Wednesday, May 02, 2007

DC's Multiverse Returns

Well, after spending the last year and a half taking the band-aid off one hair at a time, DC has finally taken the last hair off. The final issue of DC's interminable weekly soap, 52, reveals what the Infinite Crisis seemed to wimp out on, and what Brad Meltzer has been teasing us with in JLA: the multiverse is back.

If you're a fan of Earth 2 (where the original, golden age versions of Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, and their Justice Society, still exist), like me, you're in luck.

Earth-3--the mirror universe of DC mythology, where the heroes are villains and the villains are heroes--is also back.

Earth-4--where the characters acquired by DC from Charlton Comics (Blue Beetle, Captain Atom, The Question, etc) reside--is back. Earth-5--the Captain Marvel Family--is back. Etc etc.

So it's official: 22 years after it did away with the multiverse, DC has reversed the Crisis on Infinite Earths. *whew*

Way to go, DC!

I was really loving Infinite Crisis until it seemed to stop short of this, the logical conclusion of the story. I thought it was a tremendous wimp-out... And, while I'm relieved I was wrong about that, I'm still not wild about the daytime soap opera way we've been strung along--for a year--waiting for the other shoe to drop.

But still--better late than never. This is why JLA 0 featured a flash forward segment where the League grapples with Flash's discovery of "another earth."--Flash forward, not back. So, as much as 52 absolutely frames this as a restoration ("welcome home"), they're not bringing pre-Crisis continuity back so much as recreating the pre-Crisis premise, which lets them undertake new tellings of classic Earth-2 crossover stories ("Flash of Two Worlds," "Crisis on Two Earths," etc). And that sounds great to me.

I wonder if the pre-Crisis Legionnaires running around JLA and JSA at the moment are related to this, too. . . Taken together--the return of both the multiverse and the real Legion--I'm pretty happy with DC at the moment.

(I wouldn't mind seeing them do their own Ultimate-verse now... on Earth 50 or whatever...)

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8 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Earth 50 is the WILDSTORM Universe of Wildcats, Stormwatch, Wetworks, Gen13, Tranquilty, etc....

5/3/07, 9:48 AM  
Blogger James said...

Howdy - Found you your blog on the "Joe. My. God" blogreel.

I'm still on the fence about the return of Multiple Earths. On one hand, it officializes what has been practice on the DCU, meaning all the alternate realities, elseworlds, different futures, etc. I think it opens doors to good possibilities (for instance, Kingdom Come is now canon).

On the other, I really wish they stopped clinging so hard to the past and just moved forward. I always get the impression DC writers are the stereotypical 40 y-o nerd who so wants his beloved childhood comics from the 60's back.

In any case, I really enjoyed 52 - The execution was a bit flawed, with the WWIII thing, but the results were really, really fun.

And, of course, who could ask for more awesome covers??

Best,
J.

5/3/07, 10:26 AM  
Blogger Scott said...

anon... Did I miss that in the book? I am not too familiar with the Wildstorm universe, though I thought I saw one that seemed to feature Supreme... which would be the Image multiverse.

I imagine (as James says) that all the elseworlds have their own earths now... There is an All-Star Verse for example (which is basically the Silver Age bridge between the Golden Age earth and "New Earth.")

5/3/07, 11:27 AM  
Blogger James said...

Scott,

The Wildstorm Universe is, indeed, Earth-50. It was really only a matter of time, DC has been pushing for it for a while now.

J.

5/3/07, 12:00 PM  
Blogger Scott said...

I'm down with that. I was surprisingly moved by the two page splash at the end, where Rip Hunter tells Booster, "Welcome home." (Ironically, Booster didn't exist in the pre-crisis verse, but let's not quibble.)

5/3/07, 2:41 PM  
Blogger Lee said...

I'm intrigued by the return of the multiverse for a couple of reasons unrelated to Scott's reasons. (Not that I am one to *ever* take issue with Scott!--Just to be clear.)

I think, on one hand, this is a recognition that the DC-verse was imploding under its own weight much the way Marvel Universe had begun to crumple in the 1990s. The Heroes Reborn travesty tried to do a find a way to offer multiplicity but did so differently.In the end the Marvel ethos of "continuity" won out and Heroes Returned...to a big fat mess that actually helped drive me away for a very long time.

Why *I* kinda like DC's solution (contra Marvel's then or even currently)is that DC wants to have its cake and eat it too. That is, to give back the multiplicity that the Crisis erased while maintaining a coherence that was, I think we can agree, sadly lacking in the pre-Crisis world(s). Continuity and Multiplicity at least for now. I like it too.

Another thing which I find interesting here is that while DC has gone this route, Marvel going the opposite way and is instituting an even more coherent, focussed universe with Civil War and The Initiative.

If we see these as corporate strategies aimed at responding to changing realities (technology, media, demographics) and especially to the internet, we have to simplify but I think crystalize the point: Marvel has decided to go for HD broadband videostreaming while DC has opted for the I-tunes strategy. Both are true to their roots (Marvel was always serial drama; DC episodic TV) adapted to an age of new media. Who is right will be interesting and of course, the stories they tell along the way will be fun.

5/4/07, 12:23 AM  
Blogger Scott said...

hey there scott. it's the other scott (you owe me an email by the way mate)

i too am anxiously awaiting the reveal about what the Legionnaires in JLA/JSA have to do with all this. hoping we're not having them waved under our nose only to have them yanked away again.

i'm pretty happy with the 52-verse, but could have done without the ponderous journey to get there. i thought 52 #52 made the whole series seem pointless.

5/4/07, 9:06 AM  
Blogger Scott said...

Lee, I agree the DCU needed some streamlining--but I think they went way too far. It didn't end with compressing the multiverse. They divorced the books that became the core of the Vertigo line from the DCU... How could they do that?? I assume they'e got an Earth of their own now, too, 'cause there's a Book of Destiny floating around the new Brave & The Bold at the moment that appears to have no relation to the one Neil Gaiman appropriated for Sandman. (I don't know if that's good or bad. On the one hand, no one can fuck Gaiman's work up. On the other, part of the fun of Sandman is that it nominally occurs in the DCU.)

Anyway, getting back to your point, I always thought the original post-Crisis reboot in the 80s was at least in part about DC trying to be more like Marvel. They recruited John Byrne to relaunch Superman, for example. And they turned JLA into a comedy. I loved that incarnation of JLA, but in hindsight, doesn't it seem like evidence that DC didn't entirely believe in itself?

What's great about the current reboots at both companies is that, as you say, Marvel and DC are both now firmly focused on enhancing elements of their respective fictional worlds that differentiate them from each other.

It's a strange alignment, when you think abou it. The two fictional worlds are, at the moment, almost perfectly opposed.

You know when you're tuning into a mainstream Marvel comic these days that you're in the middle of a soapy political thriller... And a pretty damn good one, too, if you ask me, starring flawed, relatable, colorful human beings who happen to put on tights & a cape and go fight crime. There are schisms, well-motivated shifts in alliances, creepy fascist overtones, even new definitions of what it means to be a superhero and supervillain. It's a true paradigm shift, and they're exploring it, aggressively. And it's working for them.

When you tune into a mainstream DC comic (JLA, JSA, the Superman titles, the Batman books, the excellent Green Lantern), it's all about the restoration of tarnished icons. It's about legends reclaiming that status after a period of identity crisis... a period we now understand started far earlier than the mini-series of the same name. It started when they compressed the multiverse.

Poor DC. They're like the Democarts, always so painfully aware of their shortcomings, whereas Marvel is aggressively asserting itself--even if it's wrong.

5/5/07, 2:06 AM  

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