Thursday, May 03, 2007

The Return Of DC's Multiverse

Spoilers for 52 # 52 follow, in case anyone cares...

I just finished reading the final issue of the weekly series 52. It was an odd year-long series, in my opinion, because my interest waxed and waned pretty significantly over the course of it. If you cared deeply about the characters who were given the spotlight in 52 - Adam Strange, Starfire, Animal Man, Renee Montoya, John Henry Irons, Black Adam, Ralph Dibny and Batwoman, among others - then you probably loved the book, since their stories were told very well. For me personally, I'd say I'm an Animal Man fan, and a casual observer of the rest, so many of the developments were mildly interesting, on average. But I give them major credit for getting 52 consecutive issues of a comic out on time, which is something that I doubt many monthly titles could claim, and then consider that this sucker was arriving weekly! If for no other reason, that would make 52 a big success in my book.

But in the end, the biggest accomplishment of the series came in the final issue. Amidst a bunch of bizarre gobbleygook involving a mutated Mr Mind, Booster Gold and his present-day ancestor, and some multiversal energy left over from Infinite Crisis, the DC Multiverse was reborn! They did it in a way that wasn't what I expected, and it remains to be seen what the real disposition of it is. But here's what I understand:

52 identical universes were created, because the multiversal energy from the tampering that occurred in Infinite Crisis had to go somewhere. (OK so far!) When Mr Mind, in his Mothra phase, interacted with these universes, somehow he transformed each one into a variation on the main universe. So we get a glimpse of an Earth-2 that has a JSA on it that looks slightly different than the one we're currently seeing (and more like the one that used to reside on... you guessed it: Earth-2!), and Earth-3 with an evil JLA that's clearly the Crime Syndicate from the pre-Crisis Earth-3, and so on, including a universe for Wildstorm's titles to exist in, another to hold a version of the Marvel Family (Captain Marvel, Mary Marvel, etc.), one for the Charlton heroes (Earth-4) and even my fave (in terms of variance): the Nazis-dominated Earth-10 (previously Earth-X).

And that's all we know at this point. Which raises the obvious question: what's the point of having these worlds? In most cases, the characters shown already exist on "Earth-1" (the regular universe version) so I assume this means that those folks now have dopplegangers on other Earths, allowing DC.. what? To tell more "out there" tales about those versions, ala the Marvel Ultimate Universe line? In other words, the Earth-2 JSA could be featured in a mini-series in which they decide to take over the world, which would clearly be a tough thing to do in the main DCU. Is that where this takes us?

I guess the followup to 52, called Countdown, will expand on this. At least, I think it will. But buying another 52 comics, most of which are going to be about Jimmy Olsen, Mary Marvel, Donna Troy, and Jason Todd (again, few of whom I really care much about), seems like a Hell of an expense just to find out what's going to happen next. The fact that DC hasn't even revealed what Countdown is counting down to... makes me even less likely to spend that kind of money! On the other hand, it could be something very cool, and as it was with Marvel keeping the lid on Captain America's death, the fact that they're not giving anything away could end up being a good thing! I guess I'll try a few issues and see where it goes from there.

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