who showed up in Ion, came.

So, the Earths that have been defined basically break down like this:
2, 4, 5, 10: analogues to 2, 4, S, and X from pre-Crisis, the worlds that were folded up into the post-Crisis Earth (along with Earth-1).
3, 22, 50: Earths that are vital to recent stories. From 3, we got one of the main villains of Infinite Crisis, from 22 we get Geoff Johns's fanboy lust, and from 50 we get the other imprint.
17: Hell if I know, but I'd be willing to bet it has something to do with Uncle Sam & The Freedom Fighters (which featured the Atomic Knights, or at least "Battle For Bludhaven" did) or with Countdown (the Great Disaster, and whatnot).

Diamondrock said...

Bless you, Tom. Bless you. I thought I was the only person who hated the old multiverse (especially in today's climate). I'm glad to see that I'm not alone.

As for the new multiverse, I remain "cautiously optimistic" mostly for the reasons you mention. As long as it remains a carefully guarded secret and trans-dimensional travel occurs sparingly (unlike all the pre-Crisis "interdimensional dinner parties"). I'll stay that way.

But my optmism has its limits...

Anonymous said...

Earth-4 has Dan Garett, not Ted Kord.

Tom Foss said...

Earth-4 has Dan Garett, not Ted Kord.

I realize that the Blue Beetle of Earth-4 is Dan Garrett, but that doesn't mean that Ted Kord doesn't exist on that world (as he did on pre-Crisis Earth-4). My idea would have Booster finding the young, non-superheroic Ted Kord of Earth-4 and trying to mold him into a hero, rather than leaving it to chance.

Scott said...

1) The antimatter universe of Qward still exists, and does not *appear* to be one of Rip Hunter's 52 Earths. Whether the A-M universe still contains an alternate Earth with a Crime Syndicate, separate from the new Earth-3, or whether everything's been retconned so that Earth-3 has been encountered before and erroneously thought by the Guardians and the JLA to be an antimatter realm due to the moral compass reversal, remains to be seen. Either way could be neat. I'll also note that given the moral compass reversal, also known as the goatee factor, it makes more sense for Martian Manhunter equivalent to be a nasty green Martian, with any white Martians in that world being hopelessly outmatched sorta good guys.

2) I'm tending to think one of each, since you don't want Guardians, GLs, or Darkseid, at least more than homages, on many of the other Earths such as 50.

3) Sounds fun. Question is, will Kara want to return?

4) Sounds even more fun. What are the chances of him listening, though?

5) Yes, yes, yes.

6) Yeah, Nazi JLAers. Would this be more in the past, timeline-wise?

7) Okay.

8) Of course, without Megaverse, how do they ever fit in Planetary and the 196,833 dimensional Snowflake?

9) How about just removing the Marvel Family entirely to their own world, and letting Jeff Smith continue with stories there.

Will Staples said...

I think what really sets the New Multiverse apart from the old one is that the original was basically just a "patch" for continuity that sort of snowballed out of control over 30 years, whereas the new is being deliberately planned from the beginning. That's why I think the 52 will outlast their predecessors.

That said, don't be surprised if there's another continuity-crunching Crisis 40 years down the line when DC's editors get sick of having to write little caption boxes every issue to explain how Son of Vulcan and Caitlin Fairchild are hanging out with the Justice Organization of Canada on Earth-33...

Anonymous said...

I thought the Wildstorm universe was a multiverse too?

Tom Foss said...

I've heard that. My guess is that between 52 and Captain Atom: Armageddon, it's been unified into a single universe.

Tom Foss said...

Although that's just the Wildstorm Proper universe; I understand that books like Ex Machina, which are Wildstorm Select (or something similar) are non-Wildstorm-canon.

Anonymous said...

Well, the power that be at DC/WS will have some explaining/storytelling to do (not necessarily a bad thing). The Authority is usually sliding from one universe to the next, Captain Atom learnt about the Bleed and the WS multiverse in the Armageddon mini-series.

The rules could have changed since the reboot but the Authority is currently stuck on a different Earth with "no superhumans except in stories," a bit like DC's Earth-Prime from the 70s.