Exploring Alternate Comic Book Realities – Volume 1


Exploring Alternate Comic Book Realities – Volume 1

Alternate dimensions, parallel universes, and similar yet different worlds have always been a staple of Science Fiction lore. Nobody retreads this theme more than Comic Books. Recently, I have begun re-reading my large comic book collection and I have opted to do so in themes. This go round I’m examining the concept of Alternate Realities, mainly as an homage to the first comic book I ever purchased Crisis On Infinite Earths #9 (1985). I’m re-reading my collection, so why not start from MY beginning too, right? There are some fantastic and imaginative stories stemming from taking what has been established as canon, and turning it on its head by changing up a few key moments or events in an established world and thereby creating a separate and distinct reality differing from the familiar. Let’s take a look at some of my favourite Alternate Realities. Starting with this one:

JUSTICE LEAGUE : THE NAIL (1998) and JUSTICE LEAGUE : ANOTHER NAIL (2004)

An Elseworld’s Tale. On the day an infant Kal El is set to arrive on Earth from Krypton, a nail in the road causes the Kent’s to pull off onto the side of the road to fix a flat tire. A different path is laid out not only for the Last Son of Krypton but for all of the characters of the DCU! The landscape of this world is vastly different and a cosmic threat is growing and only Superman can stop it. But that proves difficult in a world without Superman!

Another Nail is the sequel that expands on the first story.

Photo Credits: from my personal collection – Cover Art by Alan Davis

Justice League -The Nail (1999)

Justice League -Another Nail (2004)

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JLA: CREATED EQUAL (2000)
#’s 1 – 2

A strange cosmic occurrence causes all males on Earth to die, leaving only a world run by women and two unlikely male survivors who could by humanity’s only hope…Superman and LEX LUTHOR. Highly underrated, this is some of artist Kevin Maguire’s (Justice League) best work!

Photo Credits:
From my personal stash. Cover art by the incomparable Kevin Maguire

JLA - Created Equal (2000)

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JSA: THE GOLDEN AGE (1995)

JSA: The Golden Age was a four-issue Elseworlds limited series published between 1993 and 1994, written by James Robinson and illustrated by Paul Smith. It featured an alternate take on Golden Age superheroes of the post-war DC Universe having to deal with the struggles of the 1950’s, such as McCarthyism. It expands on some classic characters from comics’ Golden Age as they enter the atomic age and the seemingly out-of-nowhere arrival of the powerful and mysterious Dynaman. The story has some fantastic characterization of some notable C listers, and a juicy final throwdown between all of the principal hero players and the eventually revealed antagonist(s).
A great piece of revisionist history, but it’s a page turner and perhaps one of James Robinson’s best works in my opinion.

Photo Credits:
From my personal stash. Cover art by Paul Smith

SUPERMAN: RED SON (2004)

Superman: Red Son presents a nostalgic and twisted look of what would have happened if Superman’s rocket had landed in the former Soviet Union instead of Smallville in the 1920’s. Rising to become a Soviet Supreme Ruler, and at ideological odds with America and it’s brilliant Scientist Leader Lex Luthor; who is determined to destroy the last soviet son of Krypton! Familiar allies are twisted and distorted. A great read by Mark Millar and Pencilled by Dave Johnson.

Photo Credits:
From my personal stash. Cover art by Dave Johnson

JSA - The Golden Age and Superman - Red Son

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KINGDOM COME (1996) #’s 1 – 4

My first exposure to the beauty that is Alex Ross’ gorgeous and visually stunning artwork, Kingdom Come depicts a world not too far into the future where its heroes of the past have retired following SUPERMAN’s lead, and the next generation of heroes are hard to distinguish from the villains. After a catastrophic incident in Kansas, Superman and the old guard return to restore order and a war erupts between old and new heroes as well as a syndicate cabal of the world’s most ruthless villains — who also have an ace up their sleeves. A ground breaking an remarkable read!

Photo Credits:
From my personal stash. Cover art by Alex Ross

Kingdom Come (1996)

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EARTH X (1999)
#’ 1 – 12

A dystopian future version of the Marvel Universe where regular humans have gained super powers because of a terrigen mist bomb released by the Inhumans. This was Alex Ross’ counter-point to DC’s *Kingdom Come* that he and Mark Waid did in 1996. Both series have a paradigm shift event that happens in the near future, old guard somewhat retired, dead, or re-imagined; and a dark future. Old school rises up. It’s a great parallel, but Marvel’s Earth X had a more mystery spin about it — making it different enough from Kingdom Come and a great example of a potential alternate reality that could still be mined for great story potential.

Photo Credits:
From my personal stash. Cover art by Alex Ross

Earth X - 1 to 4

Earth X - 5 to 8

Earth X - 9 to 12

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X-MEN – AGE OF APOCALYPSE (1995)

A dystopian future version of the Marvel Universe where regular humans have gained super powers because of a terrigen mist bomb released by the Inhumans. This was Alex Ross’ counter-point to DC’s *Kingdom Come* that he and Mark Waid did in 1996. Both series have a paradigm shift event that happens in the near future, old guard somewhat retired, dead, or re-imagined; and a dark future. Old school rises up. It’s a great parallel, but Marvel’s Earth X had a more mystery spin about it — making it different enough from Kingdom Come and a great example of a potential alternate reality that could still be mined for great story potential.

Photo Credits:
From my personal stash. Cover art by VARIOUS

X-Men - Age of Apocalypse

Find them. Read them. Thank me later.

See you next time for Volume 2 where we’ll take a look at more Comic Book Alternate Realities!

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