A depiction of several alternate Earths within the Multiverse and the different variations of the Flash inhabiting each Earth.
Art by Dan Jurgens and Art Thibert

The DC Multiverse is a fictional continuity construct that exists in stories published by comic book company DC Comics. The DC Multiverse consists of numerous worlds, most of them outside DC's main continuity allowing writers the creative freedom to explore alternate versions of characters and their histories without contradicting and/or permanently altering the official continuity. The number of alternate universes used by the Multiverse construct has varied over the years due to DC Comics' policy of using or abandoning the concept at various points in its publishing history.[1]

After the publication of Infinite Crisis and 52, the Multiverse is again being used in print by DC Comics and consists of fifty-two alternate universes which are referred to by their Arabic numeric designations of the alternate Earths within them ("New Earth", "Earth-1", "Earth-2", "Earth-3", etc.). The numeric designation is used to distinguish the newer fictional Multiverse from the previous one, whose alternate universes used spelled-out numeric designations, such as "Earth-One", "Earth-Two", and "Earth-Three", instead. Template:Fact

History[edit | edit source]

Pre-Crisis[edit | edit source]

Although DC Comics continued publishing from the 1930s through the 1950s, the Golden Age of Comic Books had come to a close in the late 1940s or early 1950s, and most superhero comic books had ceased publication. The only superhero features to survive without long interruptions from the Golden Age to the present were Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, and Green Arrow. In 1956, DC's Showcase comics provided a starting point for the new Silver Age Flash, Barry Allen. It was firmly established in the Flash's first appearance that the Golden Age Flash was a comic-book character within the DC universe, whose fictional exploits inspired Barry Allen to take on the name. With the success of this character, more Golden Age characters' names were reused with new heroes, often having new costumes, identities or powers, such as Green Lantern, the Atom, and Hawkman. In order to facilitate crossovers between heroes from the (main) DC Universe and the Golden Age (which was supposed to be comics in the main universe), an explanation was provided in one story that resonance from parallel worlds can be detected by some people who go on to write stories based upon the information they are receiving.


Wonder Woman and her multiversal counterpart realizing the existence of parallel Earths. Wonder Woman vol. 1 #59, 1953.

The first parallel universe was introduced in 1953 in Wonder Woman (vol. 1) #59, in which Wonder Woman fell through a space-time warp and encountered her double, whose name, Terra Terruna, translated as Wonder Woman. After battling the villain Duke Dazam, Wonder Woman returned home.

The parallel universe concept was not used again until Wonder Woman #89 (April 1957), which featured an alternate Earth where crime predominated. The second was "Magic-Land", an alternate Earth where magic, instead of science, was the dominant force in the world. However, its existence has been ignored in current DC multiverse continuity. It appeared in Gardner Fox's "Secret of the Sinister Sorcerers", Justice League of America (vol. 1) #2.

The story "Flash of Two Worlds" appeared in The Flash (vol. 1) #123 and established the Multiverse concept. In the story, the Barry Allen version of the Flash uses his powers of super-speed vibration to climb a rope suspended in mid-air and vibrates from Earth-One to Earth-Two where he meets Jay Garrick, the Golden Age Flash.

Each universe's Earth has its own set of superheroes, with their own unique characteristics and life histories. In several cases, characters from other publishers acquired by DC, previously established within a fictional universe of their own, have been incorporated into the Multiverse in various alternate universes.

Star Hunters #7 (October 1978), by David Micheline, Bob Layton, and Rich Buckler contains one of the first anecdotal mentions of the multiverse in a DC Comics title, including the term "Multiverse", and offers a description of multiple co-existing parallel Earths. It also describes an ancient war between the forces of light and dark using agents scattered across multiple universes.

Crisis on Infinite Earths[edit | edit source]

Main article: Crisis on Infinite Earths

Star Hunters #7 (October 1978), Donovan Flint learning about the Multiverse, sequences depict Claw the Unconquered and the second Starfire. Artist Rich Buckler

To celebrate its 50th anniversary, DC Comics published in 1985 the 12-issue limited series Crisis on Infinite Earths. The series featured appearances by nearly every DC Comics character published and told a story that allowed the company at the end of the series to reboot its entire comics line with a story that featured a cosmic battle ending with the recreation of the comics universe from the dawn of time with a single universe. The end result was that DC could launch a new era with a reinvention of its major character franchises, such as Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman.

One by one, a villain known as the Anti-Monitor destroyed several alternate universes. Heroes of the last five universes (Earth-One, Earth-Two, Earth-Four, Earth-S, and Earth-X) along with a handful of survivors from other universes (Pariah, Lady Quark, Alexander Luthor, Jr.) held off the destruction of the last five universes long enough to defeat the Anti-Monitor.

Those last five remaining universes were editorially merged into a single universe with its own history that combined elements of all five, along with completely new elements. For example, there was a Flash named Jay Garrick who was a member of the Justice Society during the 1940s, and another Flash named Barry Allen was a member of the Justice League decades later, but there was only one Superman, who had a modified history, different in some respects from both the Earth-One and the Earth-Two versions.

Several pre-Crisis characters (most importantly the Kara Zor-El Supergirl and Barry Allen Flash) were killed during Crisis on Infinite Earths, and as a result were either erased from history (in Supergirl's case) or simply proclaimed dead (Barry Allen) in the new singular universe. Wonder Woman was thought to have been slain in the final issue, but was revealed to have been thrown backwards through time, reverting back to the clay from which she was formed. This set the stage for her reintroduction into the reformed DC Universe and the relaunch of the Wonder Woman comic, helmed by George Perez. Other characters and concepts, such as Streaky the Supercat, Comet the Super-Horse and the Space Canine Patrol Agents, vanished without explanation.

Post-Crisis[edit | edit source]

Although the Multiverse concept was eliminated after the publication of Crisis, several comics published after it made various references to it. A story in Animal Man by Grant Morrison referred to the Multiverse, with its effects coming undone as comic books, along with characters who no longer or never had existed emerging from the Psycho-Pirate’s mask inside Arkham AsylumTemplate:Issue. Keith Giffen's Ambush Bug demonstrated an awareness of the events in Crisis in his various mini-series, in which it was referred to as "Crisis on the only Earth we're still allowed to use." The Books of Magic series, published under the Vertigo label but set in the DC Universe, had a storyline by Peter Gross (beginning in The Books of Magic #51) in which a Timothy Hunter from a parallel universe travelled from universe to universe, killing and absorbing the powers of his alternate selves.

Elseworlds[edit | edit source]

Although DC maintained that the other Earths no longer existed, during the 1990s they published occasional one-shots and mini-series labeled "Elseworlds", featuring alternate versions of their characters— a practice that was consistent with the concept of a Multiverse. DC officially classified these as stories that perhaps "could have" happened but had not actually occurredTemplate:Fact. Some one-shots and limited series without the "Elseworlds" label, such as Frank Miller's reimagining of DC heroes and Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, also diverged from established continuity, or in the case of The Dark Knight Returns, have had continuity diverge from them.

More recently, after the events of 52 re-established the Multiverse as part of DC continuity, many alternate worlds within the Multiverse and the characters that inhabit them are now based on stories that bore the "Elseworlds" label.

Hypertime[edit | edit source]

Main article: Hypertime (comics)

In 1999, DC introduced Hypertime, which provided a conceptual framework to recognize both canonical and apocryphal stories, stating that all stories outside mainstream continuity happened in alternate timelines that had "branched out" and, in some cases, re-merged. Hypertime was a superset of the Multiverse, including not only all pre-Crisis stories set on alternate Earths, but any story set in any continuity. This concept was first referenced in The Kingdom, in which an image of what appeared to be the original Earth-Two Superman was shown. However, the concept has been subsequently used only a few times (most notably in story-arcs in the pages of The Flash and Superboy).

According to Dan DiDio, Executive Vice President of DC Comics, Hypertime will not be featured in any future stories.Template:Fact

Snowflake[edit | edit source]

In Warren Ellis' Planetary series (and subsequently others from Wildstorm as well), the structure of the multiverse is described as a web of 196,833 universes arranged in a pattern resembling a snowflake, each universe separated from its neighbors by a medium called the BleedTemplate:Issue. In the Batman/Planetary crossover, it is said that a "partial multiversal collapse" occurred in 1985, an oblique reference to Crisis on Infinite Earths, though at that time Wildstorm was not part of the DC multiverse. However, when the Wildstorm universe was integrated into the DC multiverse at about the time of Infinite Crisis, the Bleed was shown to lie between the 52 dimensionsTemplate:Fact.

Infinite Crisis[edit | edit source]

Main article: Infinite Crisis

The Multiverse merging into "New Earth". From Infinite Crisis #6 (2006).

In 2005, DC began Infinite Crisis, a DC Universe crossover and sequel to Crisis on Infinite Earths. Stories leading up to the main limited series contained scattered references to the Multiverse, such as the Return of Donna Troy mini-series, in which the titular character Donna Troy returned from the dead and remembered the various origins of her alternate selves (such as her counterpart from Earth-Seven, who became her nemesis Dark Angel), and the Captain Atom: Armageddon mini-series, which had the main character being sent to the WildStorm Universe and inadvertenly causing its destruction and recreation.

In the Infinite Crisis series itself, the Superman and Lois Lane of Earth-Two, the Superboy of Earth-Prime, and Alexander Luthor Jr. of Earth-Three—all survivors of the destruction of the original Multiverse—reappeared, and the former existence of the Multiverse was acknowledged. Earth-Two was recreated in issue #4, and the surviving heroes who originated from Earth-Two were transported there.

In addition to this, worlds previously described only as "Imaginary Stories" or "Elseworlds" were revealed to be universes within the Multiverse, as shown by the presence of Superman Red and Superman Blue from the Silver Age imaginary story of the same name, Superman Jr. and Batman Jr. from the World's Finest stories of the 1970s, the Superman from the Elseworlds story Superman: Red Son, a world featuring Batman, Robin, and Wonder Woman in Aztec garb, and a world featuring characters from the first Wonder Woman pilot as well as from the later Wonder Woman TV show alongside the original Teen Titans in a militaristic setting.[2]

Eventually, Alexander's plan was circumvented when his equipment was destroyed by Superboy (Kon-El, a.k.a. Conner Kent), resulting in all Earths re-merging into "New Earth". The effects of this transformation were shown during the series 52 and in the "One Year Later" storyline.

52[edit | edit source]

Main article: 52 (comic book)

Interior artwork to 52 #52.

In the DC Nation column printed in the back of Week 37, Dan DiDio revealed "the secret of 52" in a coded message. The message was spelled out using the first letter of every third word and said: "the secret of fifty-two is that the Multiverse still exists".

In 52: Week 52, it was revealed that the Multiverse was recreated at the end of Infinite Crisis with the creation of fifty-two separate Earths, separated by different vibrational frequencies and each with their own histories. These Earths were initially identical to New Earth until they were altered by the intervention of Mister Mind.

All Star Superman[edit | edit source]

Main article: All Star Superman

In the tenth issue of the out-of-continuity series, All Star Superman, Superman creates by himself a parallel universe called Earth-Q, to see if a world without a Superman, nor any superheroes, could work. It is revealed at the end of the issue that Earth-Q is "our" Earth, as Friedrich Nietzsche is seen creating his famous Übermensch, or "Superman", concept, and Joe Shuster is shown drawing the first modern Superman on the cover of Action Comics #1.

Countdown and Final Crisis[edit | edit source]

The yearlong series Countdown to Final Crisis, as well as the various Countdown spinoffs and Final Crisis lead-ins feature the multiverse extensively, as several characters traverse the multiverse in search of New Earth's Ray Palmer, while the event of Countdown: Arena involve the villain Monarch collecting various alternate versions of DC heroes and forcing them to fight in deathmatches to decide which ones to recruit in to his army.

While Crisis on Infinite Earth showed the multiverse to be overseen by a single being known as The Monitor, Countdown, 52, and other titles have established that each of the 52 Earths has its own individual monitor.

The events on Earth-51 tie directly in to the early issues of Final Crisis and involve the fate of one of the monitors, Nix Uotan.

In Final Crisis, the multiverse is shown to be made of a cone-shaped or an upside down pyramid form where new earth is at the top holding all the other earths together. If new earth is destroyed all the other earth fall in a domino effect and are also destroyed. "Orrery of Worlds", managed by the monitors.

List of universes[edit | edit source]

Main article: List of DC Multiverse worlds

Traditionally, the "numbered" Earths were spelled out as words rather than with numerals—e.g. "Earth-Two" not "Earth-2"—in part to avoid confusion between similar-looking numerals and letters in hand-lettered text. This convention was disregarded in Crisis on Infinite Earths, and it became common practice to refer to the various Earths with numerals instead; however, Infinite Crisis reverted to the original practice while 52 and Countdown have referred to the alternate universe with numerals.

After the first Crisis, several new universes appeared despite DC's intentions to the contrary. In addition, DC ran a number of crossovers with other companies that involved travel between different realities. Technically, none of these worlds were ever part of the Multiverse.

A new Multiverse was revealed at the end of the 52 weekly limited series.[3] Unlike the original Multiverse, which was composed of an infinite number of alternate universes, this Multiverse is composed of only fifty-two alternate universes, which are referred to as New Earth and Earths 1 through 51. The alternate universes were originally identical to New Earth and contained the same history and people until Mister Mind "devoured" portions of each Earth’s history, creating new, distinct Earths with their own histories and people, such as the Nazi-themed version of the Justice League that exists in Earth-10.[4] Each of the alternate universes have their own parallel dimensions, divergent timelines, microverses, etc, branching off them.[5]

Contact between universes[edit | edit source]


Characters of the Multiverse square off in an issue of Wizard.

Originally in the Pre-Crisis Multiverse, most inhabitants of these various Earths were completely unaware of the other universes, outside of the superpowered populace. The writers at DC Management changed this condition for the main Post Crisis Earth populace who are completely aware of the Multiverse as shown in Final Crisis #7. It is unclear if the populace of most of the alternate Earths of the Post Crisis 52 multiverse are also generally aware of other Earths, though many of the superpowered populace have been shown to be aware of, and interact, with these other Earths and their inhabitants.

The first character recorded to cross the gap between these various Earths was in Pre Crisis reality (chronologically in continuity, not publishing order as this tale was revealed in the series All-Star Squadron in the 1980s) and done by Uncle Sam of Earth-Two, who accidentally crossed over into Earth-X. DC Comics' first published story involving travel between alternate universes was Wonder Woman's crossing into an unnamed parallel Earth, in Wonder Woman (vol. 1) #59 (1953). Barry Allen, the Flash of Earth-One became the first recorded individual during the Silver Age to visit another Earth, accidentally vibrating at just the right speed to appear on Earth-Two, where he met Jay Garrick, his Earth-Two counterpart.

Other characters with super-speed powers have been able to duplicate the trick, but it has not been done routinely. Magic and technological devices have done the job as well. The Justice League of America's "transmatter" device (ordinarily used to transport between their satellite headquarters and the ground), was pressed into service for annual events in which the League and some of their counterparts on other Earths faced a universe-crossing "crisis" of one sort or another. Wonder Woman's invisible jet was also shown to be able to vibrate her across the multiversal barrier (Wonder Woman (vol. 1) #300), and she also crossed over when her magic lasso was struck by lightning (Wonder Woman (vol. 1) #59). Superman could travel to other Earths at will while Captain Marvel used the magical Rock of Eternity that granted him access to any of the Earths.

Writers have occasionally put characters from different Earths together in the same story without explanation, a continuity error often cited as a reason for eliminating the Multiverse in Crisis on Infinite EarthsTemplate:Fact or as an extension of "Earth-B" (cited by DC staff as the setting for team-up stories told in The Brave and the Bold which did not always conform to established continuity for Earth-One, or any other established Earth). For instance, one such story featured Catwoman committing murder, which neither the Earth-One nor Earth-Two versions would ever do as it was strictly against either character's moral code.Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; invalid names, e.g. too many

Earth-616, Marvel's main universe, is typically acknowledged as being part of a different multiverse entirely; in the JLA/Avengers crossover, even after the barriers between Earth-616 and the post-Crisis DC Earth had been deliberately weakened, it was incredibly hard to make the voyage.

Print collections[edit | edit source]

Contact between the universes (or stories set on the other Earths) have been reprinted in the following graphic novels:

Title Material collected
Crisis On Multiple Earths: The Team Ups
Volume 1 The Flash #123, 129, 137, 151
Showcase #55-56
Green Lantern #40
The Brave and the Bold #61
The Spectre #7
Volume 2 The Atom #29, 36
The Brave and the Bold #62
The Flash #170, 173
Green Lantern #45, 52
The Spectre #3
Crisis On Multiple Earths
Volume 1 Justice League of America #21-22, 29-30, 37-38, 46-47
Volume 2 Justice League of America #55-56, 64-65, 73-74, 82-82
Volume 3 Justice League of America #91-92, 100-102, 107-108, 113
Volume 4 Justice League of America #123-124, 135-137, 147-148
Justice Society
Volume 1 All Star Comics #58-67
DC Special #29
Volume 2 All Star Comics #68-74
Adventure Comics #461-466
Crisis on Infinite Earths #1-12
Infinite Crisis #1-7
One Shots
Power Girl Showcase #97-99
Secret Origins #11
JSA Classified #1-4
(Contains a few plot related pages from JSA #32 and 39)
Showcase Presents: Shazam Shazam (1973-1978) #1-20, 26-33
(Stories are set on Earth-S)
Huntress: Dark Knight Daughter DC Comics Super Stars #11
Batman Family #18-20
Wonder Woman #271-287, 289-290, 294-295

Other versions[edit | edit source]

Teen Titans Go #48 introduces its own Multiverse. Each world pays references to various incarnation of the Teen Titans. The worlds shown:

  • The majority of the story is set on a world which is menaced by the Teen Tyrants (Evil Teen Titans), and is defended by The Brotherhood of Justice (Heroic versions of the Brotherhood of Evil). Similar to Earth-3.
  • Malchior's (from the Teen Titan episode "Spellbound") homeworld.
  • A world similar to the past from the Teen Titans episode "Cyborg The Barbarian".
  • A world containing the teen Lobo.
  • A world consisting of the animalistic Teen Titans (from the Teen Titans episode "Bunny Raven").
  • Another future timeline with Nightwing (from the Teen Titans episode "How Long Is Forever").
  • A world consisting of the Chibi Titans.
  • A world in which the Teen Titans (as depicted in the Silver Age comics) consist of Robin, Speedy, Wonder Girl, Aqualad, and Kid Flash.
  • The home of Larry the Titan.
  • A futuristic world where the Teen Titans consist of Nightwing (a vampirish version, based on Dagon of the Team Titans), Battalion (who resembles Cyborg), Mirage (who resembles Raven), and Killowat

Parodies[edit | edit source]

Other media[edit | edit source]

The Super Friends have had crossovers with other universes; in the episode "Universe of Evil", a freak accident causes Superman to switch places with his evil counterpart.

The DC animated universe (DCAU) has depicted the Multiverse. Several characters from the main DCAU have visited parallel universes that were similar to the DCAU:

  • In the Superman: The Animated Series episode "Brave New Metropolis", Lois Lane fell into a parallel Earth where Superman and Lex Luthor had taken over Metropolis, turning it into a fascist police-state.
  • In the Justice League episode "Legends", several members of the League were accidentally sent to a parallel universe where John Stewart's comic-book idols, a pastiche of the Justice Society of America named the Justice Guild of America, live. One member of the Justice Guild hypothesized that there are an infinite number of parallel dimensions.
  • In the Justice League episode "A Better World", the Justice League were held captive by their authoritarian counterparts from another universe, the "Justice Lords". In this universe, Lex Luthor had risen to the U.S. Presidency, and had started a war which had killed the Flash, sparking the Lords' takeover of the world. (Later in the series, the regular Lex Luthor ran for President solely to enrage Superman.)
  • In the Justice League Unlimited episode "Question Authority", the Question is surfing through Cadmus's files on a computer, one of the files is titled "Multiverse".

In Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, the show's primary protagonists, Lois Lane and Clark Kent, encountered an alternate version Clark Kent from a parallel universe on episodes "Tempus, Anyone?" and "Lois & Clarks." In episode "Tempus, Anyone?", in that dimension, Clark Kent had not assume the identity of Superman and was engaged to Lana Lang, Lois Lane had been lost on assignment in the Congo, and Jonathan and Martha Kent have died when Clark was a child. At the Daily Planet, Jimmy Olsen owns the newspaper and Perry White's campaign manager for his mayoral election. The primary version of the Lois, who was abducted by the villain Tempus and took her to this dimension, helped the alternate Clark becomes Superman, only to have Tempus expose his secret identity to the world on television. Despite of Clark's alien origin, the world embraces him as their champion. The alternate Clark later arrives to Lois's dimension to aid her stopping Tempus while the Clark Kent of her world is trapped in a time vortex on episode "Lois & Clarks." After Tempus's defeat, it is implied that the alternate Clark would travel to the past with H.G. Wells and take his world's Lois Lane to his own time thus, under a predestination paradox, explaining her disappearance.

In Batman: The Brave and the Bold, a kind of "multiverse" is referenced in the episodes "Deep Cover for Batman!" and "Game Over for Owlman!", which feature several references to alternate incarnations of DC comics heroes and villains, including Batman and Owlman, respectively.

References[edit | edit source]

External links[edit | edit source]

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