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Awesome Almanac - A Journey Through The Multiversity Guidebook Part 1

Here at Transmissions Towers, we're well aware that the ol' Deep Space Transmissions hasn't been updated as often as it should of late.  While my multitude of assistants toil in obscurity finishing the annotations for Pax Americana and Thunderworld (lol - they will be done eventually though, honest guv), I thought I'd take the opportunity to share with you the work being done on the hot-off-the-presses Multiversity Guidebook *as it happens*.  There's a couple of reasons for this - firstly because I can't seem to get anything in a finished-enough state to put up lately so this keeps the wolves from the door content-wise, and secondly because this thing is going to be REALLY long...

Finally, it's also a prime opportunity for you (yes, YOU) to join the team by letting me know if I missed anything or got something horribly wrong.  You can always reach me on the Twitter, or alternatively you can email me here.

All of this will of course be folded into a proper annotations page for the Guidebook when it's finished.  I might even check the spelling and put some pictures in it if you're lucky.

So without further ado, here's a bit more than three and a half thousand words on Earths 1 through 10...





Earth 0

The main line New 52 DC Universe.  Pictured are the New 52 Justice League who made their debut in 2011's Justice League #1 by Geoff Johns and Jim Lee; from left to right, Cyborg (created by Marv Wolfman and George Perez in the New Teen Titans insert included in 1980's DC Comics Presents #26); Aquaman (created by Paul Norris and Mort Weisinger in 1941's More Fun Comics #73); Batman (created by Bill Finger and Bob Kane in 1938's Detective Comics #27); Wonder Woman (created by William Moulton Marston in 1941's All Star Comics #8); Superman (created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster in 1938's Action Comics #1); The Flash (created by Robert Kanigher, John Broome and Carmine Infantino in 1956's Showcase #4, based on the original Flash created by Gardner Fox and Harry Lampert in 1940's Flash Comics #1) and Green Lantern (created by John Broome and Gil Kane in 1959's Showcase #22, based on the original Green Lantern created by Martin Nodell and Bill Finger in 1940's All-American Comics #16)

Prior to The Multiversity, all of DC's main line superhero books since 2011's Justice League #1 (with the exception of the Earth 2 title launched in July 2012) have taken place on Earth 0.

 
Earth 1

DC's standalone graphic novel line, currently consisting of two volumes of J. Michael Straczynski and Shane Davis' Superman: Earth One, Geoff Johns and Gary Frank's Batman: Earth One, and Jeff Lemire and Terry Dodson's Teen Titans: Earth One; with one volume each of Superman and Batman and Grant Morrison and Yanick Paquette's Wonder Woman: Earth One scheduled for release in the first half of 2015. 

There was initially some confusion over whether the Earth One line would be included here as part of the Multiverse - DC Executive Editor Dan Didio has confirmed on numerous occasions not only that the books are meant to stand apart completely from DC's ongoing continuity but that they don't even share a common continuity between themselves; an impression that Jeff Lemire was also under when interviewed recently to promote his Teen Titans book.  Cannily, that confusion is addressed in the entry itself - "Time and space are still pliable, and nothing here is certain."

Given that Morrison's Wonder Woman book isn't scheduled to be released until May, this issue would technically be her first appearance.

 
Earth 2

Historically the home of DC's Golden Age stable, the current version of Earth 2 - a mixture of updated Golden Agers and new legacy characters battling against the forces of Jack Kirby's New Gods - made it's debut in 2012's Earth 2 #1 by James Robinson and Eduardo Pansica.   

Along the back row of the Earth 2 line-up (from left to right) are Huntress and Power Girl, daughter of the Earth 2 Batman and cousin of the Earth 2 Superman respectively.  This version of the Huntress first appeared in 2011's Huntress #1 by Paul Levitz and Marcus To (the artist on this issue's tale of two Batmans), and was based on the character created by Levitz and Joe Staton in 1977's DC Super-Stars #17.  This version of Power Girl first appeared in 2011's Mister Terrific #1, based on the character created by Gerry Conway, Ric Estrada and Wally Wood in 1976's All-Star Comics #58.  The pair currently star in the World's Finest title, launched in 2012. 

Earth 2's Batman, Thomas Wayne, is the father of a now-dead Bruce Wayne.  His turn as Batman was likely inspired by the 2011 Flashpoint: Batman Knight of Vengeance tie-in series by Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso.  Val Zod, Earth 2's current Superman, is the son of General Zod, long-time resident of the Phantom Zone and arch-nemesis of the Man of Steel.  He was created by Tom Taylor and Nicola Scott in 2014's Earth 2 #19 and was probably inspired at least in-part by Grant Morrison's Calvin Ellis, the black Superman of Earth 23.  This version of the Red Tornado, an android housing the consciousness Superman's dead wife Lois Lane, first appeared (I think) in 2013's Batman/Superman #2 by Greg Pak and Jae Lee and is based on the android hero who debuted in 1968's Justice League of America #64 by Gardner Fox and Dick Dillin.

In the front row we have Kendra Munoz-Saunders, a 'reimagining' of the Modern Age Hawkgirl, who first appeared in 1999's JSA Secret Files #1 and - according to Wikipedia - was created by Geoff Johns, James Robinson and David Goyer.  She in turn is based on the original Hawkgirl, the long-time girlfriend of the Golden Age Hawkman who first appeared in costume in 1941's All-Star Comics #5.  Earth 2's Green Lantern, Alan Scott, is based on the original Green Lantern created by Martin Nodell and Bill Finger in 1940's All-American Comics #16.  Earth 2's Flash, Jay Garrick is based on the original Flash who debuted in 1940's Flash Comics #1 by Gardner Fox and Harry Lampert.  All three made their first appearance in Robinson and Pansica's Earth 2 #1.  Finally, Earth 2's Doctor Fate is Khalid Ben-Hassin.  Based on the character created by Gardner Fox and Howard Sherman in 1940's More Fun Comics #55, Ben-Hassin was created by James Robinson and Brett Booth and first appeared in Earth 2 #2.

 
Earth 3

Evil counterparts to the JLA, the original Crime Syndicate - from left to right Power Ring, Superwoman, Ultraman, Owlman and Johnny Quick - first appeared in 1964's Justice League of America #29 by Gardner Fox and Mike Sekowsky.  Atomica, a Latino female take on the Atom who's pictured here sitting in Johnny Quick's palm, appeared briefly in DC's 2012's Free Comic Book Day offering, but didn't make her debut proper until 2013's Justice League #18 by Geoff Johns and Ivan Reis.  Deathstorm, mentioned but not pictured here, is Earth 3's counterpart to Firestorm.  He also first appeared in Justice League #18 but seems to be heavily based on a zombie version of Firestorm that appeared in 2010's Brightest Day #7 by Johns and Joe Prado (jeez, Brightest Day... remember that??).

After nobly sacrificing themselves in the Crisis on Infinite Earths, the original Crime Syndicate briefly resurfaced in the 1990's - bald, bug-eyed and relocated to the antimatter universe of Qward - before being rebooted once again (retaining the anti-matter) by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely in the 2000 JLA: Earth 2 graphic novel.   Last year's line-wide, Geoff Johns-steered Forever Evil event was largely based around this New 52 version of the Syndicate and the conclusion - the destruction of Earth 3 by the Anti-Monitor - is briefly summarised in the extended write-up on DC's Multiverse Map site.

Also mentioned in the extended write-up but not seen here, The Sea King and Grid were both introduced in (or in the run up to) Forever Evil.  Sea King, an evil counterpart to Aquaman, first appeared in Justice League #18, but apparently died soon after.  Grid, a sentient computer virus who took over Cyborg's original robot body, was first mentioned in Justice League #18 and fully appeared in Justice League #23, again by Johns and Reis.  Though it did become a member of the Crime Syndicate, Grid is actually from Earth 0, not Earth 3.


Earth 4

Home to the characters originally published by Charlton Comics in the 1960's, and the setting for The Multiversity one-shot Pax Americana.  From left to right the featured heroes are Peacemaker (created by Joe Gill and Pat Boyette in 1966's Fightin' 5 #40); The Question (created by Steve Ditko in 1967's Blue Beetle #1); Captain Allen Adam (who first appeared in 2008's Final Crisis: Superman Beyond #1 by Grant Morrison and Doug Mahnke, based on the Charlton hero Captain Atom created by Joe Gill and Steve Ditko in 1960's Space Adventures #33); Blue Beetle (created by Steve Ditko in 1966's Captain Atom #83, based on a Fox Comics character who debuted in 1939 and might have been created by Will Eisner); and Nightshade (created once again by Joe Gill and Steve Ditko in 1966's Captain Atom #82).

Positioning the blue-skinned Adam as the only super-powered character on Earth 4 is an obvious call-back to Doctor Manhattan from Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons' seminal Watchmen, which of course was also intended at one point early in its gestation to be based around the Charlton super-hero stable.

U-235, the unstable neo-element that granted Captain Adam his powers, is the isotope of uranium we use here on Earth 33 in nuclear weapons and some nuclear reactors.  Apparently a piece of U-235 the size of a grain of rice can produce energy equal to that contained in three tons of coal.  No citation, this is not Wikipedia.

 
Earth 5

Thunderworld, as featured in the Multiversity one-shot of the same name.  Home to characters originally published by Fawcett Comics in the 1940's and early 1950's, licensed by DC Comics in 1972 and finally acquired outright in 1994.  Prior to the Crisis on Infinite Earths, this world was known as Earth S (for Shazam), and was first identified as such (I think) in 1976's Justice League of America #135 by E. Nelson Bridwell, Marty Pasko, Dick Dillin and Frank McLaughlin.

Pictured, from left to right, are Mary Marvel (created by Otto Binder and Marc Swayze in 1942's Captain Marvel Adventures #18); Captain Marvel, the World's Mightiest Mortal (created by C.C. Beck and Bill Parker in 1940's Whiz Comics #2); Captain Marvel Junior, favourite superhero of the young Elvis Presley (created by Ed Herron and Mac Raboy in 1941's Whiz Comics #25); Tall Billy from the Lieutenant Marvels (based on real-life Fawcett staffer Paul Peck and created by C.C. Beck and an unknown writer in 1941's Whiz Comics #21); the powerless Uncle Marvel, a good natured huckster and Marvel Family hanger-on (created by Otto Binder and Marc Swayze in 1943's Wow Comics #18); Fat Billy and Hill Billy from the Lieutenant Marvels (once again based on real-life Fawcett staffers Frank Taggert and Ed Hamilton, they first appeared alongside Tall Billy in Whiz Comics #21); and finally Mister Tawky Tawny, an affable talking tiger created by Otto Binder and C.C. Beck in 1947's Captain Marvel Adventures #79.  Tawny is more often seen in a checked sports coat and slacks, but as of Thunderworld seems to have joined the Lieutenants Marvel full-time.  He previously made a memorable appearance in Morrison's Final Crisis mini-series in 2008.

The 'Thunderworld' name is derived from Captain Marvel's original name, Captain Thunder.  He appeared with the Captain Thunder moniker in a low-print run 'ashcan' comic, published in late 1939 by Fawcett with the intention of securing trademark rights, and titled either Flash Comics #1 or Thrill Comics #1 (copies have surfaced with both titles).  In the end though, Fawcett didn't manage to secure trademarks on either of the comic book titles - DC beat them to the punch with Flash Comics, and Standard's Thrilling Comics probably ruled out Fawcett using Thrill Comics - or the Captain Thunder name (though it's not very clear what exactly prompted Fawcett to abandon it in favour of Captain Marvel).  Morrison apparently wanted to use the Captain Thunder name for Thunderworld, but DC turned him down.  I'd imagine the legal position on that is petty damn complicated. 

A further twist in the tale came back in the early 00's, when DC officially abandoned the 'Captain Marvel' name in favour of 'Shazam' - Marvel have owned the trademark rights to publish a comic entitled 'Captain Marvel' since 1967 and have been very diligent in keeping the trademark in use since then.  Ironically, even though he didn't get the name he wanted, some commentators have held up Morrison getting to call him 'Captain Marvel' rather than 'Shazam' as an example of the writer receiving "preferential treatment" from DC.

New 52 Earth 0 versions of Captain Marvel and his arch-foe Doctor Sivana both appeared in a back-up strip by Geoff Johns and Gary Frank that began in 2012's Justice League #7 and ran through issue #21 of that title.
 

Earth 6

The setting for the Just Imagine Stan Lee's... series of books published by DC in 2001-2002, where Marvel figurehead Stan Lee and a parade of all-star artistic collaborators were given free-reign to rejig DC's icons in the Merry Marvel Manner (including giving a bunch of them Stan's trademark alliterative secret ID's)

From left to right that's Mary Maxwell, Earth 6's Flash, created by Stan and Kevin Maguire; Len Lewis, the Green Lantern of Earth 6, created by Lee and Dave Gibbons; Wayne Williams, alias Batman, created by Stan and Joe Kubert; Salden, the Superman of Earth 6, created alongside Lee's fellow Marvel alumnus John Buscema; Maria Mendoza, the Earth 6 Wonder Woman, created by Stan and Jim Lee (no relation, probably.  Or Probab-Lee if you'd prefer); and finally mild-mannered Interpol agent Robert Rogers, alias Shazam, created alongside Gary Frank.

Other residents of Earth 6 not pictured here include a villainous Robin; Ramon Raymond, this world's version of Aquaman; Joanie Jordan, Catwoman - a supermodel endowed with mystical powers when she and her cat were both struck by a strange bolt of green lightning; and lost astronaut Col. Larry Wilton, alias the Sandman.

Reverend Darkk (not Darrk as it's spelled here) and his Church of Eternal Empowerment appeared as the villains in all of the Just Imagine... one-shots, attempting to summon a monster named Crisis in order to conquer the world.  Lee's tale of this world's Justice League battling Crisis, with art by John Cassady, was the last issue to appear under the Just Imagine... banner.


Earth 7

Analogous in part to Marvel Comics' Ultimate line - an early 00's grittier, more 'realistic' interpretation of Marvel's crown jewels spearheaded by Mark Millar and Brian Michael Bendis - we first saw Earth 7 already decimated by The Gentry in the opening pages of The Multiversity #1.  The Crusader, on the far left and Thunderer front and centre, are the Essential Major Comics versions of Earth 8's American Crusader and Wundajin (or Marvel's Captain America and Thor if you'd prefer).  Behind Thunderer is "Doc" Future, Earth 7's equivalent to Marvel's Reed Richards of the Fantastic Four, and next to him is Walküre, a riff on Neil Gaiman's Angela, currently sister to Marvel's Thor and Loki (though she was originally created by Gaiman for Todd McFarlane's Spawn series in the 90's before he sold the character to Marvel in 2013).

Earth 7 is also home to analogues of Dark Horse Comics' more popular properties.  Golem is, I think, a take off of Paul Chadwick's Concrete, while Devilfist is pretty obviously a riff on Mike Mignola's Hellboy.  Initially I didn't have a clue who Microbot was intended to be - Prado looks to have just drawn a tiny 90's Iron Man, with red and yellow colour scheme intact - but over on Twitter, @DDRFalke suggested he might be a stand-in for Frank Miller and Geoff Darrow's Rusty, the Boy Robot (himself an anologue of Osamu Tezuka's Astro Boy/Mighty Atom).  I think he's probably right.

"The sole survivor of Earth 4..." is a typo, it should be "The sole survivor of Earth 7...".


Earth 8

A Marvel Comics analogue world, home to heroes like the Rampaging Retaliators (the Avengers), Bug (Spider-Man), Stuntmaster (Daredevil), Behemoth (the Hulk), the Future Family (the Fantastic Four), the G-Men (the X-Men), Wundajin (Thor), American Crusader (Captain America), and Machinehead (Iron Man), all of whom we saw or were mentioned in The Multiversity #1.  This reality's "Superman", Hyperius (possibly analogous to the Sentry, more likely Hyperion of Marvel's own JLA analogues, the Squadron Supreme) was noted as missing by American Crusader in that issue and we get our first glimpse of him here (on the left in the white suit and red cape).  Seen but not identified in The Multiversity #1 were Deadeye (Hawkeye), Ladybug (Spider-Woman), Kite (a female take on the Falcon), and Red Dragon (Black Widow).  Major Max is a stand-in for Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel.  The male 1970's version of Major Max (equivalent to Jim Starlin's Mar-Vell) was mentioned in - and appeared on Grant Morrison's sketch cover to - Pax Americana.  Morrison has established that these characters appear in comics and movies on other Earths under the Major Comics banner, hence Marvel Comics' Captain Marvel > Major Comics' Major Max.

All of these characters bar Wundajin (originally called Wandjina) were created by Grant Morrison, either in collaboration with Doug Mahnke (for the one-page Earth 8 cameo in Final Crisis: Superman Beyond #1) or with Ivan Reis in The Multiversity #1.  Wundajin was created by Mike Friedrich and Dick Dillin as one of the Champions of Angor, DC's pre-Crisis Avengers analogues, in 1971's Justice League of America #87.

The map icon for Earth 8 simultaneously recalls the Fantastic Four's logo and the classic 'DC Bullet' of the 1970's, 80's and 90's.


Earth 9

The setting for Tangent Comics, a fifth week event masterminded by Dan Jurgens that DC ran in 1997 and 1998, and returned for the Tangent: Superman's Reign mini-series in 2008. From left to right, that's the Earth 9 Superman (whose original Tangent one-shot was by Mark Millar and Jackson Guice, working as all of the creators did from Jurgens' concepts); Green Lantern (whose one-shot creators were James Robinson and J.H. Williams III), The Flash (originally by Todd Dezago and Gary Frank), Batman (written and drawn by Dan Jurgens with inks from Klaus Janson) and The Atom (written by Dan Jurgens, drawn by Paul Ryan).

Earth 9's Joker, mentioned but not seen here, appeared in her own one-shot in 1997 by Karl Kesel and Matt Haley, once again working from Jurgens' masterplan.

One of the defining points of departure of the Tangent universe was the escalation of the Cuban Missile Crisis into a limited nuclear war, destroying Florida and much of the South Eastern United States,  This geographical anomaly is reflected on the map icon for this Earth.


Earth 10

A world where World War II was won by the Nazis, Earth X, home to the heroes formerly published by Quality Comics in the 1940's and acquired by DC when they went out of business in the 50's, was first introduced to the DC Universe via the annual Justice League/Justice Society team-up in 1973's Justice League of America #107 by Len Wein and Dick Dillin.  Re-branded as Earth 10 when the 'new' Multiverse was revealed in the final issue of 52 - echoing Morrison's repositioning of Wolverine's 'Weapon X' designation as 'Weapon 10' during his New X-Men run - this world is the setting for the upcoming The Multiversity: Mastermen #1.

The New Reichsmen were almost certainly created by Grant Morrison either during or soon after 52, though Leatherwing, a Valkyrie Wonder Woman and a blonde Overman (all of whom were visually much closer to their Earth 0 counterparts than the Reichsmen) appeared alongside a Nazi Hawkman and Hawkwoman as part of the JLAxis (alias Die Gerechtigkeitliga - "The Justness League") in Countdown to Adventure #4 by Jimmy Palmiotti, Justin Gray and Fabrizio Fiorentino (most likely working from Morrison's notes) . 

Pictured from left to right are Earth 10's Batman analogue Leatherwing; Blitzen, this Earth's female Flash (who may switch sides and join the Cosmic Neighborhood Watch in Mastermen or The Multiversity #2 - it looks like she's on the cover of the latter with the other Watch members); the Valkyrie Brünhilde (named for a character in Richard Wagner's opera cycle Der Ring des Nibelungen, she appeared briefly in 52 #52 and again in the aforementioned Countdown to Adventure #4); and the tortured Overman, Earth 10's Superman analogue who first appeared in 52 #52 and played a significant role in Morrison and Doug Mahnke's Final Crisis: Superman Beyond.  Mentioned but not seen on the New Reichsmen side is their version of Aquaman, Underwaterman - also mentioned but not seen in 2008's Final Crisis: Secret Files.  A Nazi villain named Underwaterman appeared in a strip starring the long-forgotten Mouthpiece in 1942 Police Comics #12, published by Quality and also featuring strips starring future Freedom Fighters the Human Bomb, the Phantom Lady and Firebrand.  I guess we'll find out when Mastermen comes out whether they're the same character or not.

On the Freedom Fighters side are the Human Bomb (created by writer/artist Paul Gustavson in 1941's Police Comics #1), the Phantom Lady (created by Will Eisner and Jerry Iger's studio with art by Arthur Peddy, she first appeared in the same 1941 issue of Police Comics); and the Spirit of America, Uncle Sam (created by Will Eisner in 1940's National Comics #1, based on the 'personification f the United States' who's been around since the early 1800's). 

Mentioned in the description but not pictured are The Ray (created by Lou Fine in 1940's Smash Comics #14); Black Condor (created by Will Eisner and Lou Fine in 1940's Crack Comics #1); Doll Man (created by Will Eisner in 1939's Feature Comics #27) and Doll Woman (originally Doll Girl, she also debuted in Feature Comics #27, but didn't appear in costume until 1951's Doll Man #37.  She never made it into the 1970's and it was noted in the short-lived 1976 Freedom Fighters series that she'd died back on Earth X).  All of them first appeared in the DC Universe in Justice League of America #107.  Morrison's intention with the Earth 10 heroes is to reframe them as representatives of groups persecuted by the Nazis - Black Condor is actually black, The Ray is gay, Phantom Lady is a Romany gyspy etc.


See ya soon for 11 through 20...
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