52 Geek-Out: Multiverse

[continued from yesterday]

I’m taking a break from listing the 37 main DC Universe titles in my DC reboot,
due in part to issues recovering files after the latest round of computer woes, to share the 15 series of the overall 52 that are part of the non- or alternate-continuity DC Multiverse line-within-a-line. (As with the actual DC relaunch, my 52 titles only cover the core DC continuity dominated by superhero adventure, not the Vertigo imprint, licensed-property titles, titles aimed primarily at younger readers, and so forth.)

The first trio consists of series divorced from continuity with rotating features and creative hands. While everything after that — save for the last title — stands on its own, a couple of series are linked by virtue of being set in the same fictional reality. You can of course rest assured that all the old stories you love still “exist” somewhere out there as well...

My rationale for superhumans and even supertech in this new multiverse paradigm
is that when Kal-El’s rocket arrived from Krypton its wormhole brought with it massive energy that over time accounts for the development or at least the gone-into-overdrive mutation of a metagene whose effects vary from enhanced intelligence to hardiness and longevity to staggering powers in a small but significant minority of the population. That’s something I recall discussing with other fans way back when Crisis on Infinite Earths brought about the first intentional overhaul of DC cosmology 25 years ago; I don’t remember at this point whether we came up with it ourselves or it was suggested by a likely culprit such as John Byrne, Marv Wolfman, or Len Wein in the comics press. The parallel realities in my multiverse differ in when or if a Kryptonian craft landed on Earth, with the debut of Superman or his analogue occurring in ways both strange and familiar yet always marking a kind of singularity in each reality’s development of supernormal phenomena.

All-Star Comics
Batman Beyond
The Brave and the Bold

Writers / Artists:

All-Star Comics is an anthology that allows contributors from within and without the comics industry to present their takes on characters and concepts spanning DC’s rich and varied history — from Superman to the Sea Devils to Space Cabbie. Of course, almost everyone gravitates towards a certain Dark Knight when invited to dabble in the DC realm, so there’s also Batman Beyond for that very purpose. The Brave and the Bold lives up to its title by inviting creators to conjure up sequels to and/or “remixed” versions of classic tales.

Mark Waid / Artist: Chris Sprouse

In this series, Kal-El is a young teen when he dons the costume that will make him a legend. Veteran Flash, Impulse, and Captain America scribe Mark Waid — the man who wrote Irredeemable alongside The Incredibles — returns to DC and does a 180 from his dystopic work at Boom! to explore the wide-eyed wonder of a Boy of Tomorrow who’s discovering the world right as it discovers the possibilities of the future. Superboy is like the sunnier side of a mash-up between the Fleischer Superman shorts and Smallville, set in a time that echoes the 1950s we want to remember with inklings of the technology that the era imagined we’d one day have; think Dini & Timm’s animated Batman, but yesterday. Chris Sprouse of Tom Strong and Legionnaires fame draws, with Dave Bullock on covers.

Batman and Robin
Tom Peyer / Artist: Marcos Martin

Batman and Robin offers a lighter look at the Dynamic Duo than the mainstream
DCU, set in a present day that just might be the future of Superboy. Fun but full of action and more than a little mystery, B&R pairs the stunning linework of Marcos Martin [DC’s Batgirl: Year One, Marvel’s Amazing Spider-Man] with the sublimely ridiculous scripting of Tom Peyer [Hourman, Legion of Super-Heroes]. Cover artists include J. Bone, Darwyn Cooke, and Cameron Stewart.

Plastic Man
Writers / Artists:
Roger Langridge and various

After a chemical accident left him with eye-popping powers of pliability, gangster
Eel O’Brian didn’t merely reform (and reform and reform again) — he saw the world in a whole new way. Those charmed by his Muppet Show comics and Fred the Clown understand why Roger Langridge is tapped to bring us the exploits of Plastic Man with help from cover artist Ty “the Guy” Templeton and such guest contributors as Linda Medley, Sergio Aragonés, and the Tiny Titans team of Art Baltazar & Franco.

Jonah Hex
Grant Morrison / Artists: Francis Manapul & Brian Buccellato

The man known as Jonah Hex was cursed to wander different places and times avenging the wronged while trying to find peace for himself. Right now he roams the American Old West. But is Hex a native gunslinger who’s visited the far future or a man trapped in a past not his own? Not even he may know. And a bigger question is whether fan-favorite Final Crisis mindfrakker Grant Morrison [Batman, Doom Patrol, The Invisibles] will ever tell us. Francis Manapul and colorful collaborator Brian Buccellato [Superboy, Flash] illustrate the stories under covers from the fabulous James Jean among others.

Captain Atom and Nightshade
Robert Kirkman / Artist: Michael Lark

Although Superman hasn’t been seen yet in this universe, it’s not without its heroes. Here an attempt to replicate a vessel of alien origin discovered in Kansas by the US government led to a fateful launchpad accident in 1960, turning Air Force Capt. Allen Adam into the being called Captain Atom. Robert Kirkman, co-creator of The Walking Dead, The Astounding Wolf-Man, and more chronicles the world inhabited by Allen; Eve Eden, alias Nightshade; and the men known as The Blue Beetle. Illustrating the conspiracies and crimefighting is Michael Lark [DC’s Gotham Central, Marvel’s Daredevil], with Alex Maleev on covers.

Kyle Baker / Artist: Shawn Martinbrough

In the Milestone universe, the world’s greatest superhero changed the course of race relations the day he made his presence known. Alien to Earth but emerging from his spaceship in the US heartland with the appearance of an African American — just as the likeness of the mainstream DCU’s Superman matched his own adoptive parents’ — Icon has both united and divided the planet’s population, as well as inspired such younger protectors of the less fortunate as Static, Rocket, and Hardware. Shawn Martinbrough [The Creeper, Shadow Cabinet] returns to help reinvent the Milestone concept with moody interior art; the versatile, appropriately iconoclastic Kyle Baker [DC’s Plastic Man, Marvel’s Truth: Red, White, & Black] writes and provides the covers.

The Powers of Shazam!
Sholly Fisch and friends / Artists: Cliff Chiang and friends

Superman might not exist in this universe where magic and whimsy flow more freely, but you can count on the Captain Marvel family. Perils ranging from the sinister genius Dr. Sivana to the Seven Deadly Sins incarnate are why an ancient wizard has granted pure-hearted Billy Batson, Mary Batson, and Freddy Freeman incredible powers — the powers of Shazam! Having proven that he can lovingly nod to nostalgia while making DC mythology feel fresh, Sholly Fisch [Batman: The Brave and the Bold, Super Friends] writes the Marvels’ ongoing exploits as illustrated by the clear lines of Cliff Chiang [Green Arrow / Black Canary]. Covers are courtesy Sean “Cheeks” Galloway, with stand-alone backup stories from the likes of Dave Roman & Raina Telgemeier, Jill Thompson, and Ralph Cosentino.

Freedom Fighters
Gail Simone / Artist: Aaron Lopresti

Freedom Fighters centers on a group of rogue superheroes in a world living under the thumb of Ultra Man, Owlman, Superwoman, and other cruel counterparts of the Justice League. Gail Simone, who has plumbed the depths of depravity and the profound potential of hope as writer of Birds of Prey, Deadpool, and Secret Six, brings her unique qualities to bear in tandem with her former Wonder Woman partner Aaron Lopresti. Starman and Ex Machina artist Tony Harris provides the covers.

Legion of Super-Heroes
Anina Bennett / Artist: Paul Guinan

The future is yet to be written for this incarnation of the Legion of Super-Heroes.
One thousand years after the arrival of Superman sparked Earth’s awareness of and interaction with extraterrestrial life, humanity has established relations with or colonized planets throughout the galaxy. But the very nature of exploration brings conflict, and relative global peace — forged only in the wake of unspeakable tragedies — may have led to complacency, so a new generation must take inspiration from the Teen Titans, Arthurian Round Table, and Argonauts of yore to battle cosmic perils. Paul Guinan brings the detail that delighted fans of Chronos to the interior art, with his Heartbreakers and Boilerplate co-conspirator Anina Bennett scripting, under cool covers from Stéphane Roux.

The Adventures of Superman
Ed Brubaker / Artist: John Paul Leon

The Adventures of Superman revisits earlier interpretations of the Man of Steel with
a modern sensibility. Celebrated Batman, Captain America, and Daredevil writer Ed Brubaker — who’s reinterpreted the Golden Age in The Marvels Project and trained his expert eye on ordinary folks dealing with an extraordinary world in Gotham Central — returns to DC to refresh the original Superman’s status as a champion of the oppressed both in costume and as quietly crusading newspaper reporter Clark Kent. Here the Last Son of Krypton once again came to Earth at the dawn of the previous century, making his public debut in 1938 as America dealt with poverty, inequality, and bigotry at home while fascism reared its head abroad; merging the noir of the Fleischer Superman shorts with the pulp of the 1950s Adventures of Superman series starring George Reeves, and Siegel & Shuster’s seminal strips with Wolfman & Ordway’s 1980s homage to the same, this is yesterday’s Man of Tomorrow for today. John Paul Leon of Static and Earth X fame illustrates in a mix of art-deco chiaroscuro, with covers done in various styles by Alex Ross.

Justice Society of America
Paul Dini / Artists: Dustin Nguyen & Derek Fridolfs

In this companion series to The Adventures of Superman its wider universe gets explored as citizens with strange abilities emerge from the shadows alongside mysterymen who rely on their wits and gadgets alone. Combining grit with optimism as such fantastic characters as Batman, Wonder Woman, The Flash, and Green Lantern are unveiled in stories based on their earliest published exploits but woven into an intricate new saga, Justice Society of America keeps the stunning Batman: Streets of Gotham tandem of writer Paul Dini, penciler Dustin Nguyen, and inker Derek Fridolfs together for more gorgeous, gripping thrills. Painted covers from Steve Rude, Jerry Ordway, and Eric Powell are the icing on the cake.

Infinity Inc.
Alex Ross & Jim Krueger / Artist: Doug Braithwaite

The multiverse is a place of infinite possibilities — infinite births, infinite lives,
infinite deaths, and infinite threats. So protectors from many eras of many Earths have secretly come together to keep the scales of justice balanced on a level that even their closest compatriots scarcely imagine exists, and not all of them choose to remember their time served when a mission is complete. Alex Ross [Marvels, Kingdom Come] provides the covers and reunites with his frequent collaborators Jim Krueger [DC’s Justice, Dynamite’s Project Superpowers] as wordsmith and Doug Braithwaite [DC’s Justice, Marvel’s Universe X] on interior art to offer a multigenerational, multiversal take on Infinity Inc.

Intro | DCU Part 1 | DCU Part 2 | Multiverse
| DCU Part 3 | DCU Part 4 | DCU Part 5 | DCU Part 6 | Index


  1. You know, the only downside to this exercise is that I'd much rather read what you're proposing here than what DC is actually doing...

    Ever since DC said "to hell with it" and brought back the multiverse, I've never understood why they haven't embraced more, doing the kinds of things you've suggested here. Now they have yet another perfect opportunity to do so, and from the sounds of it, they're wasting it yet again.

    Of your suggestions, my favorites include Batman and Robin (Marcos Martin would be the perfect artist), the 60s conspiracy feel of Captain Atom and Nightshade, and the retro/noir/art deco Adventures of Superman/Justice Society of America (I would LOVE DC to do a 30/40s era Superman book...), but really, all of the ideas you laid out in this post are great.

    If this was what DC was doing, I'd be buying a lot more titles come September...

  2. You can of course rest assured that all the old stories you love still "exist" somewhere out there as well. 8^)


    I would buy multiple copies of all of these titles, Blam. One to read, one to stash away as a collector's item (or display with care and let me tell admirers that I read the concepts for them before almost anybody else), and one to pass out to friends, saying, "Yo! DC comics are cool again!" More comments soon.

  3. PS: I feel the same as Teebore. And I love your ideas for the quirkier middle titles using the other characters DC has absorbed over the years, each with their own flavor, but when I think about the first couple and last few series I just smile (then get honked off that DC is squandering the opportunity to do anything remotely like this). I miss writing fan fiction.