Pretty, Fizzy Paradise

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Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Multiverse Musings: Incoherency Warning

I've always had mixed feelings about the multiverse concept. To be honest, I've always found the Silver Age crossover stories to be just a little silly. Fun, don't get me wrong, but when it comes down to it, I much prefer having the JSA and JLA on the same Earth.

I like the sense of legacy and direct inspiration available that way. Also, I like having a world where Jay Garrick can raise Barry Allen's grandson, where Hal Jordan's successor can date Alan Scott's daughter. I like the thought of the JSA as the forerunners with the JLA as the heavy hitters. It makes for an interesting balance and a sense of lineage that works much better for me than Barry Allen getting his code name from a comic book. (Wouldn't Clark or Bruce or Diana have noticed that the other comic book characters/their E-2 counterparts, had the same secret identity names?!)

That and I'd really rather not see the Earth-2 characters shunted aside, because that would get real annoying. I'd much rather see them interact, at least, sporadically, with their Earth-1/New Earth Counterparts...without the need for dimensional travel being referenced.

I'm particularly glad that at least right now, no one but Power Girl seems to remember the split Earths. This is just a personal thing, but I never liked the thought of Superman and Batman in the JSA. I think they tend to overshadow the other characters. Besides. They WEREN'T in the original JSA anyway. Hmph. I also like Hippolyta a lot, and think she's much more in spirit with the original Diana. I like that Hippolyta is remembered as Hippolyta, and that the heroism of the JSA isn't pinned on a man in blue and red tights.

But that doesn't mean I'm against the thought of a multiverse in general. Because a multiverse could be FUN. I LOVE Elseworlds. And I've always liked the "for want of a nail" sorts of scenarios. What if a character turned right instead of left?

I think they should be used sporadically though. While it's lots of fun to shove a character into a different dimension, where everything is familiar, yet different, too often loses the impact.

But it can be lots of fun! (Hal Jordan falling into a world where Parallax never struck and Kyle Rayner is eevil! I'd read that!)

Also it allows for the opportunity of some Nocturne-esque fucked up offspring possibilities to break people's brains with. (Nocturne= AU kid of Kurt Wagner and Wanda Maximoff). There's some hilarious and/or terrifying potential there. Like...what if Guy Gardner and Amanda Waller ever had a kid?

...hmm, maybe it'd be better if we just stuck to a universe for now, after all...

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  • At October 10, 2006 12:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I'm particularly glad that at least right now, no one but Power Girl seems to remember the split Earths.

    Donna Troy, too, although she appears to have spent the last three months as Giganta's necklace, so she's not actively "remembering" much.

  • At October 10, 2006 12:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Great post, Kalinara.....even though I've got pretty much the exact opposite take on the situation.

    In fact, the multiple earths concept is what first really snapped me out my initial "Marvel Only" fixation as a kid. I remember coming across a treasury-sized reprint of some JLA stories with a great shot of the JLA on the cover. However, on the back cover was a group shot of the JSA, with the various counterparts occupying the places of their Earth-1 counterparts on the front cover (eg: Jay Garrick where Barry Allen was, etc). Ever since that moment, I've been fascinated by the dichotomy between the Earth-1 and Earth-2 heroes.

    I loved the fact that the Earth-2 heroes were literally comic book heroes on Earth-1...which made a young fan like me imagine that the Earth-1 heroes theoretically could exist somewhere in the multiverse (a theory which I completely bought into at the time). Even better, these characters could occasionally interact with each other...the rarity and relative difficulty of the meetings making them all the more special.

    I don't know...maybe it's just something you had to experience first hand to really appreciate. I realize that people who've only ever known the "single Earth" model of the DCU would naturally not want a return to the multiple earths set-up, but for those of us who grew up with it, it was alot of fun, and I really miss aspects of it.

    I thought we'd be getting some aspect of the multiple earths concept back following Infinite Crisis, since they sure seemed to be hinting it was going that way....not to mention the "Earth-2" tease in Meltzer's Justice League #0....but alas, DC doesn't seem too motivated to do much with it, so it's probably just going to go back to the good ol' status quo (I hope I'm wrong).

    So, yeah....I've grown used to the single-earth paradigm, but I'd be lying if I said I didn't miss the more expansive possibilities of the multiple earths concept.

  • At October 10, 2006 1:05 PM, Blogger Zaratustra said…

    DC really should have a title like Exiles. Superman/Batman was going that way nicely, but now poof.

  • At October 10, 2006 1:25 PM, Blogger SallyP said…

    Eeeevil Kyle? Guy and Amanda Waller? Kalinara what on earth are you smoking...and can I get some?

  • At October 10, 2006 1:47 PM, Blogger kalinara said…

    anon: True. Not sure that's the same Donna though.

    Mark: I've just got this big thing for generations and interactions (I much prefer the characters able to interact on the same earth without going..."Okay, so why are E-1 Batman, E-1 Superman, Ralph Dibny, Hal Jordan, Jay Garrick and Wes Dodds chasing Sandy right now?!")

    You're probably right in having to be there. I think it's a nifty idea for it's time, but much prefer the current model in practice. :-)

    I do think it'd be pretty cool to have other multiverse elements though. :-) Parallel universes are fun.

    zaratustra: I'd like that, but with characters other than Bruce or Clark. They do everything anyway.

    Now what might be fun is a new batch of dimension hopping characters, Linda Danvers's daughter and/or Power Girl's kid. That would interest me more.

    sallyp: Maybe. :-) I might not want to share.

    Imagine how singularly frightening a child of Amanda and Guy would have to be. It could rule the world! Through Sheer Terror!

  • At October 10, 2006 2:09 PM, Blogger Marionette said…

    How about the world where Alex De Witt is Green Lantern and Kyle ended up in the refrigerator?

  • At October 10, 2006 2:30 PM, Blogger SallyP said…

    Marionette, only if you have Guy and Amanda's love child running around.

  • At October 10, 2006 3:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I liked the original Multiple Earths setup, but I gotta agree that having the legacies on a single Earth is helpful. Leaving the Marvel Family on their own Earth, on the other hand, would have served them a lot better, in my opinion, and I'd still like to have Earth-Prime back.

    Also, there's one other reason to have them: because alternate universe stories are a mainstay of science fiction nowadays, and the writers will want to do them wether they officially exist or not. I remember, in the new JLA that popped up about a year after the original Crisis, they had a set of alternate-universe characters show up within the first ten issues. It's just too big a pool of ideas to exclude.

  • At October 10, 2006 4:10 PM, Blogger Marc Burkhardt said…

    Hey, watch that "worked in its time" stuff. I feel old enough already! :)

    The whole multiverse issue - and you were very coherent by the way -comes down to whether a reader was introduced to DC before or after Crisis On Infinite Earths.

    The multi-generational DC does have its merits, but as an old fart I always felt the Earth-2 concept served the Big 3 better than the present set-up.

    For one thing, Earth-1 Superman lost his special - and I feel - important role as the world's first superhero.

    After the Crisis, he was just another in a long tradition and - as set up in Man of Steel - wasn't even necessarily the most powerful or principled guy to come down the pike. (You could make a case for Alan Scott being the true inspiration of the post-Crisis DC universe...)

    Also, on Earth 2 characters like Power Girl, Dick Grayson and Huntress could truly emerge as the inheritors of the Super and Bat legacies instead of permanently remaining in limbo or worse.

    (i.e. Earth-1 Supergirl and Nightwing)

    Although DC never really played this up as it should, the Infinitors should have been major players on Earth-2 because they were truly the next generation of heroes after the JSA - not Clark, Bruce, Diana etc.

    For some less campy examples of Earth-2 stories, I'd point you the JSA adventures of the late 70s that were published in All-Star and Adventure comics.

    It's getting reprinted and its great stuff!

    Thanks for the thought-provoking post!!!

  • At October 10, 2006 5:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Actually, Superman and Batman WERE in the original JSA. They appeared twice during the Golden Age run of All-Star Comics (one such adventure was referenced in the first 10-issue story of Infinity, Inc.), and were part of the origin story in DC Special #29.

    I thought their presence was a key piece of the success of the 1970s All-Star Comics revival (now being reprinted in TPB!).

    I deeply miss Earth-2. I got over it, but I trace the downfall of the DC universe to the merging of the two worlds in the Crisis.

    Am I a big JSA geek? Well... maybe. :-)

  • At October 10, 2006 6:20 PM, Blogger notintheface said…

    Fortress Keeper's icon gives me a great idea for an Elseworlds/alternate Earth: What if the inhabitants of this Earth looked and acted like the Bizarros of the DCU, but when this world's "bizarro-ish" Luthor tried to create a duplicate of this Earth's "bizarro-ish" Superman, the duplicate created looked and acted like "our" Superman: the duplicator ray created HUMANS instead of Bizarros (or Kryptonians instead of Bizarros in Superman's case). What if this Superman duplicate decided to use the ray to clone this world's (bizarro-ish) Lois the same way, and created a human Lois?

  • At October 10, 2006 6:21 PM, Blogger notintheface said…

    Yes, I watched Twilight Zone's "Eye of the Beholder" too many times.

  • At October 10, 2006 7:28 PM, Blogger Ragnell said…

    Mari -- Benn done, "Circle of Fire"

    I'd liked her better than Jade, was disappointed they didn't take the idea and actually bring her into the series. Her and Kyle dating with that in both of their histories would be too interesting.

  • At October 10, 2006 9:04 PM, Blogger Chris Sims said…

    The downfall of the DCU?

  • At October 11, 2006 1:54 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Note I was introduced post-Crisis and still love the multiverse.

    Also, one other benefit of a multiverse is that the other universes can be good places to put a new-readers series. I have a friend who got into Marvel through the Ulitmate Universe and now reads Exiles and Spider-Girl as well.

  • At October 11, 2006 3:35 AM, Blogger Flidget Jerome said…

    No Nocturnes! No Nocturnes!! Nooooo!!!

    (Seriously, this is confusing enough over in Marvel. The last thing DC needs is for Helena Wayne to pop-up again.)

    I like your idea, though, of bringing back the multiverse without bringing back Earth 2. All the fun of alternate worlds and all of the legacy, brilliant!

    Fortress Keeper - now that Power Girl's past is cannon again isn't Superman (the original one, at least) officially back to being the first? Not the same guy as the current Supes, true, but the current one wasn't really ever actually the first to begin with.

  • At October 11, 2006 10:21 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    One of the problems with getting rid of Earth-2 is the increasingly lame excuses (magic voodoo, regneration potions, etc.) needed to explain why the original JSAers are still running around.

    Alan Scott has a magic ring, so I guess I could buy that an 80+ year old guy is punching people out, but Ted Grant?

    If Scott was 30 when he found the ring (not a bad assumption- he was a practicing engineer) in 1941, that would make him born in 1911. He's NINETY FIVE. How many times can we regenerate this guy? Jay Garrick was a college student when he became the Flash in 1940. Say he was 19 or 20. He's now 86.

    At some point the JSA is going to have to be decoupled from World War II or straight-up made immortal. But not if they lived on Earth-2, where they could have aged and died normally (with their heroic legacies passed on), or, even better, make it so it's 2006 on Earth-1, and 1966 on Earth-2. The years don't have to sync up.

    You can tell a lot of great stories this way while respecting the characters, respecting the readers, and playing with MULTIPLE heroic legacies (Who's the Wally West/Flash inheritor of Earth-2?)

  • At October 11, 2006 10:36 AM, Blogger kalinara said…

    (responding backwards, go me!)

    Tenzil: Actually, there really isn't an issue there.

    The WWII connection is vital. But the characters connected to it aging isn't an issue anymore.

    In the current JSA, there are only five men with connection to the War. One is the Starheart. One is a boxer with nine-lives. One is a Flash (with a weird physiology anyway), and one is a sand monster.

    The rest are all inherited legacies. So there really is no requirement or issue there now. Simply put, the surviving JSA old guard is essentially immortal. :-)

    flidget: It'd make the fanboys happy. :-P

    ununnilium: True. Though I think those might be better if they're not quite as common as Marvel. :-) A little goes a long way.

    chris: :-)

    ragnell: Would have been...angsty. :-) Wonder if all her boyfriends subsequently die.

    notinthe: Hee. TZ rots your brain!

    micheal: I think we'll have to disagree here. I like the multiverse concept enough, but I think the legacies are vital.

    :-) Also, 21 years is a long time for a downfall really. I hope mine is so languid. ;-)

    keeper: Sorry. I can see why the Superman thing is important. I've oddly though always thought him more important this way though. Not the first, but undeniably the greatest/most inspiring in spite of that.

    And in the Golden Age comic, they actually did give Superman some of his oomph back. The reason the very first hero, the Crimson Avenger, became one was because of a vision of the future, when a great hero fell. Superman's death. I always thought that was a neat way to subtly restore his prominence. :-)

    ununnilium: I wouldn't be against the Marvels on their own Earth. They don't seem to fit the rest, no matter what Winick or others do...

    sallyp: Hee.

    marionette: Ragnell beat me to it! :-)

  • At October 11, 2006 4:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Personally, I like how the JSAers are time-tied, and wish there was more stuff like that in the DCU. `.`


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