DC Comics, March 2015, Color, 80pgs, $7.99
Written by GRANT MORRISON ; Art by NICOLA SCOTT, GARY FRANK, KLAUS JANSON, CAMERON STEWART, DAN JURGENS, CHRIS SPROUSE, BEN OLIVER and others; Cover by RIAN HUGHES; 1:25 Variant Cover by TOM FOWLER; 1:50 Variant Cover by PHIL JIMENEZ; 1:100 Variant Cover by GRANT MORRISON
The guidebook to the greatest adventure in DC’s history is here!
With a detailed concordance featuring each of the 52 worlds in the Multiverse, a complete history of DC Comics’ universe-shattering “Crisis” events, a map of all known existence, AND an action-packed dual adventure starring Kamandi of Earth-51 alongside the post-apocalyptic Atomic Knight Batman of Earth-17 and chibi Batman of Earth-42, this 80-page mountain of MULTIVERSITY madness cannot be missed!
The MULTIVERSITY GUIDEBOOK contains everything you ever wanted to know about DC’s parallel worlds and their super-heroic inhabitants. Meet the Agents of W.O.N.D.E.R. The Light Brigade, the Super-Americans and the Love Syndicate! Meet the Accelerated Man, Aquaflash, BiOmac and more!
Overflowing with today’s top artists and completely written by Grant Morrison himself, readers of the DC Universe can’t afford to pass up this oversized, sixth chapter of MULTIVERSITY!
The Multiversity Guidebook, in which Grant Morrison and an all-star squadron of artistic collaborators cohere the DC Universe for the very first time into a singular tale spanning 75 years, more than a million pages and many thousands of chroniclers. Perhaps the most complex (...sentient?) fictional universe ever created?
DC cosmology given a Zoroastrian polish, Barry Allen cast as Jesus Christ, a framing story inspired by an issue of Kamandi completed in 1977 but not published until 2017 (nearly two years after the Guidebook itself appeared)... this one really has Got It All. There's even the beginnings of a biting commentary on corporate comics monstrous tendency to eat it's own young, though somewhat fittingly, that thread ends up To Be Continued in Ultra Comics, where the *real* meat is gnawed off the bones...
Let's get down to it then. The 25,000 or so words that follow took me about two years to write. Let's hope it doesn't take as long for you to read...
Cover - The background of Rian Hughes' regular cover looks like a homage to the classic Looney Tunes opening titles. As for the insets, the top left is a collection of head shots, a few of which are easy to identify (Hawkman, Alley Kat Abra from the Zoo Crew, maybe Black Canary, Etrigan the Demon, the Crime Syndicate's Owlman, the New 52 Wonder Woman, Cyborg, maybe a couple of Green Lanterns), but most of them appear to be Hughes originals. Bottom left is the Hall of Heroes from Hughes' Multiversity Map, a small version of which also features bottom right. Top right is Kamandi and front and centre are the Batmen of Earths 17 and Earth 42, the stars of this issue's framing sequence..
Tom Fowler provides the 1:25 homage cover this issue, showcasing Kamandi in an unlikely tribute to Mike Zeck's 1991 cover for Deathstroke The Terminator #1.
Phil Jimenez handles the 'History of the DC Multiverse' cover, with an Infinite Crisis-inspired pin-up featuring (across the back row, left to right) Superboy Prime, regular-continuity Superman, the Golden Age Superman of Earth 2 and his wife, Lois Lane (also of Earth 2). Across the bottom, again from left to right, we've got Bart Allen as Kid Flash, Power Girl, Nightwing, Wonder Woman and Batman. On Batman's left is Alexander Luthor of Earth 3, and regular-continuity Lex Luthor at the end. Finally, in the inset underneath Wonder Woman (which, incidentally is shaped like the logo for the Infinite Crisis tie-in series The OMAC Project) is Wonder Girl mourning the death of regular-continuity Superboy, Kon-El.The 1:100 Morrison sketch cover features GM's heavily Buzz Lightyear-inspired oiginal design for the Batman of Earth 17. Nothing much of note to see here, but interesting to see Morrison's note regarding the colour of Atomic Knight Batman's suit - "Light blue on the costume but use swimming pool blue used on old covers like..." Like what?? Damn UPC boxes...
And if you found that confusing, just wait until we get into the real meat of this issue. Sheesh...
Page 1 - 'Maps and Legends' is a song from REM's 1985 album Fables of the Reconstruction (also the source for the name 'Driver 8' from Doom Patrol).
'Hannibal' Sivan returns from last issue. We don't find out for certain which world he's from, but Earth 40 seems a good bet given the comic in his pocket in panel 3. He's busy incinerating Earth 42 J'onn J'onzz, whose cry of "M'yri'ah!" (J'onn's long-dead Martian wife) echoes the Martian Manhunter's 2008 death at the hands of the Secret Society in Final Crisis #1. Chibi Cyborg and Aquaman are already done for by the looks of it.
In all likelihood, Chibi Sivana really hasn't ever killed anyone, given that everybody on his home planet is a mindless puppet robot in thrall to a terrible higher power, as per the conclusion of this issue..
Page 2 - Chibi Hawkman and (a beardless, natch) Chibi Green Arrow join the fray.
"We lost Wonder Woman and Steel to that box", they've already passed through the transmatter cube to the House of Heroes, as seen in The Multiversity #1.
The gag later in the issue is that Hannibal Sivana hasn't made the trip to Earth 42 to recruit his Chibi doppleganger into the Legion of Sivanas, but solely to grab a quick snack for his reptile counterpart from Earth 26.
The Legion of Sivanas' robot henchmen are significantly smaller than the one that popped up on Earth 23 back in issue #1, but a pretty good match for those we saw in Thunderworld.
Obviously we (deliberately) can't see what Sivana is saying in the final panel, but we learn in the The Multiversity #2 that the word-key for the transmatter array is "S.O.S.". At first glance that would seem not to jibe especially well with all the talk of super high frequencies later this issue.
Page 4 -The Batman of Earth 17 makes his debut, equal parts Buzz Lightyear and Judge Dredd. 'Krakkin' is subbing for Dredd's 'Drokkin' in the future swears department.
I think that's just a generic raygun on Sivana's workbench there, though the colouring suggests it might be a specific reference to something that I can't find. Looks like maybe a model of the Transmatter Cube next to it, or maybe a Mother Box?
The 'Dark Tower of Luthex' might be a nod to Stephen King's Dark Tower series, which also features knights and radiation in some capacity (sorry, haven't read any of it and it's thousands of pages long); certainly meant to invoke some ind of Arthurian deal anyway. The Cosmic Grail is whatever the sole object to survive the destruction of the Earth 15 universe was (as noted in the Earths survey later this issue). It may be a Green Lantern power battery as suggested by the picture (but not the text) accompanying that entry. Either way, we don't get any further update on Batman's quest for it either this issue or anywhere else for that matter.
Page 5 - We'll actually see the Rose and the Tomb from Batman's dream on page 13. The Four-Stone is probably the Mother Box as Rubik's Cube we see on page 26.
Muties, mockeries... More Dredd chat. 'Joker-dammit' = Goddammit (or Gruddammit in the Dredd-verse). Morrison is so good at suggesting background details with little throwaway bit like this - in a post-Apocalyptic world gone mad has the Joker been elevated to a deity? A devastating nuclear war as the accident that drove God herself insane...
Earth 42 Dick probably donned the cowl after Chibi Bruce was killled by Superdoomsday, as seen in flashback in Action Comics #9.
Page 6 - Members of the Legion of Sivanas seen here include a black Sivana from Earth 23, Count Sivana, a vampire from Earth 43, a lady Sivana from Earth 11, a snake Sivana from Earth 26 and a robot Sivana from Earth 44, all of whom also appeared briefly last issue. 'Goatee and sunglasses' Breaking Bad Sivana, baby Sivana and Luchador Sivana also popped up in Thunderworld, though it's not immediately obvious which Earth any of them come from. Somebody suggested the mash-up Earth 32 as the home for the guy in the Luchador mask - a combination of Sivana and Bane, and I kind of like that one. As per last issue, the rest of the screens are filled with generic non-specific Sivanas who could be from anywhere.
The Sivana's synthetic copy of the Rock of Eternity - home of the wizard Shazam - functions like a reverse TARDIS - smaller on the inside.
Page 7 - 52 Sivanas with a collective IQ of 80,000 works out at a mightily impressive IQ of 1,538 each
Dr. Hoot, a perennial thorn in the side of Captain Carrot and the Justa-Lotta Animals, hails from Earth 26 and first appeared in Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew #14 by E. Nelson Bridewell and Scott Shaw. As per Action Comics #9, the Lex Luthor of Earth 23 also built his own Transmatter Array after seeing it in a dream.
Page 8 - The Marvel Family's appearance here recalls the triumphant final panel of Thunderworld.
Is that chibi Sivana's lab coat they're casting aside before re-entering the Transmat machine? Poor guy/weird big-head baby/evil robot...
Page 9 - Red skies have, since the original Crisis on Infinite Earths, traditionally signified universe-in-peril levels of Bad News in the DC Universe.
Eliot R. Brown's Gotham City map - heavily referenced in Morrison's Batman Incorporated - shows the Finger River running right through the middle of the city, but it appears to have been renamed Gotham River for the map used in Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight movie. In the 1966 Batman movie the headquarters of the United Worlds Convention stood on the banks of the East Gotham River
'Rad-pits' are straight out of the Judge Dredd playbook. "Mumdads" and "Shamblers" are presumably just more post-apocalypse 2000AD-style jive talk.
Heavily talked-up by Morrison in pre-publicity for the series, the device of one world's comic books showing what's actually happening on another Earth in the Multiverse is a little bit underused to my mind for most of the series, but it gets some heavy play here.
Page 10-11 -And we're away to Kamandi's Earth 51, with Prince Tuftan, Ben Boxer and Kamandi (all Kirby originals who first appeared in Kamandi #1) washing up on the shores of the Island of the God Watchers. Tuftan has a copy of Jack Kirby's famous 'Earth A.D.' map in his hands, originally seen in Kamandi #32.
Kirby never got around to visiting the Island of the God Watchers, but Jack C. Harris, who eventually took over as Kamandi scripter after Kirby left the book to return to Marvel in 1976, did, in 1978's Kamandi #57. There, Kamandi met the surfing, fish-faced God Watchers and ended up fighting the Legion of Super-Heroes' Karate Kid inside a magical movie screen (...and people say the book went off the boil after Kirby left).
From what we saw of the Island back in 1978, the Aztec pyramid is new (well, not *new* but you know what I mean...), as are the idol heads up on top of the cliff. Obviously, both are Very Kamandi though.
The skulls on spikes that our heroes encounter here on the beach are the skulls of God Watchers, and the drive-in theater on the beach is presumably that same magical movie screen from Kamandi #57-58.
Page 12 - Flower, Kamandi's missing beau, first appeared in Kamandi #5, but was killed by Puma Men in the following issue. Just a few months later Kamandi hooked up with her twin sister, Spirit (the wag...), who remained with him on and off until the series abruptly ended mid-storyline with issue #59. This Post-Crisis, Post-Infinite Crisis, Post-52 Kamandi doesn't seem to have visited the Island of the God Watchers before, so maybe his first girlfriend is still alive too? Or maybe all involved forgot that Flower and Spirit were two separate (but identical, natch) characters? Who knows...
Of course Darkseid's tomb has big stone carvings of his head either side of the door. *All* of Darkseid's stuff has big stone carvings of his head on it...
Page 13 - I've definitely read somewhere (but can't find the source now, bugger) that Harris was intending way back in 1978 to reveal that Darkseid's tomb was located here on Kamandi's Earth, and that The Vortex on the Earth A.D. map would be both the inside of the tomb itself and a gateway to the larger Multiverse (as it pretty much is here). I also remember reading (probably in the same place, wherever that was) that this was pretty much Kirby's intention from the get-go, he just never got around to it while he was on the book. Certainly the until-recently unpublished Kamandi #60 (printed for the first time 'officially' in 2017's Kamandi Challenge Special #1, it had previously been included in the Canceled Comics Cavalcade #2 ashcan from 1978), where Kamandi enters The Void itself, would bear at least some of this out as accurate.
"Maybe the Gods are the watchers..." Tuftan is looking up at us, the readers of course, as well as the New Gods, providing off-panel commentary.
Presumably Tuftan's found the Rose That Grows In Winter from Bat-Dredd's dream back on page 5. The Tomb of Ages would be Darkseid's tomb (tying back to the Daksied-centric 'Rock of Ages' storyline from Morrison's JLA). The Rose seems to give some indication that Flower has been here and that the Kamandi gang are on the right path.
Page 14-15 -The Screaming Mountains fit right in with the other landmarks on the Earth A.D. map, though I think they're new for this issue. Supertown, the floating home of the New Gods here on Earth 51, was the capital city of New Genesis in Kirby's original New Gods run. As shown at the end of Final Crisis, after Orion and Darkseid's death the New Gods have relocated to Earth A.D, though 'emanations' of them still appear throughout the Multiverse. This is pretty much the 'idea of a bullet' stuff from Final Crisis writ large.
Clockwise from the far left here in panel 2 we have Takion, who first appeared in 1996's Takion #1; former Female Fury Big Barda (1971's Mister Miracle #4); her husband Mister Miracle (1971's Mister Miracle #1); Izaya, the Highfather (1971's New Gods #1); based on the costume this looks like Himon, creator of the Mother Box, who first appeared in a flashback in 1972's Mister Miracle #9, though the colourist has (mistakenly?) coloured the figure as though he's Orion, Darkseid's (still dead at this point following his murder in Final Crisis) son, who first appeared in 1971's New Gods #1; next up is Lonar from 1971's Forever People #5; Fastbak (1971's New Gods #5); Avia, wife of Highfather (she first appeared - and died - in 1971's New Gods #7. Looks like she got better though); and Lightray (1971's New Gods #1).
All of them were created by The King, Jack Kirby, as part of his original Fourth World Saga, except Takion, who was added to the mythos significantly later by Paul Kupperberg and Aaron Lopresti.
All this jazz about 'emanations' and 'touching many worlds' is designed to reconcile Morrison's more esoteric take on the New Gods with the more standard super-hero fare of e.g. Geoff Johns' New 52 Justice League, which has featured Darkseid prominently throughout.
"What dread hand unlocked his tomb?" Capitalist market forces, if The Multiversity #2 is anything to go by. More on this later.
Ben Boxer has always had the cyclo-heart and the ability to transform into a silver armoured form, but Morrison melds this with Kirby's OMAC here, adding the Brother Eye satellite from that series too.
Page 16 - BiOMAC's were referred to in Final Crisis too, both in the series proper, when the Question led the Black Gambit group through to the Earth 51 universe, and in the Resist one-shot that Morrison (and everybody else) largely ignored. They're definitely one those elements of Final Crisis that never really got the development or resolution it needed, becoming little more than a throwaway reference in the end.
Page 17 - The Kangarat Murder Society, residents of Australia here on Earth A.D. were featured just an issue of two prior to the God Watchers in Jack C. Harris' Kamandi run. They were first mentioned on Kirby's map but again I don't think he got to them during his time on the book.
Comic books as cave paintings inside the tomb of a God. "Be careful Kamandi. Stories can be dangerous.", a concise summary of one of the main points of this whole Multiversity series, explored in depth in the Ultra Comics one-shot.
The panels of the tomb show the beginnings of the story that starts over the page - first the flaw, then the eyes of the Monitor-Mind, examining it.
Page 18 - "AND THEN!" The DC Universe's creation myth starts (and ends, as we see in Final Crisis: Superman Beyond), with 'To Be Continued...'.
Monitor/Anti-Monitor as Ahura Mazdā/Ahriman, the primal creation/destruction spirits of the dualistic doctrine of Persian Zoroastrianism, one of the world's oldest documented religious systems.
The bottled flaw is the Orrery, the 'flesh' of the multiverse itself; the physical world, the toil through which the DC Universe characters must transcend to regain the perfection of the Void and rejoin the Monitor-Mind.
On a more Christian tip, you can read 'Science Monitor' here as 'Angel'. Dax Novu (possibly from the Latin Dux Nova - "New Leader"), sent down to study the flaw, is corrupted by it and becomes Mandrakk/Satan. The Fallen One. His ultimate fate is documented in Final Crisis.
Page 19 - "And so begins all things... with a Flash..." Here and over the next few pages, Morrison is essentailly painting Barry Allen as the Jesus figure in his revised DC chronology. The discoverer of the multiverse and the first to transcend it's immutable boundaries. Hence, Allen dying to save and reconstitute the Multiverse in Crisis on Infinite Earths *was* a perfect ending for the character. If only they hadn't ever brought him back...
Page 20 - A lightning flash; clean-cut police scientist Barry Allen doused in esoteric chemicals. The pointing hand device was introduced by Flash artist Carmine Infantino in the early days of the strip. From Jim Amash and Eric Nolen-Weathington's book Carmine Infantino: Penciler, Publisher, Provocateur:
The comic book Barry is reading is Flash Comics #24 from December 1941. Though it does feature the second appearance of Hawkgirl/Hawkwoman there doesn't appear to be anything in it that's especially significant to what's going on here in the Guidebook.
Given it happened back in the olden golden days of super-compression, all of the Cosmic Harmonics shenanigans detailed in the captions here happened in the space of one issue - 1961's The Flash #123, by Gardner Fox and Carmine Infantino - really, the first appearance of the DC Multiverse. Panel five is a reproduction of Infantino and Murphy Anderson's cover to that issue, featuring the first meeting between the Flashes of Earth One (Barry Allen) and Earth Two (Jay Garrick). Bryan Hitch's take on a scene from this story was featured on the 'History of the Multiverse' variant cover for The Multiversity #1.
Panel six is a reproduction of the cover to 1963's Justice League of America #21 by Mike Sekowsky and Murphy Anderson, an issue that saw the first meeting of the JLA and their Earth Two counterparts from the 1940's, the Justice Society of America. Representing the JSA here, from left to right, are Hawkman, Doctor Fate, Black Canary, the original Green Lantern, Hourman and the Atom. Representing the JLA here are an almost-but-not quite Big 7 of Wonder Woman, J'onn J'onzz, Batman, Green Lantern Hal Jordan, Aquaman, Superman and Green Arrow. Guillem March (barely) reinterpreted this cover for the 'History of the Multiverse' variant of The Multiversity: The Society of Super-Heroes #1.
Page 21 - Panel one references a gathering that doesn't actually happen until The Multiversity #2, released a couple of months after the Guidebook itself. From the left along the front are the original Flash, Jay Garrick - formerly a resident of Earth 2, though as of this writing he doesn't exist in DC's 'current' continuity; next to Jay is what looks like John Wesley Shipp from the short-lived 1990 Flash TV show - his is the only Flash suit I can think of where his mask covers his nose (though as with all of the various TV and movie versions of DC's characters, he isn't usually considered a part of the 'official' DC Universe); front and centre is Earth 0's Barry Allen, Prime-Flash if you like; in the yellow costume with the red 'Zoom!' streak is Speed Freak from Earth 47's Love Syndicate of Dreamworld; and down front next to her is the Earth 42's 'chibi' Flash.
Next row up, starting from behind tin-helmet Jay Garrick, is the Flash from the current New 52 Earth 2 comic, confusingly also called Jay Garrick; next to him is Red Racer from Earth 36; the Accelerated Man from Earth 19; the robot Mercury Flash from Earth 44; Johnny Quick from Earth 3; Earth 18's Trigger Twins; and finally on the far right Danica Williams, the Flash of Earth 12.
Across the back, once again from the left, is Wally West, the original Kid Flash, who, like Jay Garrick, doesn't really exist in DC's current continuity (until 2016's DC Rebirth anyhow); Blitzen, the Nazi Flash of Earth 10; probably the black-clad Flash from Frank Miller's Dark Knight Strikes Again (in which case he'd be from the junked Earth 31 - see below for more details); a Flash in a blue jacket?; and finally on the right what looks like the original Reverse Flash, Professor Zoom.
More details for most of these Flashes in the individual Earth entries below.
Panel two references Neal Adams and Dick Giordano's iconic 1971 cover to DC Comics' 100 Page Super Spectacular #6. Across the back row is a tiny bit of Power Girl; Plastic Man; possibly the original Doctor Midnite; Earth 2's Robin (sporting his 1970's 'adult Robin' costume that Morrison wanted Damien Wayne to wear in his and Quitely's Batman and Robin); Blue Beetle Ted Kord; possibly the Red Tornado in his original red and purple costume; the Spectre and, on the far right, someone in white trunks, don't know who though. Down front are Aquaman; Al Pratt, the original Atom; Hawkman; Superman; Wonder Woman (or more accurately, the Earth 2 Wonder Woman in her 1940's bathing suit costume as per the Adams/Giordano original. The Diana Prince of Earth 1 was at that point a super-powerless kung-fu kicking Emma Peel-a-like); Batman; the Ted Knight version of Starman; Black Canary; and Captain Marvel.
Plastic Man, Blue Beetle and Captain Marvel weren't in the original Adams/Giordano piece. They're presumably included here as a nod to their pre-Crisis status as natives of various alternate Earths parallel to the main continuity (X, 4 and S respectively). Of the various Earth icons in front of them, only the square Bizarro Earth is easily identifiable.
Panel three shows Superman and Wonder Woman battling the Anti-Monitor's Shadow Demons from Marv Wolfman and George Perez's Crisis on Infinite Earths #12. As detailed in the captions, 1985's Crisis was DC's first and arguably most successful effort at cleaning house as far as their parallel Earths are concerned. Apparently inspired by Wolfman's decree that DC's 'infinite Earths' model was "too confusing" for the casual reader, Crisis' ultimate goal was to compress all of the wonderful insanity of DC's first 50 years into one consistent, tonally-even continuity, ditching too-far-out concepts like the Zoo Crew, Kamandi and Ultraa (all of whom, not coincidentally, feature heavily in The Multiversity) along the way. Going all the way back to his run on Animal Man, Morrison has long been vocally opposed to the editorial mindset that took effect after the Crisis - the Inferior Five are too silly, Ultra the Multi-Alien doesn't exist anymore - while using the details of the mini-series itself in series like Final Crisis and Superman Beyond as a tool to establish his own, more inclusive take on DC's infinite cosmology.
Page 22 - Panel one is a recreation of page 22 of 1994's Zero Hour #1 by Dan Jurgens and Jerry Ordway, minus the time-travelling Waverider and Extant (whose backstory is much too convoluted to go into here - he's basically an evil Hawk from Hawk and Dove). From left to right across the back we have Captain Atom, Green Arrow, Green Lantern Kyle Rayner (inbetween Hal's legs), and a time-lost Batgirl. In the foreground is former Green Lantern Hal Jordan as the villainous Parallax, standing over a stricken and be-mulleted Superman. Hal's holding Wally West's empty Flash suit, though Wally's apparent death in the story is eventually revealed as a fake-out.
Zero Hour was an effort by DC editorial to 'fix' the confusion that had arisen after the uneven implementation of the new post-Crisis status quo - Superman was all-new as of John Byrne's Man of Steel, but Batman and the Justice League carried on with at least some of their historic baggage intact. Was Superman in the Justice League? Sort of, but not 'officially'. Was Wonder Woman? Definitely not; her place being taken by Black Canary (who had her own set of continuity headaches given her powers supposedly came from her being transported from Earth 2 to Earth 1 as a child...). Zero Hour would solve all of this by resetting the timeline once again, with the point of difference this time being a rock solid DC Universe timeline established at the series conclusion (indeed, it was included in Zero Hour #0 - the last issue of the series - on the inside of the fold-out back cover). This would prove to be a mixed blessing to say the least, with Bat-office chief Denny O'Neil leveraging the hard reset to carve out ludicrous edicts like the world at large believing Batman to be nothing but an urban legend, and that pretty much every Batman comic written by Mike W. Barr was now out of continuity (including Year Two and the Son of the Demon graphic novel that inspired Morrison to create Damian Wayne). Interviews at the time suggest that Morrison believed Zero Hour's brief revival of various silly old Silver Age parallel Earth concepts - only for them to be absolutely erased from existence once and for all at the series' conclusion - owed a heavy debt to his concluding arc on Animal Man, though its fair to say in execution Zero Hour is at best a glossy and vacuous Hollywood remake that's not a patch on the arthouse original, and at worst it's aims were in direct opposition to what Morrison was trying to say in Animal Man.
Apparently Mike Carlin, then-DC Universe head-honcho and co-architect of Zero Hour alongside Jurgens and editor K.C. Carlson, *really* hated what Morrison did on Animal Man, seeing it as a direct violation of the consistent tone that editorial were trying to achieve across the line. Maybe it's best to consider Zero Hour - in effect a retread of the last arc of Animal Man as the editors would like it to have been - as a historical precursor to Dan Dido's wrong-headed proclamation of Countdown as "52 done right"?
Ten years after Zero Hour was published, in Geoff Johns and Ivan Reis' 2004 Green Lantern: Rebirth mini-series, it would be revealed that Hal Jordan - Zero Hour's main villain - was being manipulated into madness by an evil yellow space monster (also called Parallax). Parallax was also referred to as the "Fear Thing" back in the Society of Super-Heroes one-shot.
Panel two is a recreation of page 16 of Infinite Crisis: Secet Files and Origins 2006 by Marv Wolfman, Dan Jugens, Jerry Ordway, Cam Smith, Art Thibert and Nelson. After a bit of a lay-off, Infinite Crisis was DC's third attempt to reboot their universe, though when all the shouting and dismemberment was over, it didn't seem to even have as questionably noble a purpose as Zero Hour - continuity-wise, everything was much the same after it had finished bar a few minor details (Batman once again captured his parent's murderer, Power Girl was once again unequivocally from Krypton and definitely not from Atlantis). Series writer Geoff Johns managed to keep interest up in the early issues by cannily aping iconic moments from older, better comics (primarily Crisis on Infinite Earths itself, but also much of Alan Moore's DC Universe milieu), but in the end it wasn't so much a story about anything as a celebration of comics about other comics.
The panel here features angry teenage dickhead Superboy Prime "punching reality" so hard that it corrects a bunch of continuity headaches bothering the editorial teams at the time. The images inside the shards look like they've been Photoshopped in from the Infinite Crisis panel (which, in fairness, looks to have Photoshopped them in from the original source in some instances - Jim Aparo's Death in the Family cover especially) in a slightly different configuration. Clockwise from the top they show the original 1970's Dave Cockrum version of Wildfire from the Legion of Super-Heroes; what looks like a scene from issue #10 of Crisis on Infinite Earths when all of Earth's heroes witness the recreation of the universe after the Anti-Monitor has destroyed the Multiverse; Mark Waid and Barry Kitson's 'Threeboot' Legion of Super-Heroes, first seen in the debut issue of their eponymous 2004 series; three versions of the rocket that brought Superman to Earth from Krypton (from the Golden Age, the John Byrne post-Crisis era, and a third rocket I don't recognize); a back-from-the-dead Jason Todd as he appeared in Judd Winick and Doug Mahnke's 'Under the Hood' arc from 2005; Batman holding Todd-as-Robin's lifeless body from the 1988 'A Death in the Family' arc; Robotman, Beast Boy and Elasti-Girl from John Byrne's continuity-busting 2004 revival of the Doom Patrol; Robotman, Rebis, Mister Nobody and The Quiz from Morrison's Doom Patrol; Robotman, The Chief, Negative Man and Elasti-Girl from the original Arnold Drake/Bruno Premiani Doom Patrol (over two shards); Lightning Lad, Saturn Girl and Cosmic Boy, the original three Legionaries as they appeared in their 1960's Adventure Comics run; Power Girl as she appeared in 1970's All-Star Comics; and finally Crazy Jane and Rebis (again) from Morrison's Doom Patrol (again).
Panel three references page #1 of 52 #52 from 2007, written by Morrison, Mark Waid, Geoff Johns and Greg Rucka and originally featuring art by Keith Giffen and Mike McKone. 52, a year-long weekly mini-series that followed hot on the heels of Infinite Crisis,was originally conceived (by Publisher Paul Levitz) as a Grand Tour of the revitalized post-Infinite Crisis DC universe over a 12 month period where Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman had retreated from the public eye. The huge gulf between what was asked for and what Morrison and pals eventually delivered probably accounts for the rumoured heavy editorial rewriting that later issues in the series suffered from. The finale of 52 would see the creation of a brand new, finite, DC Multiverse, out of the ashes of (though heavily indebted to) the old infinite model.
Featured here are Rip Hunter, Supernova (Booster Gold's ancestor Daniel Carter - he wasn't there in the original page from 52), Booster Gold and the head of the Red Tornado navigating Hunter's Time Sphere through the revitalized Multiverse newly (re)created by by the monstrous butterfly form of Shazam! villain Mister Mind, a sinister caterpillar from Venus.
Though it's likely the creation of a new DC Multiverse wasn't on the cards when 52 was first planned out, that's what we ended up with, and intentional or not, the germ of what would eventually become Multiversity begins here at the end of 52. The plan was that each of the series' writers would follow 52 with a book set on one of the new parallel Earths - Morrison would take Earth 10, where the Freedom Fighters were still battling a Nazi war-machine that had long since won World War 2, Waid would write a comic set on the Marvel Family's Earth 5, Johns would take the Golden Age and legacy heroes of Earth 2, and Rucka would handle the grim 'n' gritty Watchmen-esque Charlton world of Earth 4. This set-up is even trailed after a fashion in the final issue of 52, where each of those selected worlds is briefly glimpsed. Obviously that didn't pan out though and the task fell to Morrison to write an introduction to the 'new' Multiverse solo - a plan that would take another 6 years to come to fruition, largely due to Frank Quitely's difficulties in completing the art for Pax Americana while suffering from a chronic back injury. -
'Hypertime' was a framework developed by Grant Morrison, Mark Waid and Tom Peyer in the late 90's - largely ignored by DC management of the time - that essentially forms the backbone of the cosmology he's detailing here in the Guidebook. Under Hypertime, everything in every DC comic ever published 'happened' in the continuity, there's just a bunch of characters that don't remember it because their personal timeline has branched off from the original. The timelines can re-convene at any time though, hence something like the Club of Heroes or 'Robin Dies At Dawn' suddenly popping back into continuity during Morrison's Batman run. The concept would have been fully explained and explored in Morrison's proposed Hypercrisis crossover had it ever appeared. Proposed, rejected and subsequently abandoned when Morrison left DC for Marvel in 1999, the idea was re-submitted upon his return in 2003, but was rejected yet again by publisher Paul Levitz in favour of Brad Meltzer's Identity Crisis.
Finally, in panel 4 we see a scene of the Monitors overlooking the Orrery from Final Crisis #1 - adapted from the original by Grant Morrison and J.G. Jones - of the Monitors tending to the Orrery itself. The "fictions of Earth 33" would be these here DC comic books we've been reading for the last 75+ years.
You can read a bunch more stuff about Final Crisis here.
Page 23 - Another scene from Final Crisis #1 in panel one, this time its Nix's final farewell to Weeja Dell before his exile to Earth at the end of that issue, though the overlaid captions are talking about the end of Final Crisis, where all of the Monitors bar Nix cease to exist.
Panel two is a recreation of Andy Kubert's cover to 2011's Flashpoint #2, featuring an alternate-present Thomas Wayne as Batman kickstarting Barry Allen's Flash powers with the help of an electric chair. Flashpoint, DC's last (to date) comprehensive line-wide cosmic reset, would lead into DC's rebooted 'New 52' continuity, essentially the status-quo for almost all of their titles from 2011 until last year's DC Rebirth one-shot.
In panel three, we see the Empty Hand cradling the orrery at the dawn of creation.
Page 24-25 - The Map of the Multiverse. Jim Harbor already covered this one in some depth here, here and here.
Page 26 -The "latest issue of 'Lil Gotham" is the (real) issue #12 of that series by Dustin Nguyen and Derek Fridolfs, cover dated May 2014. The "Who's That Knocking At The Door? TRICK OR TREAT!" cover copy has been added onto the cover art for this panel and doesn't appear on the actual comic. Nor, unfortunately, is there a secret Multiverse tie-in within it's pages or any warnings about an approaching cosmic invader, or at least there isn't here on Earth 33...
Morrison used the Rubik's Cube to represent the New Gods Mother Box waaay back in Seven Soldiers, and again during Final Crisis. Is this the Four Stone that Batman is looking for?
"We thought it was just a comic book story. But it was a warning." Again, see Ultra Comics.
Page 27 - They're knocking at the door calls back to the Gentry's introduction in The Multiversity #1
"Tap my suits atomic battery... Here's your krakkin' power" is a reference to the starting the engines of the Batmobile - "Atomic Batteries to Power!" - from the 1966 Batman TV show.
And now, the meat of the Guidebook, a 34 page tour through all the worlds of the (current) DC Multiverse...
Page 28 - 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) took place on Earth 0.
Page 29 - Earth 1 - DC's standalone graphic novel line, currently consisting of three volumes of J. Michael Straczynski, Shane Davis and Aidan Syaf's Superman: Earth One, two volumes of Geoff Johns and Gary Frank's Batman: Earth One, two volumes of Jeff Lemire and Terry Dodson's Teen Titans: Earth One, and the initial volume of Grant Morrison and Yanick Paquette's proposed Wonder Woman: Earth One trilogy.
There seemed to initially be some confusion over whether the Earth One line should be included as part of the Multiverse - DC Executive Editor Dan Didio stated in a number of interviews that the books were meant to stand apart completely from DC's ongoing continuity and that they don't even share a common continuity between themselves; an impression shared by Jeff Lemire in an interview 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."
Morrison and Paquette's Wonder Woman book wasn't released until April 2016, over a year after the Guidebook was published, making this issue technically the Earth One Wonder Woman's first appearance.
Page 30 - 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 starred in a revival of the historically Superman and Batman-centric World's Finest title from 2012 to 2015.
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 possibly 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 in 2012's World's Finest #0 by Paul Levitz and Kevin Maguire 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, but no artist. She in turn is based on the original Hawkgirl, the long-time girlfriend/wife of the Golden Age Hawkman who first appeared in costume in 1941's All-Star Comics #5 in a story by Gardner F. Fox and Sheldon Moldoff. 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 Earth 2 versions 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 but losing the bug-eyes) by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely in the 2000 JLA: Earth 2 graphic novel. 2014's line-wide, Geoff Johns-steered Forever Evil event featured a New 52 Syndicate heavily informed by Morrison and Quitely's version. The lead-in to that tale - 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 go on to become a member of the Crime Syndicate, Grid is originally from Earth 0, not Earth 3.
Page 31 - 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.
More to come on Pax Americana... sometime.
Page 32 - 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's preference was apparently 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 mark 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.
Page 33 - 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, alongside a parade of all-star artistic collaborators, was 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, alongside his Futire Family teammate Golem (an analogue of The Thing). Next to Doc Future 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).
Curiously, Earth 7 also seems to be home to a couple of analogues of Dark Horse Comics' more popular properties - 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...".
In an interesting twist, Morrison takes credit in Supergods (backed up by various historical interview comments from Millar) for the idea of basing Marvel's Ultimate Thor character on conspiracy theorist and one-time self-professed Son of God, David Icke. Essentially, Morrison has the only survivor of this analogue Ultimate world be a version of the one and only Ultimate character that he created.
Page 34 - 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 to Hyperion from 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 sometime-Captain America sidekick 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.
Page 35 - 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 in 1956 when Quality went out of business, 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 Multiversity: Mastermen #1.
The New Reichsmen were almost certainly created by Grant Morrison either during or soon after 52, and 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 appeared on the originally solicited cover for The Multiversity #2 as part of the Cosmic Neighborhood Watch but didn't make the final cut); 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, who was 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, but the idea that they're intended to be the same character seems a bit of a stretch to be honest.
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 of 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. In pre-Crisis continuity, Doll Girl died on Earth X before the Freedom Fighters short-lived series began in 1976). All of them first appeared in the DC Universe in 1973's Justice League of America #107. Morrison's take on the Earth 10 heroes reframed them as representatives of minority groups persecuted by the Nazis - Black Condor is actually black, The Ray is gay, Phantom Lady is a Romany gyspy etc.
Page 36 - Earth 11 - A gender reversed Earth that first appeared in 2005's Superman/Batman #23 by Jeph Loeb and Ed McGuiness, but was probably heavily influenced by the various one-shot pre-Crisis stories featuring the same concept, like 'The Turnabout Trap' from 1980's Superman #349 by Marty Pasko and Curt Swan.
Pictured from left to right are Wondrous Man, the male equivalent to Wonder Woman (a different version of this character, Wonder Man, appeared as the antagonist in Countdown Presents: The Search for Ray Palmer: Superwoman/Batwoman #1 by Jimmy Palmiotti, Kalman Androsofszky, Jeremy Haun, David Hahn and David Baldeon); Aquawoman (who hadn't been seen prior to her appearance in The Multiversity #1); and Batwoman and Superwoman, both of whom closely resemble the characters originally seen in Loeb and McGuiness' Superman/Batman tale.
Mentioned but not seen are Earth 11's Flash, Jesse Quick (based on the character created by Len Strazewksi and Mike Parobeck in 1992's Justice Society of America #1, daughter of the Golden Age heroes Johnny Quick and Liberty Belle); this Earth's equivalent to Green Lantern, Star Sapphire (who actually first appeared opposing the Golden Age Flash in 1948's All-Flash #32 by Robert Kanigher and Lee Elias, but is better known from her second incarnation as the villainous alter ego of Hal Jordan's Silver Age girlfriend Carol Ferris - Ferris was first possessed by the Star Sapphire in 1962's Green Lantern #16 by John Broome and Gil Kane); Power Man, a gender reversed version of Power Girl (herself a Multiversal analogue to Superman's cousin Supergirl), who probably draws inspiration from sometime Teen Titan Power Boy, created by Geoff Johns and Tony Daniel in 2006's Teen Titans #38; and Zatara, a male analogue to Zatanna who again may well draw inspiration from a character from Johns and Daniel's Titans run - Zachary Zatara. Nephew of the original Zatara and cousin to Zatanna, Zachary first appeared in 2006's Teen Titans #34.
The icon for Earth 11 shows all of the landmasses upside down compared to how they would normally be depicted on a 'regular' globe.
Earth 12 - The setting for a bewildering array of Digital First comics featuring Batman Beyond and his Justice League compatriots, Earth 12 also figured heavily into the plot of the weekly The New 52: Future's End series in 2014-15. Batman Beyond first appeared in the cartoon of the same name in 1999 and was created by Paul Dini and Bruce Timm, who, alongside Alan Burnett, were responsible for a run of highly successful DC Universe cartoons in the 1990's and early 2000's. Though I don't think it's ever explicitly stated (a rights issue maybe?) Earth 12's history is heavily implied to encompass all of the cartoons that fall under the 'DC Animated Universe' umbrella (Batman: The Animated Series, Superman: The Animated Series, The New Batman Adventures, Static Shock, The Zeta Project, Justice League and Justice League Unlimited). Neither the Glen Murukami-created Teen Titans cartoon nor the various DC animated projects that followed the 2006 finale of the Justice League Unlimited are generally regarded as taking place in the same continuity as these series.
Though DC published a great deal of Batman Beyond tie-in comics prior to 2010 (and an alternate version of the character featured briefly in 2008's Countdown), Batman Beyond's first 'official' appearance as part of the mainstream DC Universe was in 2010's Batman #700, in a sequence by Grant Morrison and David Finch.
Pictured along the back row from left to right are Green Lantern Kai-Ro (named for Kairo - Hal Jordan's sidekick in the 1960's Filmation Green Lantern cartoon); Mareena, daughter of Aquaman, alias Aquagirl; and Micron, a future version of The Atom. All three were created by Alan Burnett and Paul Dini and first appeared in the 2000 Batman Beyond episode 'The Call (Part One)'.
In the middle row are Warhawk, son of Green Lantern John Stewart and Hawkgirl (who also first appeared in 'The Call'); and Danica Williams, Earth 12's Flash, who first appeared in 2013's Batman Beyond Unlimited #13 by Adam Beechen and Dustin Nguyen.
Down front, from left to right, are Superman, who technically first appeared in DCAU continuity in the 1996 premier episode of Superman: The Animated Series, 'The Last Son of Krypton (Part One)', though his 'Superman Beyond' revision seen here is the work of writer Paul Levitz and artist Renato Guedes and was first seen in 2010's Superman/Batman Annual #4; Terry McGinnis, the titular Batman Beyond; and Barda, one of Jack Kirby's New Gods of New Genesis, who was revealed as a member of this Earth's Justice League in that same Superman/Batman Annual story.
Like Earths 20 and 40, Earth 12 sits opposite a twisted and corrupt version of itself on the Multiverse map; in this case the totalitarian world of the Justice Lords of Earth 50.
Page 37 - Earth 13 - A "Vertigo Earth" populated by analogues of DC's magic-based characters, many of whom were previously co-opted into DC's Vertigo imprint when that line launched in 1993. Earth 13 appeared briefly in Morrison and Mahnke's Final Crisis: Superman Beyond 3D, and Morrison's own design sketch and character outline for Superdemon was included as part of the supplemental sketch book material in Final Crisis Secret Files.
It's likely that Earth 13 was conceived before all of the DC Universe characters that had previously been part of the "Vertigo Universe" returned to the DCU at the conclusion of Geoff Johns' Brightest Day in 2011. Many of the characters have gone on to become featured players in the New 52, a DC Universe much more comfortable with it's occult denizens than it had been for a dozen or more years previously.
Moses B. Cotsworth's International Fixed Calendar, concieved in 1902, proposed segregating the year into 13 months of 28 days, with the 2 superfluous days per year, named Leap Day and Year Day, falling outside the 'official' months. Sol, the proposed new 13th month, would fall between June and July. Cotsworth's model doesn't seem to be especially esoteric though and, unsurprisingly, the proposed reform never really caught on. Inexplicably it was adopted by the Eastman Kodak Company as their internal corporate calendar until as late as 1989.
The League of Shadows are, from left to right, Hellblazer (alias John Constantine, created by Alan Moore, Stephen R. Bissette and John Totleben in 1985's Saga of the Swamp Thing #37. The self-consciously ridiculous costume he's wearing comes from 1992's Doom Patrol #53, by Grant Morrison and Ken Steacy, where various magical DC characters were reimagined as super--heroes in a parody of the early Marvel Universe comics of Lee and Kirby); Annataz, Earth-13's version of the sorceress Zatanna (created by Gardner Fox and Murphy Anderson in 1964's Hawkman #4); Witchboy, an analogue of Jack Kirby's Klarion the Witch Boy who first appeared in 1973's The Demon #7, and would go on to become one of Grant Morrison's Seven Soldiers; Swamp-Man, a take on Len Wein and Bernie Wrightson's Swamp Thing, who first appeared in 1971's House of Secrets #92; Superdemon, this world's magical spin on Superman via Jack Kirby's Etrigan the Demon, who first appeared in 1972's The Demon #1; Fate, a grim 'n' gritty 90's take on Doctor Fate who first appeared in 1994's Fate #0 by John Francis Moore and Anthony Williams; Ragman, based on the character created by Joe Kubert and Robert Kanigher in 1976's Ragman #1; Deadman, based on the character created by Arnold Drake and Carmine Infantino in 1967's Strange Adventures #205; and The Enchantress, based on the go-go check ‘switcheroo-witcheroo’ created by Bob Haney and Howard Purcell in 1966's Strange Adventures #187.
Page 38 - Earth 14 - When asked about the mystery 'question mark' worlds on the Multiverse map, Morrison answered that he was deliberately leaving them blank so as to leave room for other writers to add to the cosmology he'd already authored. He can't resist getting something in there though - I wonder if the mysterious Monitor Magi have any connection to Seven Soldiers' Seven Unknown Men?
Rian Hughes specualted in this interview about the making of the map that Earth 14, with it's dual aspect, might be a 'feeder world' for the Multiverse, splitting off new universes when a prior one is destroyed, ala Earths 3 and 15. As one of Morrison's 'inner circle' of close collaborators, it's not difficult to imagine that he's basing this on some inside knowledge of Morrison's grand plan that we proles aren't yet aware of.
2017's Superman #15, the second part of the 'Multiplicity' storyline by Pete Tomasi, Ivan Reis and pals, featured the introduction of Earth 14's Justice League of Assasins, a post-Apocalyptic hybrid Suicide Squad/Justice League that counted analogues of Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Green Lantern, The Flash and Harley Quinn amongst it's members. In a depressing callback to the Countdown: Arena bad old days, all of the League except for Superman were killed in the same issue they debuted in.
Earth 15 - This was a bit of a surprise to everyone I think, confirmation that the Superboy Prime thread from the searingly bad Countdown series remains a concrete and significant part of Morrison's Multiversal cosmology - I honestly don't think even the most slavish fanboys would have begrudged an Earth-15 history that didn't reference Countdown at all to be honest.
The mysterious 'Cosmic Grail' mentioned in Earth-15's description might be the cracked Green Lantern power battery seen in the accompanying picture, presumably granted immeasurable symbolic power by virtue of being the last extant artifact of an obliterated universe - though if it is that robs the text of all of it's implied mystery. The Batman of Earth-17 mentions in the main story this issue that he's currently actively engaged in a search for the Grail in order to combat the looming threat of Darkseid.
Page 39 - Earth 16 - Earth Me, as seen in The Multiversity: The Just #1. From left to right we have Batman Damian Wayne (based on the character created by Grant Morrison an Andy Kubert in 2006's Batman #655); his beau Alexis Luthor, daughter of Lex, who first appeared in The Just #1; Chris Kent, son of Superman (based on the character created by Richard Donner, Geoff Johns and Adam Kubert in 2006's Action Comics #844); The Flash, alias Wally West (based on the original Kid Flash who first appeared in 1959's The Flash #110 by John Broome and Carmine Infantino and who took up his uncle's mantle as The Flash in 1986's Crisis on Infinite Earths #12); Green Lantern Kyle Rayner (created by Ron Marz and Daryl Banks in 1994's Green Lantern #48); Arrowette, daughter of Green Arrow Connor Hawke, who first appeared in The Just #1; Bloodwynd, created by Dan Jurgens in 1992's Justice League America #61; and Sasha Norman, alias Sister Miracle, who also first appeared in The Just #1.
Mentioned but not seen are Megamorpho, the daughter of Metamorpho who made her debut in The Just #1; and Offspring, son of Plastic Man, who first appeared in 1999's The Kingdom: Offspring #1 by Mark Waid and Frank Quitely.
You can read more about Earth 16 in The Just annotations here.
Page 40 - Earth 17 - One more of the (too many) post-apocalyptic Earths, Earth 17 is home to an updated (and DC Universe-fied) version of John Broome and Murphy Anderson's Atomic Knights, who first appeared in 1960's Strange Adventures #117. Like the Tangent Universe of Earth 9, it's departure point from the regular DC Universe comes as a result of a decidedly different outcome to the real-life Cuban Missile Crisis of 1963, though with much harsher consequences in this case. In the original Atomic Knights tales, the apocalyptic Hydrogen War happened in 1986 so I'm pretty surprised Morrison didn't decide to do something with the 1980's 'two minutes to midnight' doomsday paranoia that so informs Watchmen, *especially* given Earth 17's previous appearance under Morrison's pen (see below). Ah well...
From left to right across the back we have purple-suited Challengers of the Unknown Rocky Davis and Ace Morgan (both of whom first appeared in 1957's Showcase #7 by Dave Wood and Jack Kirby); Atomic Knight Wonder Woman and her atomically-mutated dog steed (possibly a call-back to her time as an Apokaliptian Female Fury in Final Crisis, though the original Atomic Knights also all rode around on giant irradiated dogs); and Atomic Knight J'onn J'onzz (based on the Justice Leaguer of long-standing created by Joe Samachson and Joe Certa in 1955's Detective Comics #225)
Down front is Captain Adam Strange, based on the classic DC sci-fi character created by Julius Schwartz and Murphy Anderson in 1958's Showcase #17. Strange's design also references Captain Atom (the silvery-blue skin) and various Japanese Super Sentai characters like Ultraman and Kamen Rider (some of whom touch their belt buckle to transform like Strange is doing here). Next to the Captain is Earth 17's Batman-as-Dredd, who first appeared in this issue's main story and, as per the 1:100 variant for this issue, was designed by Grant Morrison.
The art on this page is really horrible. There was an article on Bleeding Cool just after Christmas 2014 intimating that the Guidebook was running pretty late production-wise (though in the end it only slipped a week from it's originally solicited ship date). You have to imagine that they were really up against the wall when they let this one through.
In Morrison's 'Crisis 2' storyline from the end of his Animal Man run, Earth 17 was home to the maniacal Overman, a genetically engineered Superman analogue driven mad by venereal disease who detonates a doomsday bomb that destroys the world. The 'Earth 17' designation didn't appear in the story but was used by Morrison in a brief interview for the March 1990 Amazing Heroes Preview Special, where he described it as "an Alan Moore-written world full of people having to suffer from the horrible burden of super powers." The Earth 17 designation was also used previously in Mark Waid's pre-Crisis parallel Earth survey from Absolute Crisis on Infinite Earths for all non-Kirby New Gods tales, specifically Gerry Conway's New Gods and Return of the New Gods series from the late 1970's.
The Atomic Knights of Earth 17 - Wonder Woman, Batman, the Martian Manhunter and versions of Green Lantern and Green Arrow that don't appear here in the Guidebook - feature on Cliff Chiang's 1:25 variant cover for Thunderworld, battling a post-apocalyptic take on Doctor Light in a homage to Murphy Anderson's Justice League of America #12 cover from 1962.
Page 41 - Earth 18 - Home of the Justice Riders, a wild west take on the Justice League of America who share their name with the rough riders first seen in an eponymous 1997 Elseworlds one-shot by Chuck Dixon and J.H. Williams III. The only member of those Riders who's amongst the Earth 18 residents we see here is Marshall Diana Prince, based on Wonder Woman and now called Madame .44.
The current members of the Justice Riders are primarily heroes from DC's various Western comics: from left to right we have Bat Lash (a gambler and charming rogue in the Maverick mold, created by Joe Orlando, Carmine Infantino, Sheldon Mayer and Sergio Aragones in 1968's Showcase #76); Madame .44, visually modeled on Williams' Elseworlds Wonder Woman but named for the character created by Gardner Fox and Gil Kane in 1961's All-Star Western #117; Strong Bow (created by Dave Wood and Frank Giacoia in 1951's All-Star Western #58. Though he made it into Who's Who and the Wolfman/Perez History of the DC Universe, Strong Bow hasn't appeared in a sequential DC story since 1970's Tomahawk #131, apart from a (very) brief ensemble turn in 1985's All-Star Squadron #55 ); the ghostly El Diablo (based on the character created by Robert Kanigher and Gray Morrow in 1970's All-Star Western v2 #2, but likely heavily informed by the more supernatural takes of both Brian Azarello and Danijel Zezelj's 2001 Vertigo mini-series and the character as he appears in Jai Nitz and Phil Hester's El Diablo series from 2008); Super Chief, alias Saganowhana (who first appeared in 1952's All-Star Western #68 by Gardner Fox and Carmine Infantino and was planned as a recurring character in the Morrison-penned sections of the 2006 52 weekly series, though he actually only appeared in a handful of issues due to space constraints. I wonder if his amulet, forged from a mystical meteor, is a multiversal counterpart to the meteor that gave eternal life to the Immortal Man and Vandal Savage?); and finally on the far right Cinnamon, a female gun-for-hire created by Roger Mackenzie and Jack Abel in 1978's Weird Western Tales #48. Cinnamon would later be revealed as one of Hawkgirl's previous reincarnations in 2002's Hawkman #7 by James Robinson and Rags Morales.
Mentioned but not pictured here are the Trigger Twins, this world's twin versions of the Flash, who can be seen in full cowboy regalia in the Flashes group shot on page 21. The original super-powerless Twins were created by Robert Kanigher and Carmine Infantino in 1951's All-Star Western #58; Firehair (created by Joe Kubert with a helping hand from editor Carmine Infantino in 1969's Showcase #85); Tomahawkman (who might be the Native American Hawkman seen in Dixon and Williams' Elseworlds book, or may be a take on Tomahawk - a frontiersman active during the Revolutionary War and by far one of DC's most popular Western heroes - created by Joe Samachson and Edmund Good in 1947's Star-Spangled Comics #58); Johnny Thunder (confirmed by Morrison during one interview as this Earth's version of Captain Marvel/Shazam, the original western Johnny Thunder (as opposed to his superheroic namesake) first appeared in 1948's All-American Comics #100 in a story by Robert Kanigher and Alex Toth); and Pow-Wow Smith (created by Don Cameron and Carmine Infantino in 1949's Detective Comics #151).
I love the idea of the 'telegraph internet', and it's refreshing that Earth 18 - despite it's Wild West trappings - is vibrating firmly in the present rather than the distant past or a post-apocalyptic future. I can't help but wonder if this universe's Time Trapper has a bushy beard and wears a Davy Crockett-style 'coonskin cap...
Earth 19 - DC's first official 'Elseworld', Earth 19-to-be first appeared in Brian Augustyn and Mike Mignola's 1989 Gotham By Gaslight graphic novel, a tale of Batman tackling Jack The Ripper in the historic Gotham City of the 1890's. Earth 19's Batman as seen here sticks closely to Mignola's original design. The Acclerated Man and The Shrinking Man (this world's versions of The Flash and The Atom) haven't appeared before this issue. The Wonder Woman is from another Elseworlds book - set in the same Victorian time period as Gotham By Gaslight but not originally intended to follow the same continuity - 1997's Wonder Woman: Amazonia by William Messner-Loebs and Phil Winslade. The description for Earth 19 suggests that time has moved forward slightly into the early 20th Century, but is still some way behind the present day.
Previously a resident of Earth 34, the Amazonia Wonder Woman is one of the very few characters to lose their Earth entirely between 2008's Countdown: Arena and 2014's The Multiversity - other notable members of this club include Earth 31's Superman from Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns - we'll get to that later - and the WIldstorm characters from Earth 50.
The late 19th/early 20th Century was a popular setting for the Elseworlds books - Adisakdi Tantimedh and P. Craig Russell's JLA: Age of Wonder, Jen Van Meter, Cliff Chiang and Tommy Lee Edward's Batman: The Golden Streets of Gotham, Howard Chaykin, David Tischman and Marshall Rogers' Green Lantern: Evil's Might, and Chaykin's Batman & Houdini: The Devil's Workshop with Mark Chiarello were all set in a similar milieu to that laid out for Earth 19, but it doesn't look like any of the featured characters from those stories have made it into the Guidebook.
The icon for Earth 19 looks like it's based on this drawing of a Victorian globe (with the ornate bottom part doubled so it encircles the whole globe), originally from an 1860's catalogue.
Page 42 - Earth 20 - Home of the Society of Super-Heroes, as seen in the pages of The Multiversity: Society of Super-Heroes: Conquerors of Counter Earth #1.
From left to right we have Green Lantern Abin Sur (based on the character who first appeared - and died - in 1959's Showcase #22 by John Broome and Gil Kane); The Mighty Atom (based on the Golden Age Atom created by Ben Flinton and Bill O'Conner in 1940's All-American Comics #19); Doc Fate (based on the Golden Age hero Doctor Fate, created by Gardner Fox and Howard Sherman in 1940's More Fun Comics #55, via pulp adventurer Doc Savage, created by Lester Dent in 1933); The Immortal Man (based on Marv Wolfman's 'Forgotten Heroes' version of the character who first appeared in 1965's Strange Adventures #177); and Lady Blackhawk, this version of which first appeared in The Multiversity one-shot, based on the (male) character created in 1941 by Chuck Cuidera, Will Eisner and Bob Powell in Quality Comics' Military Comics #1.
The Earth 20 icon looks like it's been taken from somewhere, probably a pulp magazine cover, though I haven't found the original... yet.
You can read more about Earth 20 in the annotations for The Society of Super-Heroes here.
Page 43 - Earth 21 -The Silver Age world first seen in Darwyn Cooke's 2004 series The New Frontier (released around the time DC stopped using the Elseworlds branding so not 'officially' identified as such when it was first published).Page 44 - Earth 22 - The world of Alex Ross and Mark Waid's Kingdom Come, an Elseworlds vision of the future of the DC Universe first seen in 1996's Kingdom Come #1.
Cooke's series concluded with John F. Kennedy's presidential acceptance speech, delivered at the 1960 Democratic National Convention, and the formation of the Justice League (from that same year's Brave and the Bold #28). Morrison's brief world outline moves the story on past Kennedy's assassination in 1963, presumably foiled on this Earth by the intervention of the super-heroes.
Cooke's New Frontier heroes differ only marginally from their mainstream DC Universe counterparts - the main point of difference being that they are active fom the late 50's onwards, the time many of their comics were originally published. From left to right is Green Lantern Hal Jordan, police scientist Barry Allen, alias The Flash, Wonder Woman, John Henry (based on John Henry Irons, alias Steel, who unlike the rest of these characters wasn't created until the 1990's - Cooke's version draws heavily on the American folk tale of John Henry and not at all on Marvel's Iron Man), and J'onn J'onzz, the Martian Manhunter.As per Darwyn Cooke's notes in the Absolute version of The New Frontier, the Captain Cold of Earth 21, who appeared in The New Frontier #2, was visually based on Grant Morrison himself.
In the front row, from left to right, are Earth 22's counterparts to The Flash, Wonder Woman, Superman (who would later travel to the mainline DC Universe during Geoff Johns interminable 'Thy Kingdom Come' storyline beginning in issue #9 of the 2006 Justice Society of America series and probably still going on whenever you're reading this), Green Lantern (based on the Golden Age Green Lantern Alan Scott, supposedly because Waid and Ross were forbidden by editorial from using the then-dead Hal Jordan and Ross refused to use his replacement Kyle Rayner as he hates the character) and, on the far right, Power Girl.
Second row from left to right are Starman (a time-lost take on the Legion of Super Heroes' Starboy created by Otto Binder and George Papp in 1961's Adventure Comics #282), Deadman, Red Robin (who appeared in Kingdom Come with this name and outfit a good ten years before Tim Drake adopted it in the mainline DCU) and Batman.
Back row we have Atom Smasher (a grown up version of Infinity Inc.'s teenage hero Nuklon, created by Roy Thomas, Jerry Ordway and Mike Machlan in 1983's All-Star Squadron #25, another hero who eventually adopted the costume and name he'd been given in Waid and Ross's series in the regular continuity), Atlas (a one-shot Jack Kirby creation from 1975's First Issue Special #1, he appeared briefly in a one-panel cameo in Kingdom Come before James Robinson re-introduced him as an antagonist for Superman in 2008's Superman #677), and finally, one of Batman's robot drones.
The Kingdom Come Earth first received it's Earth 22 designation and recognition as one of DC's official parallel Earths in the closing pages of the weekly 52 series in 2007.
Assuming that Alex Ross and Jim Kreuger's 2007 Superfriends fanfic tale Justice was also intended to take place in the 'present' of Kingdom Come Earth, this world - like Earth 21 - also has a super-villainous Grant Morrison analogue in Brainiac. You can see some of Ross's heavily Morrison-referenced sketches for the character here.
Page 45 - Earth 23 - First seen in the pages of Final Crisis #7 by Grant Morrison and Doug Mahnke, Earth 23 also featured in Morrison and Gene Ha's Action Comics #9 in 2012 and in the first bookend issue of The Multiversity. Home to Kal-L, alias Calvin Ellis, alternately the President of the USA and Superman, this Earth's heroes are predominantly black, inspired by the example set by a black Superman.
From left to right along the back row are Superman; Nubia, Earth 23's Wonder Woman, who also debuted in Final Crisis but was likely inspired by a character created by Robert Kanigher and Don Heck in 1973's Wonder Woman #204; Green Lantern John Stewart, created by Denny O'Neil and Neal Adams in 1972's Green Lantern #87; Batman, the token white guy in this Earth's Justice League (likely a joke at the expense of the tokenism apparent in the mainline DCU Justice League, where there's rarely (never?) been more than one black member at any given time); and Steel.
Down front is Vixen, created by Gerry Conway and Bob Oksner in 1978 for an ill-fated and unpublished solo series that fell victim to the DC Implosion (the first issue would eventually see publication in Cancelled Comics Cavalcade - effectively a limited-run bound collection of photocopies 'published' in order to secure copyright). Vixen finally made her debut proper three years later in 1981's Action Comics #521 and went on to be a long-standing member of the Suicide Squad and, for two separate lengthy stretches, the Justice League of America.
Mentioned but not seen here are Mister Miracle - originally one of Jack Kirby's New Gods, the Earth 23 version is likely based on Morrison's own take on the character from the 2007 Seven Soldiers: Mister Miracle mini-series; Black Lightning, DC's first headline black superhero, created by Tony Isabella and Trevor Von Eeden in 1977's Black Lightning #1; and Amazing Man, Roy Thomas and Jerry Ordway's World War II-era take on a super-Jesse Owens, who debuted in 1983's All-Star Squadron #23 and would go on to become a mainstay of that team throughout the 1980's.
Though I'm sure Steel being mentioned twice in the Earth description is a typo, it is a bit of an inadvertent damning critique of the depth of DC's roster when it comes to heroes of colour.
Page 46 - Earth 24 - The second of seven mystery Earths.
Some speculated that these Earths were left blank so as to house the remnants of what would be left of DC's previous timelines in the wake of the truly awful Convergence mini-series. It's fair to say I thought that idea sounded pretty disappointing at the time and I'm really glad it didn't happen, but I'm coming to accept that I'll find it disappointing no matter what they fill these Earths with seeing as how Morrison won't be the one deciding.
Earth 25 - The third of seven mystery Earths.
Earth 26 - The home of Captain Carrot and his funny animal compadres, first seen in a special preview insert in New Teen Titans #16 in 1982 by Roy Thomas and Scott Shaw!, and then in their own series, Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew!, which ran for 20 issues through to the end of 1983. Earth 26 (also known as Earth C pre-Crisis on Infinite Earths), was apparently destroyed at the end of the 2008 mini-series Captain Carrot and the Final Ark by Bill Morrison, Scott Shaw and Phil Winslade, though as we learn here it's bounced back into ship-shape thanks to cartoon physics, with a planet-sized band-aid to mark its previous trauma (though the band-aid seems to have been a late addition - it's not on the original Channel 52 map).
The heroes of Earth 26 are, from left to right, Fastback, a turtle with super-speed powers; American Eagle, created by Geoff Johns and Scott Shaw in 2006's Teen Titans v3 #30; Rubberduck, the Malleable Mallard; Alley-Kat-Abra, who was exposed as a mouse-murderer in Johns' Teen Titans story (it turned out to be her evil twin, Dark Alley); Pig Iron, the superheroic alter-ego of Peter Porkchops, one of DC's Golden Age funny animal characters who first appeared in 1947's Leading Comics #23; Yankee Poodle, whose look, according to the DC Wikia at least, inspired Geoff Johns' design for Stargirl's costume; Little Cheese, a size-changing mouse who first appeared in a strip by Scott Shaw in 1983's Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew! #12 and was the unfortunate victim in the Alley-Kat-Abra mouse murder debacle; and finally the good Captain himself, alias Rodney (originally Roger) Rabbit. All of the Zoo Crew except American Eagle and Little Cheese first appeared in the preview strip in New Teen Titans #16 by Thomas and Shaw.After Earth 26 was presumed destroyed, the Zoo Crew ended up on the mainline DC Earth, devolved into regular animals with no superpowers. This frankly depressing state of affairs was course-corrected by Grant Morrison in the last issue of Final Crisis, when, as part of the multiversal cavalry summoned to tackle Mandrakk at the series conclusion, Nix Uotan restored the Zoo Crew to their rightful majesty.
Captain Carrot and a bunch of Earth 26 ne'er do wells (Fat Cat, Doctor Hector Frankenswine and The Amazing Hairy Gnudini) feature on Chris Burnham's variant cover for The Multiversity #1, a homage to Joe Shuster's iconic Action Comics #1.
Page 47 - Earth 27 - The fourth of seven mystery Earths.
Earth 28 - The fifth of seven mystery Earths. On the map included with the 'Director's Cut' version of Pax Americana (and on the board cover map beneath the dust jacket of the hardcover), there's a very faint electron ring around Earth 28. It's not present on any of the maps distributed prior to the special edition of Pax, which came out weeks after the series proper had finished.
Earth 29 - Bizarro World, alias Htrae, first appeared in 1960's Action Comics #263 by Otto Binder and Wayne Boring. Originally created by Bizarro himself using the same Duplicator Ray that had brought him into existence, Bizzaro World housed imperfect duplicates of the whole of Superman's supporting cast and, eventually, similarly cracked takes on a cavalcade of DC heroes and villains too.
From left to right are Bizarro versions of Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, Superman, The Flash, Batman and the Martian Manhunter (on this Earth a Sramian Snitch). Mentioned but not seen are Bizarro duplicates of Rann's Adam Strange, Thanagar's Hawkman and Oa's Guardians of the Universe.Morrison's own take on Bizarro World was featured in two issues of All-Star Superman back in 2008. For a brief time in the early 00's, DC managed to get some really great alt-comix creators on board to do stories under the Bizarro Comics banner, but sadly those days now seem to have long passed. I'd massively recommend Tom Peyer and Kevin O'Neill's Bizarro World story from the 1998 Adventure Comics 80-Page Giant, never reprinted but conveniently scanned and uploaded onto these here internets for your reading pleasure.
Page 48 - Earth 30 - Originally seen in the 2003 Elseworlds series Superman: Red Son by Mark Millar, Dave Johnson and Killian Plunkett, questions have long been asked over how much of Earth 30 can be attributed to Morrison himself given his position as Millar's writing guru when it was written in the late 90's, and the distinctly un-Millar like tone of much of the plot.
For my money I'd guess that Morrison's involvement in Red Son was significant both in the plotting and to a lesser degree in the scripting (Millar has publicly conceded in the past that the series finale was indeed written by Morrison, but I'd hazard a guess that much of the caption work was at the very least Morrison-inspired as well). The final product does, in many places, bear many unmistakably ham-handed hallmarks of a pre-Authority Millar though, so at best it's probably an uncredited collaboration rather than an outright case of ghost writing. Whichever way, Red Son is undoubtedly well worth a read, which isn't a recommendation you'll hear from me on many of Millar's solo credits...Pictured here from left to right we have Earth 30's version of The Flash (who didn't appear in Red Son and makes his debut here); Brainiac (with a look that heavily draws upon Ed Hannigan's 1980's design); Batman (who's characterisation on this world owes a great deal to Alan Moore's V for Vendetta); Superman; Bizarro; Wonder Woman and Green Lantern Hal Jordan. All bar the Flash first appeared in the Red Son series. Red Son Superman would go on to appear in the execrable Countdown: Arena mini-series from 2008 and the even worse Convergence series in 2015.
Page 49 - Earth 31 - Originally seen in Frank Miller's 1986 Dark Knight Returns, Earth 31 is the libertarian fascist-porno setting for much of Miller's DC output, from All Star Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder to...
Oh, hang on a minute. Looks like Miller's DKR world (probably with art by frequent Frank the Tank collaborator Klaus Janson, who was prominently featured in the solicit for this issue but doesn't feature in it) got pulled at the last minute. Maybe something to do with DC getting Miller back on board for Dark Knight III? Frank's previous comments on the shared continuity of super hero universes - "Continuity is the hobgoblin of small minds" - would suggest he's probably not much of a fan of this sort of endeavour, though Keith Champagne did manage to sneakily include Dark Knight Returns Superman in Countdown: Arena back in 2007. The world icon for Earth 31 (which was indeed Dark Knight Returns Earth in Arena, though only ever "unofficially" - it wasn't featured in the Countdown: Arena scorecard) sure looks like it's covered in 'Frank Miller-style scratchy lines' that Morrison mentioned back when the map was unveiled at Comic Con too. But we'll have no more of that now. You'll just have to think of something else...
Captain Leatherwing and his swarthy compatriots first appeared in 1994's Detective Comics Annual #7 by Chuck Dixon and Enrique Alcatena. part of that year's Elseworlds-themed Annual event. Initially I thought this apparently minor Elseworld might have gotten the nod to replace DKR over something more substantial by virtue of Chuck Dixon's herculean efforts during Morrison's DC One Million event in 1998. Dixon wrote 4 of the tie-ins - Detective Comics, Nightwing, Robin and Green Arrow - all of which appeared in the same month. Dixon's long tenure at DC in the 90's also placed him high in the Premier League of most prolific scripters at the company - at one point only Robert Kanigher had more scripted pages for DC to his name. Consequently his Batman efforts are referenced often during Morrison's run, most obviously when the League of Assassins pop up in the second volume of Batman Incorporated - probably 75% of the assassins featured are Dixon creations or co-creations.
However, what I'd failed to take into account was artist Alcatena, who not only co-created (with Dixon) Argentinian heroes Cimarron and the Super Malon and re-introduced the Gaucho in 2000's Flash Annual #13 (all of whom featured in Morrison's Batman Incorporated), but also drew four of Morrison's Starblazer digest strips for DC Thompson way back in the early 1980's - the first of Morrison's pro-work that he didn't draw himself. From Alcatena's website -
Though I was allowed great artistic freedom, the drawback was that the stories were published without credits, which was quite common in olden days. Thus it was that it was only many years afterwards that I learnt that I had worked with great writers like Mike Chinn, Martin Gately and a very young Grant Morrison before he became world-famous (his run on Doom Patrol and the impressive Invisibles remain some of my all-time favourites), and others who unfortunately I don’t recall. I have a special attachment for the work I did for Thomson, as it enabled me to develop as a fantasy illustrator.
I think I'd much prefer to regard Captain Leatherwing's inclusion as a hat-tip in kind to Alcatena rather than as a desperate editorial scramble to replace Earth Miller when the powers that be decided it was off-limits.
Capitana Felina (alias Contessa Maria Conseula Esperanza Fortuna Domingo DeSantis, this Earth's version of Catwoman) and Captain Leatherwing are front and centre and the only Earth 31 residents shown here who appeared in the original Leatherwing story (alongside Robin Redblade, who's mentioned but doesn't appear here - he does feature on Aaron Kuder's Earth 31 variant cover for Mastermen though in a homage to George Perez's classic 1980 New Teen Titans #1 cover).
Though Dixon and Alcatena's Leatherwing tale is obviously the main inspiration here, I think the post-Apocalyptic tone of the description is meant to suggest the far-future 'Dead Earth' setting first seen in a couple of the 1994 Elseworlds annuals and later expanded upon in the 'Legends of the Dead Earth' series that ran across all of the DC annuals in 1996. Also, Earth 31's Superman at far left looks to be a similar character as the one seen in Action Comics Annual #6 by John Byrne, an Elseworlds tale set during the American Revolutionary War with Superman on the side of the British.
The Green Lantern analogue next to Superman looks familiar but I can't quite place him. He could be inspired by Doug Moench and Paul Gulacy's 2001 Elseworlds mini, Green Lantern: Dragon Lord, where a monk in 7th century feudal China gains the power of the Green Lantern, but really there's very little visually in common between the two - he kind of has the young Buddhist monk look of Aang from Avatar: The Last Airbender. Next to Green Lantern is a steampunk pirate take on Cyborg, who I'm pretty sure is a new character. He also appears on Kuder's Mastermen cover alongside Robin Redblade. Similarly, I don't think that viking Aquaman next to him has appeared anywhere prior to this either, which is surprising as potentially that's a great take on the character (the Viking King anyone?). Finally, pirate Wonder Woman on the far right also looks familiar, but yet again I couldn't tell you where from. If by some cruel quirk of fate anyone out there has actually read all of the 1994 Elseworlds annuals or all (any?) of 'Legends of the Dead Earth' and some of these guys are from there, please do let me know.
Update: In a raft of interviews conducted to mark the release of the Multiversity hardcover, Grant Morrison confirmed that the change in setting for Earth 31 was indeed a last minute editorial decision made at Frank Miller's request.
Earth 32 - An Earth of mash-up superheroes loosely based on Mike W. Barr and Jerry Bingham's Batman: In Darkest Night Elseworlds one-shot from 1994. In that book most of Earth's heroes ended up joining Bruce Wayne as Green Lanterns, but here they've all been smooshed together with one of their Justice League compatriots. Black Arrow is Green Arrow/Black Canary, Wonderhawk is Wonder Woman/Hawkgirl, Aquaflash is Aquaman/The Flash and Super-Martian is Superman/the Martian Manhunter.
All of the Earth 32 characters bar Bat-Lantern (who looks identical to his In Darkest Night predecessor) make their debut here, created by Morrison with costumes designed by artist Todd Nauck.
The Earth 32 icon is actually a picture of the moon, with the normally barren lunar seas and oceans filled with water.
Page 50 - Earth 33 - "Our" Earth, originally called Earth Prime in the pre-Crisis on Infinite Earths DC Universe, was first seen inside the pages of a DC Comic in 1968's The Flash #179 by Cary Bates and Ross Andru. Numerous DC heroes would pay a visit over the years, often interacting with real-life DC staffers, most often editor Julius Schwartz. In an interview given about Seven Soldiers, Morrison named the Seven Unknown Men of Slaughter Swamp as the various DC writers and artists like Schwartz who'd appeared as characters within the comics themselves (including himself, thanks to his star-turn in the last issue of Animal Man).
Earth Prime got its own super-hero, Ultraa, in 1978's Justice League of America #153 by Gerry Conway and George Tuska, though the Justice League eventually unilaterally decided that we 'weren't ready' for our own super-folks and whisked Ultraa away to imprison him back on Earth-1. The powers-that-be decided that Earth Prime, like many of DC's more outre concepts from the Golden and Silver Ages, was a step too far for the Post-Crisis DC Comics Aren't Just For Kids Universe and erased Earth Prime from the continuity. Ultraa himself suffered a particularly ignominious fate, killed off in the biography section of his Who's Who entry. He wasn't seen again until Kevin Dooley and Greg LaRocque rebooted him as an alien beefcake love-rival for Superman in the pages of 1993's Justice League Quarterly #13. Both versions appear in the Multiversity Ultra Comics one-shot.
Geoff Johns would later bring back an obscure one-shot Earth Prime version of Superboy - who first appeared in 'The Last Earth Prime Story' by Eliot S. Maggin and Curt Swan from 1985's DC Comics Presents #87 and featured briefly in the back end of Crisis on Infinite Earths itself - in 2005's line-wide Infinite Crisis crossover. Superboy Prime (or Superman Prime as he was swiftly renamed following complications over the ownership of Superboy arising from a lawsuit against DC by Jerry Seigel's family) was reframed as an entitled brat who wanted to remake the DC Universe exactly how he thought it should be and damn the consquences - a weak-sauce satire based on Johns' unflattering perception of certain elements of comics fandom. The character rapidly escalated from whiny annoyance to universe-obliterating maniac over the next year or so, destroying the Earth 15 universe in the pages of Countdown to Final Crisis (a plot point almost unbelievably referenced as still in-canon in this issue's entry for that Earth) before returning in various Johns' comics over the next few years, including 2008's Final Crisis: Legion of Three Worlds and Blackest Night. He was finally imprisoned within the Source Wall in 2011's Teen Titans v3 #100 by J.T. Krul and Nicola Scott, released the month before DC's New 52 relaunch.
It looks like the icon for this Earth might be a photograph, which is only fitting I suppose.
Page 51 - Earth 34 - Earth 34 is a pastiche of Kurt Busiek, Alex Ross and Brent Anderson's Astro City, the long-running creator owned series first seen in 1995's Astro City #1, published by Image Comics. The series would later move to Wildstorm (originally a part of Image but bought by DC in 1999) and is currently published by DC's Vertigo imprint. Like a number of the Earths in the Guidebook, Astro City in many ways started life as a pastiche of the Silver Age DC and Marvel Universes.
In The Just, Batman notes that one of Offspring's comics was published by 'Spire Comics out of Cosmoville', a city that doesn't exist on Earth 16. Cosmoville is a pretty obvious allusion to Astro City (though to be fair to us jobbing annotators, nobody suspected there would be an Astro City Earth at that point) but I'm still not sure what Spire Comics is supposed to be referencing - it seems like it would be a better fit for the T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents pastiche Earth 39, given their original publisher was Tower Comics?
The Light Brigade as this Earth's Justice League plays on the name of the premier super-group in the Astro City universe, the Honor Guard. From left to right the Light Brigade are Mister Motley, an analogue of Astro City's clown themed vigilante Jack-in-the-Box; Ghostman, a version of the ghostly Hanged Man; Cutie, analogous to the android crimefighter Beautie; Radman... I got nuthin', let me know if you do; front and centre is Savior, an analogue of Astro City's Samaritan (who himself is analogous to Superman); behind him is Goodfellow, a version of The Gentleman, a kind of be-suited Hulk figure; Herculina is Earth 34's take on Astro City's Winged Victory and obviously a Wonder Woman stand-in; Stingray, the Batman of Earth 16, isn't based on an Astro City character and in fact first appeared (in one panel) in a short What If?-style tale from 1974's Batman #256 by Marty Pasko and Pat Broderick; and finally on the far right, this Earth's version of the Flash, Formula-1, is based on Astro City's M.P.H., the Acceleration Ace.
All of the Astro City originals were created by Kurt Busiek, Brent Anderson and Alex Ross. The Earth 34 characters are all Grant Morrison and Jeff Johnson "originals", and make their debut here.
On the 2007 Countdown: Arena scorecard, Earth 34 was the setting for the Wonder Woman Elseworlds tale Amazonia (now integrated with the Gotham by Gaslight Victorian-era Earth 19), one of only two Earths (along with the Wildstorm Earth 50) that changed in the 7 years between the publication of the original listing and the 2014 release of The Multiversity.
Earth 35 - Like Earth 34, Earth 35 is explicitly based on characters owned by another comic company (in this case Rob Liefeld's, whatever it's called this week) that themselves drew heavily for inspiration on their DC Universe counterparts. In this case it's the universe of Image Comics' Supreme; or very specifically the Silver Age Superman pastiche comics of Alan Moore's run on the title from 1996 to 1998.
Moore's Supreme was itself a very self-reflexive, 'meta' work so the convoluted description that marks this universe out as significantly different amongst the others seems fitting.
The Justice League analogue in Moore's comics were the Allied Supermen of America; here they become the Super-Americans. From left to right they are Starcop, this universe's version of the Martian Manhunter, who (I think) is represented in Moore's run by a guy called Spacehunter; Mercury-Man, this Earth's Flash and the equivalent to Supreme's original Doc Rocket; Miss X, who look like she might be analogous to the Allied Supermen's Alley Cat; Morphin' Man, who I think corresponds to Polyman, a Plastic Man-type hero; Majesty - Queen of Venus, who looks pretty much exactly like Supreme's half-Amazon half-demon princess Glory; and Olympian, who I think is supposed to correspond to Shaft from Youngblood (himself a thinly disguised version of DC's Speedy) - weirdly if he *is* supposed to be Shaft then that means there are two separate stand-ins for this sub-par Rob Liefeld character on two separate Earths, as there's another one on Earth 41.
Next to Olympian is Supremo/Supreme himself, who made his first very brief appearance as part of the Multiversal Superman Army in the last issue of Final Crisis, back in 2008. Finally, next to him is The Owl, who manages to be both another character from Pasko and Broderick's 'If Bruce Wayne Had Not Become the Batman' strip from Batman #256 (like Stingray from Earth 34), *and* a pretty on the nose stand in for Moore's own Batman analogue from his Supreme run, Professor Night. Bravo sir.
Rob Liefeld contends that Moore's ABC Comics line (Tom Strong, Promethea, Top Ten and the associated one-shots and anthologies) drew heavily on script materials originally intended for the Supreme-verse titles before Moore left Liefeld's employ in 1999. Maybe that goes some way to explaining why ABC (which is owned outright by DC Comics thanks to their 1999 buy-out of Wildstorm) doesn't appear here as part of the Multiverse, though given the strained (to say the least) relationship between Moore and Morrison there may well be other reasons involved...
Supreme, Glory and Shaft were created by Rob Liefeld. The rest of the Allied Supermen of America were created by Alan Moore and artist Joe Bennett. The Earth 35 versions were all 'created' by Grant Morrison, Camunc Ii "& Friend" (?) and make their first (and likely last for the most part) appearance here.
Note the Liefeld-esque speed-lines on the Earth 35 icon. I had a look to see if this drawing of the Earth was from an actual Liefeld comic (like the Wally Wood Earth 39 icon is), without any success. Turns out a Rob Liefeld drawing with an actual background (as opposed to a solid block colour or a bit of Photoshop) is a rare beast indeed...
Page 52 - Earth 36 - The last of three "analogues of DC analogues" worlds in a row, Earth 36's Justice 9 owe a heavy debt to Big Bang Comics' Justice League-inspired team The Round Table of America. The Big Bang universe, an outlet for Gary Carlson, Chris Ecker and friends' tales of superfolk inspired by superhero comics of the Golden and Silver Ages, debuted as a mini-series from Caliber Comics in 1994 before moving to Image (where it's 35 issue run featured a crossover with Alan Moore and friends' 1963 universe) and finally to it's own self-published imprint in the 2010's.
I'm pretty sure I've read a Morrison pull-quote for Big Bang Comics though I can't find any trace of it now, maybe on one of their trades? Whatever, it's abundantly clear that Big Bang were the inspiration here - the artist, Evan 'Doc' Shaner mentioned on Tumblr when the issue was released that the notes he was given from Morrison confirmed as much. I haven't seen that anyone's solicited an opinion from Gary Carlson on Morrison's hat-tip here, though I'd imagine that, like Kurt Busiek and Savage Dragon creator Erik Larson, he'd be understandably much happier with them remaining a one-panel gag than if they were spun out into their own book.
From left to right we have Green Lantern analogue Flashlight, a nod to Big Bang's The Beacon (though obviously based on Hal Jordan, the Silver Age Green Lantern, rather than The Beacon's more Golden Age inspired look); Cyberion, a (female?) version of Cyborg referencing Big Bang's She-Borg; War-Woman, this Earth's Wonder Woman equivalent and counterpart to Big Bang's Venus; Mer-Man, the Aquaman of Earth 36, a take on Big Bang's The Human Sub (later The Atomic Sub); front and centre is Optiman, who also appeared in Final Crisis: Superman Beyond as part of the Multiversal Superman Army, and was mentioned (alongside Flashlight, Red Racer and the Iron Knight) in Morrison and Gene Ha's Action Comics #9 where he was apparently killed by Superdoomsday, as referenced here; next to Optiman at the top is Blackbird, a version of Big Bang's Bluebird, who herself is a version of Black Canary; beneath her is The Iron Knight who, like Earth 35's The Owl, is both a version of Big Bang's Knight Watchman and a callback to Pasko/Broderick's 'If Bruce Wayne Had Not Become the Batman' from Batman #256; next to Blackbird is Bow Boy, a nod to Big Bang's Kid Galahad, sidekick to the Knight Watchman and thinly-veiled Robin pastiche; and finally, Red Racer, inspired by The Flash via Big Bang's The Blitz.
The icon for Earth 36 recalls the logo of now-defunct airline Pan-Am, perhaps intended to invoke the simpler, more innocent times when Pan Am ruled the skies.
Earth 37 - Or Earth-Howard Chaykin as it's known in our house, Earth 37 brings together a number of out-of-continuity and Elseworlds projects that writer/artist Chaykin has been involved in over the years and dumps them all on the same earth. From left to right we have Robin, Batgirl and a female version of the Joker from Chaykin and artist Dan Brerton's 1997 Thrillkiller mini-series (and it's 1998 one-shot sequel, Thrillkiller '62). Next to the Joker is Chaykin's take on Silver Age DC space hero Star Hawkins, originally created by John Broome and Mike Sekowsky in 1960's Strange Adventures #114, who featured in the 1990 Elseworlds mini-series Twilight (which features some absolutely jaw-dropping stuff from veteran artist Jose Luis Garcia Lopez and is *well* worth picking up if you have the means). Somewhat typically for Chaykin, the previously pretty vanilla Hawkins is a real asshole in Twilight, though he pales in comparison to Hard-Battlin' Howard's space-Hitler characterization of Tommy Tommorow.
Created by Jack Schiff, George Kashdan, Bernie Breslauer, Virgil Finlay, and Howard Sherman way back in 1947's Real Fact Comics #5, Tommy was a member of interplanetary police force The Planeteers and a DC staple via features in Real Fact, Action Comics, World's Finest and Showcase through to 1963. He didn't appear much after that - too glib for the social realism of 70's and 80's comic books - though an unusual retcon caused by Crisis on Inifinte Earths revealed Tommy as the 'real' version of Kamandi, rescued from the Command D bunker by Horatio Tomorrow, now his adopted father. Kamandi was summarily erased from post-Crisis DC continuity, a headache that nobody had to think about anymore thanks to DC's now "consistent" future timeline. Ridiculous. He disappeared again for a few years before Chaykin cast him as the villain in Twilight - a series that brought together all of DC's disparate but generally fairly upbeat 50's and 60's sci-fi series into one miserable, dystopian, highly enjoyable whole.
Finally on the far right we have 61st century outlaw Ironwolf, created by Chaykin in DC's Weird Worlds anthlogy series in 1972. Denny O'Neil scipted (over Chaykin's plots) and studio mate Walt Simonson lettered three Ironwolf tales for Weird Worlds, all of which were reprinted in a 1987 one-shot. Chaykin wrapped the story up with artists Mike Mignola and P. Craig Russell in the 1992 graphic novel Ironwolf: Fires of the Revolution, and I don't think (?) Ironwolf has appeared since.
I think "underground Mars base colonies of the 80's" is a sly reference to Chaykin's 1980's creator-owned series American Flagg!, in which the American and Russian governments left the Earth and set up shop on Mars to rule from afar. Not sure what - if anything - the "Europa bases of the 90's" is in reference to though. Maybe Chaykin's 1996 series for DC's Helix imprint Cyberella? Seems unlikely, but one of the villainous corporations in it is called KorperschatEuropa... yeah, reaching a bit there I think. Anyone have any other ideas?
Page 53 - Earth 38 - The setting for John Byrne's multi-series Elseworlds epic Superman & Batman: Generations - An Imaginary Tale, the first issue of which appeared in 1999. Here Superman and Batman first became active in the late 1930's (as they did in "real life"), but time since then has passed normally resulting in a multi-generational saga of Superman and Batman dynasties that sails right through the present day and into the distant future.
From left to right we have the original Batman (completed with Golden Age-style curved bat-ears and utility belt); Kara Kent, alias Supergirl, youngest child of Superman and Lois Lane; Clark Wayne, alias Knight Wing, Superman's grandson who was raised by Bruce Wayne Jr., the third Batman, who's next to Clark in the armoured suit there; the original Supeman (again with the Golden Age-style outfit); and finally on the far right Joel Kent, Superman and Lois Lane's eldest son, born without super-powers due to his mother's exposure to Gold Kryptonite before he was born. Joel (as you can probably guess by the 1970's Luthor outfit) was a bad apple, resentful of his powerless status within his super-powered family, who killed his sister Kara with the assistance of a potion that granted him powers for a short while at the expense of his own life.
All of the characters here, while of course being *heavily* reliant on Golden Age Superman and Batman continuity, were created by John Byrne and debuted in the first Superman & Batman: Generations mini-series.
Byrne, in a typical curmudgeonly fashion, believed there was a fundamental difference between an 'Imaginary Story' and an 'Elseworlds' (for reasons that aren't at all clear, but possibly to do with the internal logical consistency of each?), and was pretty unhappy that his Generations series (which concluded with little fanfare with 2004's 12 issue Superman & Batman: Generations III) were labelled as such. Somebody asked him on his messageboard what he thought of Morrison's inclusion of the Generations characters here in the Multiversity Guidebook but Byrne closed the thread without responding.
The icon for Earth 38 could well be re-purposed from an actual Byrne drawing of the Earth, but if it is I've not managed to find it.
Earth 39 - Earth 39 is home to the Agents of W.O.N.D.E.R., a hat-tip to Wally Wood's seminal 60's spy-fi series The T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents. It's possible that this was originally intended as home to the actual T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents as DC held the rights to them for almost all of Multiversity's long gestation (the rights transferred to IDW Publishing in 2012 after being with DC in one form or another since the early 00's), though Cyclotron's brief appearance in 2008's Final Crisis as part of the Supermen of the Multiverse might suggest that that wasn't the case.
The characters here are all proxies for the classic T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents line-up. From left to right we have Accelerator,a stand-in for the super-speedster Lightning; Psi-Man, this Earth's version of the T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents' traitorous John Janus, alias Menthor; Cyclotron, a proxy of T.H.U.N.D.E.R. field leader Dynamo; Corvus, equivalent to flying T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agent Raven (Corvus is Latin for raven); and finally Doctor Nemo, Earth 39's version of the mysterious NoMan, a gloomy robot with an invisibility cloak controlled by the disembodied mind of a dead scientist (Wood's T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents is a *really* great comic).
The line in the Earth description about repeated use of the W.O.N.D.E.R. technology being "addictive and ruinous" is a play on the T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents conceit that the powerful technological devices the agents wield are all slowly killing them (a plot point introduced - I think - in the excellent though short-lived and legally questionable 80's Deluxe Comics T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents revival by, amongst others, George Perez, Keith Giffen and Dave Cockrum).
The scientist who invented all of the T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents gadgets back in the original Tower strip was Emil Jennings. How Morrison got from there to "Happy DaVinci, boy genius" I don't know, but I would like to.
All of the T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents characters referenced here were created by Wally Wood and Len Brown and debuted in Tower Comics' 1960's T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents book. The Earth 39 versions all make their debut here, apart from Cyclotron who appeared previously in one panel of Final Crisis #7 by Grant Morrison and Doug Mahnke.
Earth 39's benday dots-heavy icon is taken directly from this Wally Wood panel, though it's not very clear where that strip (if it's even from a strip) actually appeared.
Page 54 - Earth 40 - Earth 20's 'evil twin', and home to the Society of Super Criminals as seen in the pages of The Multiversity: Society of Super-Heroes: Conquerors of Counter Earth #1.
From left to right we have Vandal Savage (immortal caveman and opposite number to the Immortal Man, created by Alfred Bester and Martin Nodell and first appeared in 1944's Green Lantern #10); Doc Faust (based on the villainous Silver Age sorcerer created by Gardner F. Fox and Mike Sekowsky in 1962's Justice League of America #10); Blockbuster (who first appeared in 1989's Starman #9 by Roger Stern and Tom Lyle, though the bulk of his appearances and characterisation came under the pen of Chuck Dixon during his long run on Nightwing. He was actually the brother of a previous villain also called Blockbuster, a thinly veiled DC repaint of Marvel's Hulk, who first appeared in 1965's Detective Comics #345 by Gardner F. Fox and Carmine Infantino); Count Sinestro (based on the renegade ex-Green Lantern created by John Broome and Gil Kane in 1961's Green Lantern #7); and Lady Shiva (created by Denny O'Neil and Ric Estrada in 1975's Richard Dragon, Kung-Fu Fighter #5, though likely better known through her appearances in the 1990's Green Arrow and Batman titles). Finally, soaring above the society is Parallax, the Fear Thing (the Avatar of Fear and living embodiment of the energy that fuels the Sinestro's Yellow Lantern ring, he first appeared in 2005 in Geoff Johns and Ethan Van Sciver's Green Lantern: Rebirth #3, where he was revealed as the corrupting influence behind the heel turn of Green Lantern Hal Jordan back in the 90's).
You can read more about Earth 40 in the annotations for The Society of Super-Heroes here.
Earth 41 - Home to analogues of the signature characters of (most of) the founders of Image Comics - Rob Liefeld, Todd McFarlane, Jim Valentino and Erik Larsen. Fellow founder Jim Lee, now a high ranking executive at DC, is notable by his absence from the fun here.
"A dark and violent world" references the "grim and gritty" phase of comics history, into which Image was born in 1992. Of the edgy anti-heroes seen here, many are a part of the Nimrod Squad, a faintly unkind lampoon on Rob Liefeld's Youngblood - pictured here but not named in the text are "hard-light archer Fletch, the stone-with-a-soul Flintstein [and] actress-turned-hero Vague." (from the expanded description on DC's website).
From left to right we have Fletch - based on Shaft from Rob Liefeld's Youngblood, himself heavily indebted to Liefeld's love of Green Arrow's sidekick Speedy - in the Green Arrow/Green Lantern role; Flintstein, or J'onn J'onzz via Liefeld's Badrock (also backhandedly referencing Frankenstein from Morrison's Seven Soldiers who's role was originally meant to be filled by J'onn); in front of him in the dark red shirt and high collar is probably Sepulchre, named for Youngblood's Chapel - he seems to be some kind of vampire, which could be a reference to vampire super soldier Deadlock, from Liefeld's identikit extreme team Youngblood spin-off Bloodstrike (or it might just be a coincidence); in front of Sepulchre front and centre is this Earth's Batman counterpart, The Scorpion (another alt-Batman from 1974's 'If Bruce Wayne Had Not Become the Batman' from Batman #256 by Martin Pasko and Pat Broderick); right at the back there is Spore, a counterpart to Todd McFarlane's Spawn (interesting that Morrison frames his Spawn counterpart as a spin on Swamp Thing rather than Batman or Spider-Man); next to him is Earth 41's Wonder Woman analogue Vague, named for Younglood's Vogue; next to her is robot assassin Die Hard from Youngblood repainted in the Red Tornado's livery (he doesn't get a name either in the comic or in the expanded website description); and finally on the far right is Dino Cop, the thinnest of thinly-veiled takes on Erik Larsen's Savage Dragon.
Nightcracker is clearly a take on Jim Valentino's Shadowhawk (who's thing was snapping criminal's spines - dark and violent eh?) but he doesn't appear in the group shot.
All of the Image Comics characters referenced were created by Rob Liefeld (Shaft, Badrock, Chapel, Vogue, Die Hard), Todd McFarlane (Spawn), Erik Larsen (Savage Dragon) and Jim Valentino (Shadowhawk), and first appeared as part of the initial wave of Image titles in 1992. Of their Earth 41 counterparts, all but Spore and Dino Cop who both appeared in The Multiversity #1 make their debut here.
Larsen was initially unhappy about Morrison so brazenly using a Savage Dragon proxy with the serial numbers filed off in a corporate-owned comic (like Busiek with the Astro City pastiche, the OG Dragon is owned outright by Larsen himself), but seemed to come around somewhat to the idea after a little while.
Like Earth 35, the icon for Earth 41 icon is covered in Rob Liefeld-esque speed lines.
Page 55 - Earth 42 - Home of the L'il Leaguers, seen previously in both Action Comics #9 and Multiversity #1. The history of this 'Chibi' League (a Japanese term for cartoon characters with a big head and a little body) is pretty weird - though they featured in a couple of issues of Superman/Batman by Michael Nelson, Michael Green and Rafael Albuquerque in 2008, they made their first (and only) appearance some 24 years earlier in the Super Jr.'s Holiday Special: Best of DC Blue Ribbon Digest #58. Their appearance two years before that in Jose Luis Garcia Lopez's classic 1982 DC Style Guide suggests that they were always intended as a marketing tool first and foremost. It's not hard to imagine that this L'il League - rather than solely a specific continuity reference to a 30 year old digest book - is intended also to represent all of DC's various efforts over the last 10 years or so to capture the pre-teen market, from the 00's Super Friends revival through the Fisher Price Imaginext licensed toy line.
Obviously, from left to right here we have Chibi versions of Steel, Batman (the Dick Grayson version as per this issue's main story) and Wonder Woman. The death of Earth 42's Superman at the hands of Earth 45's Superdoomsday was glimpsed briefly in Action Comics #9 (echoing a Chibi Superman's earlier similar death at the hands of L'il Doomsday in 2008's Supeman/Batman #52).
The great and terrible secret of Earth 42 is revealed at the end of this issue, though it's not revisited in the remainder of the Multiversity storyline.
Fittingly for a toytown Earth, the icon for Earth 42 looks like its made from blue and green Plasticine.
Page 56 - Earth 43 - The setting for Doug Moench and Kelley Jones' (who also provides the art here) 1991 Elseworlds graphic novel Batman & Dracula: Red Rain and its two sequels, 1994's Batman: Bloodstorm (where vampire Batman fights the Joker) and 1999's Batman: Crimson Mist (where a bunch of other Bat-villains crawl out of the woodwork to take on the bloodsucking Bat). Perhaps surprisingly Moench and Jones never got around to any of the other DC heroes over the course of the three books so most all of the rest of the Blood League - Green Lantern, Wonder Woman (cracking pair of thighs there), Cyborg and the Flash - make their debut here.
The two exceptions are vampire Robin, who first appeared in 2008's Countdown Presents: The Search For Ray Palmer: Red Rain #1 by Peter Johnson, Kelley Jones, Eric Battle and Angel Unzueta; and Ultraman, who was turned into a vampire by Monitrix Zillo Valla in 2009's Final Crisis: Superman Beyond by Grant Morrison and Doug Mahnke. This would presumably be the Ultraman from the Anti-Matter Universe (as featured in Morrison and Quitely's JLA: Earth 2 graphic novel) rather than the Crime Syndicate member from Earth 3 who we saw back on page 30, though how straight that lines up in anyone's head (including Morrison's) I don't know.
Earth 43 was featured on the 1:25 variant for Pax Americana, with Jae Lee recreating Sheldon Moldoff's classic 'Robin Dies At Dawn' cover from 1963's Batman #156 with vampire Batman and Robin.
The Earth icon, as befits a vampire world, is blood red and shrouded in darkness.
Page 57 - Earth 44 - Home to the human Doc Tornado (a combination of the bald android Red Tornado and pipe-smoking human Metal Men creator Dr. Will Magnus) and his robotic Metal League. Doc and the League all appeared briefly in the last issue of Final Crisis - the robots, driven berserk by a rogue magnetic field, attempted to commit 'Technocide' on board the Watchtower but were fought off by Earth 0's remaining super-types.
Basically they're the Justice League mixed-up with the Metal Men, which is pretty neat. I especially love Nth Metal Hawkman - Nth metal was the fictional alien element that allowed Hawkman to fly. Unlike the rest of the elements here - Gold, Tin, Lead etc. - it didn't figure previously into the chemical composition of the Metal Men.
Presumably Tin is a robot version of Elongated Man rather than Morrison's preferred pliable prankster Plastic Man because... well, a plastic metal man just doesn't really wash does it?
Duncan Rouleau, artist on this Earth 44 pinup, also wrote and drew a *really* great 2007 Metal Men series that picked up threads from his Man of Action compadre Joe Kelly's JLA run, and was "Based on ideas and concepts by Grant Morrison'. Get looking for it on eBay or whatever, the collection is usually very cheap and it's ace.
Nothing much to see on the icon front here.
Earth 45 - The home of Superdoom from Morrison's Action Comics run, first seen in Action Comics #9. Superdoom is a tulpa, a thought-form made flesh, conjured up out of nothing after Earth 45's Clark, Lois and Jimmy take a trip to Tibet. The story is a twisted echo of Golden Age Superman and Batman scripter Alvin Schwartz's 1997 autobiography An Unlikely Prophet, where a Buddhist monk reveals to Schwartz that Superman himself is a tulpa, an idea made real for mankind to aspire to in much the same way as Morrison describes in Supergods - indeed Schwartz, like Morrison, claims to have actually met the Man of Steel in the flesh; in his case in the back of a New York taxi cab. Schwartz's tall tale is relayed in Supergods itself, so its pretty surprising to find that nobody seems to have written anything about the obvious parallel between it and Morrison's Superdoom story. Get on that internets.
Where Schwartz's Superman tulpa was a gift to mankind, Superdoom has been corrupted beyond recognition by contact with corporate market forces, traversing the multiverse and gobbling up the competition. He was apparently destroyed on the dark side of the moon at the end of Morrison's Action run but makes a very brief one-panel cameo in The Multiversity #2 on board the House of Heroes. Whether this was intentional or just a result of editorial handing Ivan Reis a photostat of the Guidebook and saying "make sure everybody gets in there somewhere" remains to be seen.
Visually, Superdoom bears a striking resemblance to Doomslayer, a sort of Bizarro Doomsday created by Paul Cornell, Jesus Merino and Kenneth Rocafort in 2011's Action Comics #901, the first part of the 'Reign of the Doomsdays' storyline.
The Earth 45 icon has a "tm" mark (for trademark) on the map but it's missing here. The icon also appears to have a huge hole in the Eastern United States which I don't think has been explained in-story?
Page 58 - Earth 46 - The sixth - and "second most mysterious" (lol) - of the seven mystery Earths.
Earth 47 - Home of the Love Syndicate of Deamworld (check out the initials, man), Earth 47 is home to a DC Universe permanently stuck in the swinging 60's. Sunshine Superman (named for the Donovan song), Speed Freak (this Earth's version of the Flash) and Magic Lantern (Earth 47's Green Lantern, possibly named for the not very good 60's Beat band, or the super obscure album by psych rock band Haymarket Square, or - most likely - neither) all first appeared in 1990 in Grant Morrison and Chas Truog's Animal Man #23, part of the "Crisis 2" storyline that re-introduced (or just invented wholesale) and re-evaluated various far-out DC concepts that had been swept under the rug with the then-recent Crisis on Infinite Earths.
Brother Power, The Geek (in the rear with the orange jumper) was the star of his own short-lived 1968 series from Joe Simon and (an uncredited) Al Bare, a way-out 60's love-in that frightened the squares upstairs at DC so bad that they cancelled it after only two issues. Brother Power would later be revived as a 'doll elemental' by Neil Gaiman in a 1989 Swamp Thing Annual, was mentioned but not seen in the same Animal Man story that his LSD compadres appeared in, and received his own impenetrable Vertigo one-shot in 1993 with some great early art by Mike Allred.
Shining Star, next to Brother Power, is the last of the alternate Batmen (Batmans?) from 1974's 'If Bruce Wayne Had Not Become the Batman', from Batman #256 by Martin Pasko and Pat Broderick.
Out front is the Love Syndicate's benefactor, teen president Prez Rickard - now apparently immortal and ageless. Another short-lived Joe Simon creation, Prez headlined his own series with art by Jerry Grandenetti for four issues in 1973-4. Like Brother Power, Prez's appearances since DC canned his solo series have always been interesting, from a one issue guest spot in Neil Gaiman's Sandman, through a 1995 Vertigo one-shot by Ed Brubaker and Eric Shanower, to an appearance as Commander in Chief in Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Strikes Again.
The Love Syndicate made it on to Duncan Rouleau's 1:25 variant cover for Ultra Comics, recreating Mike Sekowsky and Murphy Anderson's classic "their arms and legs have turned into trees!" cover from 1962's Justice League of America #9. It looks like Rouleau has maybe replaced the Appelaxian meteor from the original with something a little more... herbal, in keeping with the LSD's ethos.
Prez was revived in 2015 with a new female lead by Mark Russell and Ben Caldwell, though the unwelcome spectre of an early cancellation has hung over the title since the outset. Pick it up next time you're in the comic shop, it's really worth a look.
Predating The Multiversity by at least a decade and change, Michael Norwitz's prehistoric (in internet terms at least) Earth-17 fanfic timeline - based in large part on the Love Syndicate's appearance in Morrison's Animal Man - also placed Prez on the same Earth as the LSD, alongside Batwings (the original inspiration for Morrison's Batwing, Batman Incorporated's "Batman of Africa").
The multi-coloured psychedelic Earth icon had many people guessing that this was the home of the Love Syndicate long before the Guidebook came out.
Page 59 - Earth 48 - In what might be a dig at Marvel's dogged and ongoing mission to pimp the Inhumans as Everybody's Favourite Mutant Stand-Ins despite total reader apathy, Earth 48 appears to be based on the Kirby/Lee Inhuman super royal family model first seen in during their 1960's Fantastic Four run. Lady Quark (on the far left) and Lord Quark (originally Lord Volt, on the far right) were first seen as the regents of Earth 6, a canon-fodder world that fell victim to the anti-matter wave spreading across the multiverse in its first (and last) appearance in 1985's Crisis on Infinite Earths #4 by Marv Wolfman and George Perez.
Flanked by the Quarks on either side we have, along the back row from left to right, Liana, plant elemental and princess of the Quark dynasty who appeared in a couple of panels of Crisis #4; Brother Eyes, probably loosely inspired by the Brother Eye satellite from Kirby's OMAC; Antarctic Monkey, a winged one-note throwaway named for Sheffield indie-popsters the Arctic Monkeys; an unnamed heroine front and centre (I asked editor Rickey Purdin on Twitter what her name was and he gave quite a long and involved answer that can be easily summed up as "I don't know"); and Forerunner, one of a race of assassins employed by the Monitors who first appeared in 2007's Countdown #46 by Justin Gray and Fabrizio Fiorentino.
Down front we have Danger Dog and his unnamed rodent companion (R'ats Al Ghul?) and, in front of Lord Quark, Kid Vicious who remind me a bit of a junior Quentin Quire from Morrison's New X-Men run.
Unless otherwise noted, these various super kids and animals were created by Grant Morrison and artist Guiseppe Camuncoli and make their first appearance here.
As with Earth 15, it's surprising to see Morrison whole-heartedly embrace Countdown here given how much (undeserved) heat he took over it not synching up with Final Crisis proper. Both Forerunner, and the 'War World' epithet in the Earth description come from that sorry excuse for a series. The 'race of Fifth World warriors' bit in the description sounds like a reference to Morrison's rumoured original plan for Final Crisis, where Superman, Batman etc. would ascend to godhood in order to defeat Darkseid's evil machinations - I think it's still heavily implied in the published Final Crisis that the mainline DC Universe is (or will be) the Fifth World to follow the New Gods' Fourth.
The Guidebook description for Earth 48 also echoes Wonderworld from the 'Rock of Ages' arc in Morrison's JLA, a platonic super-world entirely populated by archetypal heroes. Tellingly, Earth 48 is just off to one side of Wonderworld at the top of the Multiversity map, with the mainline Earth 0 sitting closest, and Earth 1 flanking it on the other side.
The large yellow triangle on the icon for Earth 48 might be intended as a stylized 'V' emblem, for Lord Volt.
Page 60 - Earth 49 - The seventh and final mystery Earth. The "most mysterious".
Earth 50 - Earth 12's evil twin and home to the Justice Lords, a tyrannical alt-Justice League first seen in the Stan Berkowitz-written 2003 two-part "A Better World" episode of the Justice League cartoon.
Apparently, the original intention was for the Crime Syndicate of America to star in "A Better World", but the writers and producers decided that a rogue Justice League who still believed they were doing the "right" thing was more interesting than plain evil counterparts. Writer/artist Dan Jurgens explored a similar premise in his story 'Destiny's Hand' (from 1993's Justice League America #71-75), as did Mark Gruenwald and Bob Hall in their 1985 Squadron Supreme mini-series at Marvel. More recently, the video game Injustice: Gods Amongst Us (and it's accompanying comic book) has covered some of the same ground.
The Justice Lords versions of the Justice League - Hawkgirl, Green Lantern John Stewart, Batman, J'onn J'onzz, Superman and Wonder Woman - were created by Stan Berkowitz and the art team on Justice League (headed up by Bruce Timm). They all made their debut in "A Better World".
Pre-Multiversity, Earth 50 was the home to the Wildstorm characters purchased by DC from Jim Lee in 1999. Since the New 52 launched in 2011, attempts have been made to integrate the Wildstorm universe with the mainline Earth 0 DC continuity, though almost all of the Wildstorm properties that made the jump (Voodoo, Stormwatch, Grifter) have long been cancelled and shuffled off to short-term (for now) limbo. As of this writing, only Steve Orlando's excellent Midnighter and Apollo is flying the flag for the imprint that made a Co-Publisher out of Jim, though a Warren Ellis-helmed relaunch is on the cards for 2017.
Earth 50 (along with Earth 34, formerly the home of the Wonder Woman Elseworlds tale Amazonia) is one of only two Earths that were completely repurposed between the 2007 DC Nation Countdown: Arena scorecard and the eventual publication of The Multiversity in 2014.
Though the icons of Earths 12 and 50 show the opposite sides of their respective Earths, the linework makes it seem like they may be from the same source.
Page 61 - Earth 51 - As of 2008's Final Crisis #7, the post-Great Disaster Earth 51 became home for a universe full of characters created during Jack Kirby's brief stint at DC in the 1970's, including the New Gods, Kamandi and OMAC. The cynic in me would suggest that this may not have been instigated for purely story-related reasons. In 2008 Marvel were still embroiled in a long-running copyright dispute with Kirby's heirs similar to the one that DC had already lost with the families of Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster over Superman. Should Kirby's heirs have been victorious in their suit with Marvel (the matter has now been settled, with Marvel's owners Disney paying what's rumoured to be a substantial sum to the Kirby family), DC may have assumed - probably correctly - that they would be next, and that the cost of republishing stories featuring these characters (or publishing new ones) could increase significantly. Much easier to just seal them away on their own Earth and tell the writing pool that they were off limits...
In the end, Kirby's heirs didn't - or haven't as of this writing - pursued DC in a similar copyright suit, and many of the characters (specifically the New Gods) have returned to featuring prominently in DC's mainline titles. The party line at the time was that the New Gods were being shunted off the playing field as no-one could match Kirby's great work with the characters, and that the deluge of Kirby DC reprints that began with the first Fourth World Omnibus in 2007 was just them correcting a long-standing oversight, rather than shoring up funds to squirrel away for a potential future legal battle.
Pre-Final Crisis, Earth 51 also featured heavily in Countdown but, wisely, Morrison has chosen not to address that here. Following his lead, neither will I. I'll just let you know if you're tempted to go and look it up though, it genuinely isn't worth it - go fly a micro-light instead.
There's plenty more stuff on Earth 51 elsewhere in these very annotations, given it's one of the spotlight worlds in this issue. Pictured here are (along the back row from left to right) New Gods Lightray, Mister Miracle, Highfather, Big Barda and Avia. In front of them, from Kirby's Kamandi, are Prince Tuftan the Tiger Man, Kamandi himself, and Ben Boxer, alias biOMAC.
The geography of the icon for Earth 51 follows Kirby's magnificent Earth A.D map from 1974's Kamandi #32, with a land bridge between the north eastern USA and Ireland, South America fragmented by the Great Disaster, and a new "Island of the God Watchers" rising up from the ocean between Chile and Australia (home to the incredible sounding Kangarat Murder Society). Surrounding the icon is a halo of Kirby Krackle, The King's signature style of drawing powerful otherworldly energies.
Page 62 - Phew! Now that's over with, back to the story...
The flaming hand with the pointing finger is from Kirby's New Gods again, specifically 1972's issue #7. It's the method the Source (or the Monitor-Mind in Morrison's expanded cosmology) uses to communicate with the proles down in the physical Multiverse itself.
"Darkseid is but one theme in a symphony" - Morrison's universe-shattering threats are, of course, all the same threat. Darksied/Mandrakk/The Empty Hand/Qwewq/Mageddon etc. etc. More of this when I finally get to annotating The Multiversity #2.
The son of the monitor Novu (effectively the Son of Satan then) is Nix Uotan, the Superjudge, corrupted and boken by those demons The Gentry back in The Multiversity #1. There was a bit of confusion over whether Nix was Dax Novu's son or Rox Ogama's following the respective endings of Superman Beyond/Final Crisis, but it seems to be confirmed once and for all here that it's Dax.
"That dread and empty hand whose name none dare voice." Again, more of this when I get to The Multiversity #2. Spoilers: It's you. And me. And Grant Morrison. Amongst others.
Page 63 - Lightray, the New God of optimism in the face of crushing defeat. Kamandi, the Last Boy on Earth, eternally so.
Red skies again, never a good sign.
The final panel with Nix suggests that he's manifesting *from* the flaming hand of the Source? Perhaps this is an ability all of the Monitors shared rather than just the over-arching Monitor-Mind itself.
The hand's message, "I FOUND YOU". Who found who? Nix found Kamandi? Why was he looking for him? Nix found Darkseid? Hasn't he already found and freed him by this point?
Page 65 - J'onn's 'corpse' reveals that that the little people aren't what they seem.
Page 66 - Earth 17. There's an Atomic Knight Flash here that we didn't see either in the Guidebook pages or in the All-Flash spread in the History of the DC Universe segment. His mask *does* cover his nose so maybe he's supposed to be the guy who I thought was John Wesley Shipp from the old TV show. Atomic Knights Adam Strange and Wonder Woman we've seen previously.
Novamerika calls to mind Judge Dredd's Mega City One.
Page 67 - While Chibi Batman puzzles over how he ended up a robot over on Earth 17, Atomic Knight Batman is (somehow) transported to the Hall of Heroes. That's Dino Cop in panel three, and Lord Volt (from Earth 48), Bloodwynd (from Earth 16) and Chibi Steel (from Earth 42) in the final panel. We last saw all four of them here in The Multiversity #1. See that issue also for where 'the vanguard' ended up after leaving Earth 7.
Page 68-69 -Chibi Wonder Woman was also here in The Multiversity #1, as was Harbinger, the House of Heroes computer system.
Attacking the House of Heroes is Hellmachine of the Gentry, who we saw (very) briefly in The Multiversity #1.
Page 70 - The Empty Hand killing off and reanimating the Chibi characters like playthings is meant to be reflective of the hardships these fictional paragons we constantly build up and knock down go through, in response to both creators looking to write/draw/create some material to help them pay the bills, and to reader's endless demand for drama and change in a setting (corporate comic books) where nothing ever really changes due to constraints/marketing $$ pushing from the outside. This is the central conflict at play in The Multiversity and tellingly, like all of the cliffhangers the series has left us on over a bunch of parallel Earths, it isn't really picked up or resolved at the series conclusion.
There is no end you see. To be continued...
A big thank you for reading this far if you made it :) Comments and corrections always welcome. I'll try my very best not to make the next one drag out over a couple of years like this one did.
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