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  1. #1
    "filthy n'wah" pakehafulla's Avatar
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    Default Alternate Worlds

    I've been wondering lately whether there are any other fans out there in this forum of alternate world stories.
    The most widely known in comics would be Earth 2(pre New 52), and maybe the Age of Apocalypse earth.

    So...what are your favourites ?

    This is a genre I have loved since Star Trek probably, combined with my adoration of Planet of the Apes, and then the discovery of DCs multiverse. I always grabbed the JLA/JSA crossover when available, (and wasnt there an issue with the Freedom Fighters from yet another Earth?) and many of my childhood favourites were JSA members. This also led me to an obsession with the All-Star Squadron for a few years in the '80s.

    Personally I dont count the myriad "imaginary" stories, or "what if ?" type, but like the "canon" alter-worlds. So Days of Future Past is a particular favourite, but Superman Red/Blue isnt what I'm getting at for the purposes of this discussion.

    I also really liked where the Ultimate Universe went up to the Ultimatum stuff. I enjoyed their slightly more realistic approach, and while there were some misses, in general I enjoyed the most of it.
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  2. #2
    Remember the Herculoids
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    Default Ultimate Marvel, Dr Strange and the Sandman, for starters...

    I think alternate worlds are still something of an untapped uh, dimension, in comics. I like the idea of stacked dimensions, like the Ultimate FF's negative zone. The original negative zone was awesome, too, and I like the way Ult. FF used the concept for a different purpose. I thought the Ultimate Universe should have gone in that direction.

    In the 60s, Doc Strange seemed revolutionary for stepping through different dimensions. I think it's a more interesting concept than using outer space as a setting for cosmic battlegrounds. I just read The Infinity Gauntlet, and I was not impressed. Outer space is mostly desolate and unimaginably vast, not the teeming O'Hare Airport of cosmic odyssey/battle types of comics and sci fi.

    In terms of imaginary worlds, it's hard to draw the line, if you've read Gaiman's Sandman. His alternate worlds are both real and imaginary at the same time.

    So, yes, I think this is an impressive topic, and would like to hear more from other fans and writers what they think are the most successful alternate worlds, and where the possibilities might lead now.

  3. #3
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    Doctor Strange is the touchstone for me as well. Still haven't read Sandman much.

    In comics, I think my first exposure to the idea of a multiverse was the Nexus of Realities in the old Man-Thing series written by Steve Gerber. Did he get the idea from Michael Moorcock's Eternal Champion stuff, I wonder? Gerber did a fantastic job with the idea, as he did with everything else in that series, one of the best things ever published by Marvel.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Polar Bear's Avatar
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    Default

    Good topic.

    Earth-2, yes. Part of what I loved about it was its limited nature: it had (post-1965) only one or two titles, maybe All-Star Comics, All-Star Squadron, or Infinity, Inc., plus the occasional JLA/JSA team-up, anniversary issue of Superman, Showcase appearance, or Wonder Woman story arc. The scarcity was part of its value. That's something that was very clever about the Ultimate universe, too; they were very wise to limit that line to four titles per month. Part of my movement away from the Marvel Universe was the proliferation of titles, making me feel like even if I invested $10-15 a week in their comics, I still would end up missing pretty major things. I didn't like that out-of-the-loop-even-though-I'm-trying-to-follow-it sensation, and (i realize now) that's part of what drove me to leave the weekly gig.

    I also liked the Negation mini-verse under CrossGen (the universe Charon came from).

    Tom DeFalco's MU-2 that grew out of one issue of What If? eventually contained Spider-Girl, J2, A-Next, DarkDevil, American Dream, Wild Thing, The Buzz, Fantastic Five, and a few other fun-if-silly comics; I have about half of the Spider-Girl/Amazing Spider-Girl issues and pretty close to a complete run of everything else related to MU-2. And that's pretty funny, given how much I disliked Thunderstrike, same years, same creative team.
    Last edited by Polar Bear; 01-29-2013 at 10:52 AM. Reason: to include MU-2
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  5. #5
    Idaho Spuds Slam_Bradley's Avatar
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    Default

    For someone like me, who could care less about continuity and only wants a good story, alternate worlds give the writer a chance to actually do something with the characters without being tied down to 70 years of minutiae. At the end of the day in the "mainstream universes" Bruce Wayne will be Batman, Clark Kent will be Superman, they'll both be around 29 years old and most of the details of their lives and adventures are going to be the same as they've always been. The illusion of change is boring.

  6. #6
    Modus omnibus in rebus Roquefort Raider's Avatar
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    I like the principle of alternate universes as devices to tell stories that wouldn't be possible in the "standard" world that a given character lives in. I was a big fan of the early "What if..?" books from marvel and the Elseworlds from DC. I even liked series like The Ultimates and Ultimates 2, because they were essentially Avengers movies and had an appropriate ending (both times). I don't care whether "Superman for all seasons", "Peace of Earth", or Stan Lee's and Moebius' "Silver Surfer" are set in the same reality as the regular books; they're just good stories in and of themselves.

    But with that as with anything, there is too much of a good thing; at one point, the freshness of an idea grows stale and we get confusing exploitation with little payoff. The Squadron Supreme universe in Avengers was a good idea, and that team's maxi-series was good enough. But repeated series featuring the same JLA clones are just more of the same, and derivative to boot. The Days of Future Past storyline and its alternate future were a high point of the New X-Men's early days, but constant references to that alternate timeline got old pretty fast. I can't really understand who would truly care about a continuing "Age of Apocalypse" comic or another one in which some alternate X-persons travel across dimensions to meet other alternate X-persons. The alternate universe is a good idea to tell good stories outside of regular continuity, but if they serve to establish another quickly-stifling continuity then I don't really see the point.

    Earth-2 (the real one) is a special case, because it's not a different continuity that was built anew; it's an old one that was allowed to endure. DC should really have left that legacy alone.
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  7. #7
    Senior Member Polar Bear's Avatar
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    Hmm... Perhaps I could say that the Marvel Universe ended with Secret Wars. Doctor Doom held the power of the Beyonder at the end of #10, at which point my personal MU diverges such that Doom moves all super-villains on planet earth to the Beyonder's warworld. He then sends the heroes home, to a world without supervillains. Doom stays on warworld, supreme planetary emperor, determined to knock some sense into the villains on New Latveria. But some of the cannier villains trick him, as Captain America did in Secret Wars #12, into giving up his ultimate power, which returns to the Beyonder, leaving the villains trapped there forever. The end.

    See? A (relatively) happy ending for the Marvel Universe. Spidey gets to marry MJ without Osborne problems. Cap hangs up his shield. Daredevil has time to make it to Mass on Sundays. It's not a problem-free solution--new villains may arise, there are still alien races out there, Spidey's costume is still alive, and the Negative Zone is right where Reed left it--but I think it allows for a relatively good stopping point, anyway, lacking a defined Crisis or Flashpoint.

    And that's my alternate world.

    If anyone has a better "happy ending" (or at least "heroic ending") for the MU, I'd love to hear it.
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  8. #8
    Senior Member Ish Kabbible's Avatar
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    My first encounter with the parallel/alternate world concept was in an early 60s Superman comic. Something to the effect that the cover boasted "Not a Dream, Not a Hoax, Not an Imaginary Story". This concept stunned my 10 year-old mind at that time (it's possible this story pre-dated the Flash tale about Earth-2 but I'm not sure which issue of Superman it occurred).
    My all-time favorite alt world tale is the novel The Man In The High Castle by Phillip Dick. Other favorites include the original Squadron Supreme story and the story in Avengers Annual #2

  9. #9
    Modus omnibus in rebus Roquefort Raider's Avatar
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    I wouldn't forgive myself if I didn't mention Lash House!

    Great alternate DC universe!!!
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  10. #10
    Amphibian Phil Maurice's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Polar Bear View Post
    Hmm... Perhaps I could say that the Marvel Universe ended with Secret Wars. . .And that's my alternate world.

    If anyone has a better "happy ending" (or at least "heroic ending") for the MU, I'd love to hear it.
    I've leaned on this one before, and it's definitely a cheat, but didn't the MU (and for that matter, everything) end when the aforementioned Dr. Strange tracked Sise-Neg back to the beginning of time, at which point the universe was destroyed and re-made exactly as before, with only Doc being the wiser?

    I've taken to blaming certain directions that Marvel has taken, which I find myself at odds with, since then on Sise-Neg falling a few millimeters short of "exactly." We all find ways to cope.
    "Leviathans have tried and failed! You will not eat the true Sub-Mariner!"

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  11. #11
    Welcome to Bleeker Street MRP's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Phil Maurice View Post
    I've leaned on this one before, and it's definitely a cheat, but didn't the MU (and for that matter, everything) end when the aforementioned Dr. Strange tracked Sise-Neg back to the beginning of time, at which point the universe was destroyed and re-made exactly as before, with only Doc being the wiser?

    I've taken to blaming certain directions that Marvel has taken, which I find myself at odds with, since then on Sise-Neg falling a few millimeters short of "exactly." We all find ways to cope.
    Go back earlier...who's to say Doom's time machine brought him or the FF back to the same world they left and not some alternate universe, and if they changed the time stream while using it, did they in effect create an alternate universe? Maybe things have gone wrong because they came back to a different MU...

    -M
    A lunatic is easily recognized...You can tell him by the liberties he takes with common sense...and by the fact that sooner or later he brings up the Templars.
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  12. #12
    Amphibian Phil Maurice's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MRP View Post
    Go back earlier...who's to say Doom's time machine brought him or the FF back to the same world they left and not some alternate universe, and if they changed the time stream while using it, did they in effect create an alternate universe? Maybe things have gone wrong because they came back to a different MU...

    -M
    By Gadfrey, you're right! There's also The Cosmic Treadmill, Superman's routine jaunts into the past, the perfidy of Vandal Savage and Per Degaton! I can dismiss virtually ANY comics story EVER written that doesn't suit my particular taste without being an annoying jerk!

    Oh, wait. No. It turns out that's the definition of being an annoying jerk. Crap!!
    Last edited by Phil Maurice; 01-29-2013 at 01:23 PM.
    "Leviathans have tried and failed! You will not eat the true Sub-Mariner!"

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  13. #13
    Idaho Spuds Slam_Bradley's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Phil Maurice View Post
    By Gadfrey, you're right! There's also The Cosmic Treadmill, Superman's routine jaunts into the past, the perfidy of Vandal Savage and Per Degaton! I can dismiss virtually ANY comics story EVER written that doesn't suit my particular taste without being an annoying jerk!

    Oh, wait. No. It turns out that's the definition of being an annoying jerk. Crap!!

    And here I thought it was the definition of being sane.

  14. #14
    Amphibian Phil Maurice's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Slam_Bradley View Post
    And here I thought it was the definition of being sane.
    It may well be. As I said, we all find ways to cope.

    But MRP's clever post got me thinking: it's probably a question for Kurt, but at what point in comics does Time Travel rear its ugly head? It must be a Golden Age story. Overstreet makes much of the first television and the first computer in comics, but I can't find THE first instance of time-travel. I wonder. . .
    "Leviathans have tried and failed! You will not eat the true Sub-Mariner!"

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  15. #15
    Amphibian Phil Maurice's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MRP View Post
    Maybe things have gone wrong because they came back to a different MU...

    -M
    BTW MRP, I missed this subtlety on my initial read, but I appreciate your saying that "things have gone wrong". Have they ever.
    "Leviathans have tried and failed! You will not eat the true Sub-Mariner!"

    Namor, Defenders #3

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