The TOP 13 Greatest – and Unhinged — Multiverse Stories

The Wrong Earth’s Tom Peyer takes you back to the good ol’, bizarre ol’ days …

One comic that’s got our name written all over it is The Wrong Earth, debuting 9/12.

It’s the first title to be launched by the new AHOY Comics, a company dedicated to celebrating the core of what we love about the medium, featuring creators like Grant Morrison, Jamal Igle, June Brigman, Stuart Moore and Tom Peyer. (Click here for the impressive initial roster of talent.)

Anyway, why are we so into The Wrong Earth, by Peyer and Igle? Because it basically answers the question of what would happen if Adam West’s Batman and Frank Miller’s Dark Knight switched places. Of course, the heroes are actually called Dragonflyman and Dragonfly and they wear varying shades of purple and green, but you get the gist. (By the way, check out Igle’s groovy character designs by clicking here.)

Now, Peyer, the company’s editor-in-chief, is a well-known comics history buff and since this series is imbued with the DNA of Silver Age multiple-earth awesomeness, we asked him to come up with this tongue-in-cheek list of the TOP 13 GREATEST – AND UNHINGED — MULTIVERSE STORIES. (Naturally, they’re all from DC.)

Check it out. You will not be disappointed:

By TOM PEYER

The Wrong Earth, my new series with artist Jamal Igle, is about a campy masked crime-fighter who accidentally swaps universes with his more modern, grim-and-gritty version. So, I’ve been giving a lot of thought to parallel worlds.

But I imagine everyone is thinking of parallel worlds. How can you get through a news day in 2018 without wanting to flee to a place where everyone’s made different choices? Wouldn’t you love to go to a world that’s just like home except you have super-powers, the spouse of your dreams, or democracy?

Comics have been routinely taking us there since the Silver Age, that time of outlandish and durable ideas. Before I think of the celebrated Crises and Multiversities of recent years, I always come back to these little-known stories that paved the way to places that are just like ours, yet shockingly different:

1. World’s Finest Comics #136, “The Batman Nobody Remembered!” Operating the Batplane in an electrical storm, Batman flies between twin peaks—he repeatedly refers to them as “twin peaks!”—and ends up on an earth where he never existed, where Superman and Robin are partners, and where the Joker is a law-abiding TV comedian. The Caped Crusader keeps pleading with people to recognize him, but of course they can’t. This was probably the first time I ever encountered the idea of parallel worlds, which should have been the thing to make me remember this story forever. But, while I couldn’t articulate it at the age of 9, the biggest surprise was seeing how Batman melts down when deprived of an appreciative audience.

2. Justice League of America #22, “Crisis on Earth-Two!” When DC consolidated its multiverse into one consistent universe back in 1985—a move I was powerless to stop—the main argument in favor of the cosmic purge was, “Things had gotten so complicated, no new reader could figure them out.” I have to concede the point. This issue, the second part of only the fourth story ever to feature heroes from Earth-One and Earth-Two, fills the entire splash with an enormous caption just to explain the issue before it.

3. Detective Comics #347, “The Strange Death of Batman!” It takes only nine pages for Batman to beat a new villain, the Bouncer, who can bounce. But just when it looks like the story is over, we switch to our Earth, where Batman writer Gardner Fox — I don’t believe he did this — replots the story we just read so that it comes out differently … “to exercise his imagination.” Gardner, what were you doing the first time you wrote the story? Exercising your imagination! And getting paid! Of all the unlikely, unbelievable, preposterous ideas Mr. Fox came up with in the Silver Age, the writer who keeps writing after work is the absolute wildest.

4. Superman #146, “Superman’s Greatest Feats!” Superman’s ex, mermaid Lori Lemaris, tells him he ought to go back in time and prevent the sinking of Atlantis. Superman’s like “Sorry, Lori, but I’ve tried to change history before, and I’ve always failed! It’s impossible!” But Lori won’t listen, so Superman drags himself through the time barrier to go through the motions. But it works! He saves Atlantis! Feeling pretty good about himself, Superman takes the slow route home, altering events in different eras along the way. He saves Roman Christians, Nathan Hale, General Custer (!), President Lincoln (skipping over slavery), and the entire population of Krypton. Then Superman realizes he’s been flying through the wrong time barrier! It’s been transporting him through the history of a parallel universe! He hasn’t changed anything that matters! So, the Man of Steel returns to (our) Atlantis and breaks the news to Lori that altering the past is not going to happen. Suddenly, she’s cool with it.

5. Superboy #117, “Superboy and the 5 Legion Traitors!” In a distant galaxy a sun goes nova, flinging Superboy into a nearly identical parallel universe where his 30th Century friends, the Legion of Super-Heroes, are evil. As in many such stories, the Boy of Steel believes he’s back on his own Earth until he puts the clues together. What tips him off? His hometown of Smallville is spelled “Smallvile,” and the Legionnaires “didn’t salute the Legion flag… though the Super-Hero Club Constitution requires them to salute it at all times!” There’s also this Superboy-narrated panel, in which we learn that, to him, there exists a creature stranger, more fantastic, more unlikely than a criminal or an ape-like being:

6. Green Lantern #32, “Green Lantern’s Wedding Day!” Hal (Green Lantern) Jordan proposes to Carol Ferris, she accepts, and they tie the knot. Guess where we are.

7. Superman #215, “Lois Lane… Dead… Yet Alive!” Strap yourself in, because we’re about to visit a parallel world inside an Imaginary Story! How non-canonical can you get? Superman marries Lois, they have a kid, a bad guy kills her, and a grieving Man of Steel spends the rest of the story trying to put the super-toothpaste back in the tube. First, he builds a robot Lois. He’s getting kind of sweet on her (it?) until he abruptly realizes that this might be unhealthy. Then Lois shows up alive, but she turns out to be a villainous shape-shifter in disguise. Finally, he finds a parallel world whose Lois really is alive. He impulsively proposes to her, which puts that world’s happily celibate Superman on the spot. So, the two Supermen swap Earths and our guy romances his second Lois (fourth if you count the robot and the villainous shape-shifter). Sample thought balloon: “I needn’t tell her I’m not the Superman she fell for, but a double from another Earth!”

8. Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen #117, “Planet of the Capes!” In which we learn the lesson, “Don’t ever base a story on a play on words.”

9. Action Comics #238, Tommy Tomorrow in “Marooned in the Fourth Dimension!” Did I say that parallel worlds are shockingly different? No difference could be less shocking than this. Spaceman Tommy Tomorrow crosses over to a fourth-dimensional Earth exactly like ours, except everything is backwards! Like in a mirror! Even the writing! And people talk backwards, too! Backwards, I tell you!

10. Superman’s Girl Friend, Lois Lane #94 & #96, “The Lois Lane in the Mystic Mirror!” & “Weep for Lois Lane’s Baby!” Our Lois swaps Earths with Their Lois, who’s married to Superman and they have a kid. Our Lois is pretty happy to be there.

11. Wonder Woman #59, “Wonder Woman’s Invisible Twin!” An unseen force compels Wonder Woman to perform a series of shockingly self-destructive acts: choking herself, hurling through a plate glass window, jumping into a lake, diving into oncoming traffic. Why? Because she’s been mirroring the actions of a “twin world” Wonder Woman, who’s been choking, hurling, jumping and diving as she fights to repel an invasion.

12. World’s Finest Comics #148, “Superman and Batman — Outlaws!” On this Earth, Lex Luthor and Clayface are Your Two Favorite Heroes, while Superman and Batman are dastardly criminals—until our Superman gives Luthor the idea to brainwash them into being good guys. Happy ending!

13. Superman’s Panel, Jimmy Olsen #93, “The Batman-Superman of Earth-X!” Stop. Just stop.

Tom Peyer is the editor-in-chief of AHOY Comics. Its launch title, The Wrong Earth, ships September 12.

MORE

— BUILDING A MULTIVERSE: Jamal Igle Designs THE WRONG EARTH. Click here.

— 13 JLA-JSA COVERS to Make You Feel Good. Click here.

Author: Dan Greenfield

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2 Comments

  1. There was also a Supergirl story in Adventure 383 that had Supergirl blasted into a parallel world where she was dead, and she met historical figures who were also alive.

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