DC Comics questions

When I was a kid, I did extensive reading of comics. Howeve, 99% of my reading was Marvel. I never really got into the DC scene, restricting myself to a few issues of The Teen Titans in the mid '80s.

Anyway, In discussions, I’ve often heard referrals to Earth-1, Earth-2, etc. What are these earths? Did they have the same heros (was Superman in both?) ?

Secondly, I came across a mini-series a few years ago called America vs. the Justice Society (I think that was the title), whereby on the basis of Batman’s diaries, the JS was put on trial for treason. However, one unmistakeable fact that came from the series was that Batman was dead. Huh? In addition, all of the heros of the JS were much older (Supes was greying around the temples) and some (notably the Flash) wore much different costumes than the ones we’re familar with. When did DC kill off Batman? And, if they did, what are all those Batman comics I see on the shelf today? I know from my Marvel reading experience that dead heros rarely remain in said state (I remember the Death of Superman a few years back), but I don’t remember any publicity that would surely have been generated by Batman’s death.

I may have more questions later, but I’ll stop here and let people answer for now. Thanks in advance for the answers.

Zev Steinhardt

I’m sorry, mods. Please move to Cafe Society.

[sub]I can’t believe I posted in the wrong forum…[/sub]

Zev Steinhardt

Earth-1 and Earth-2 were a way to bring back the 40s (golden age) heroes into the 60s (silver age) comic books. The idea (first used by Gardner F. Fox, IIRC) was that there was a parallel dimension where all the golden age heros lived; that was Earth-2 (the main continuity – and supposedly all of us – was in Earth-1).

IIRC, it was introduced in an issue of the Flash, where Barry Allen got a chance to meet Jay Garrick (the golden age original). Later, the Justice League of America teamed up with the older Justice Society of America for “Crisis on Earth-1” and “Crisis on Earth-2,” a two-issue miniseries.

The combination was evidently successful and there were more crossovers between the two groups of heroes. Superman and Batman and Wonder Woman were theoretically in both, but were usually not shown on Earth-2 stories.

There was even an attempt to create a “Crisis on Earth-3” series, where there were no heroes, just supervillains. A few of the Earth-2 characters (notably Black Canary) switched over to Earth-1 permanently.

DC Comics had its first successful run in the Second World War era, when the Justice Society was formed. In the 1960s, most of the characters were revamped in some way, with new costumes, new origin stories, different powers, and sometimes even completely different personas. When the revamped characters came together as a team, they were the Justice League instead of the Justice Society. The explanation offered for these massive changes was that the WWII-era stories took place in an alternative reality to those that were being published currently. So the current stories were taking place on “Earth-1” and the older stories were taking place on “Earth-2.”

Earth-2 still existed and since their heroes had begun their careers decades earlier, they were all older than the Earth-1 heroes, and some of them had died or had been killed by the 1970s. There would often be crossover stories in which the heroes in one reality somehow found their way to another reality. During the 1970s, the number of alternative realities multiplied, including one in which the counterparts of Earth-1 superheroes were all super-villains. The story was that there was an infinite number of realities, all with slight differences. (The earth that we as readers of the comic books live on – the one with no costumed superheroes – is Earth Prime.)

At the end of the 1980s, DC went through a series of stories – “The Crisis on Infinite Earths,” which resulted in all the realities being compressed into just one reality. So, since then, the Justice Society characters and the Justice League characters became part of the same reality. So instead of one reality (Earth-2) on which the Green Lantern was Alan Scott (whose powers were of mystical origin), and another reality (Earth-1) on which the Green Lantern was Hal Jordan (whose powers were granted him by an interplanetary police force), both Alan Scott and Hal Jordan lived in the same reality, only they started their careers several decades apart. For characters like Superman and Batman, who were too important to have duplicates running around, their multiples personas were compressed into single personas and rewritten to account for any discrepancies.

zev needs help on a comic question? Must be the Earth-2 zev.

I quote from http://www.io.com/~woodward/chroma/crisis.html

DC had a case of the doldrums in the 50’s, and most of the superheroes disappeared except for the biggies like Superman and Batman. Then in the late 50’s, early 60’s, they reintroduced some of the old superheroes, with more modern costumes and re-worked origins. When Flash came along for his rebirth, I believe that the “old” Flash was a comic book hero in the “new” Flash’s world. As the story progressed, it turned out that the “old” Flash was really an actual person in an alternate universe that DC called “Earth 2”. From that point, we learn that all the other members of the old “Justice Society” were also alive an well in Earth 2, although since they lived back in the 40’s, they were that much older than the current Earth 1 “Justice League” members. We then move through several years of special “Earth 2” crossover stories, where various superheroes from one or the other Earths meet one another. They even started to introduce still more parallel universes, when the need for an “alternate” superhero arose. Eventually it got so confusing, DC had their “Crisis on Infinite Earths” and merged them all together in a multi-universal implosion. When the smoke cleared, everybody was in the same universe, including the oldsters from Earth 2, who were now sort of mentors to the Earth 1 superheroes. Oh, and again everyone had their origins, costumes, etc., upgraded, as necessary to meet the times. I’ve lost track of it since then, but that’s my summarized memory of the historical events, and I’ll let the nitpickers explain the details and any errors I made.

Well, it’s kinda complicated.

The DC Universe started back in the 30’s and 40’s with Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, the original Green Lantern (Alan Scott), Flash (Jay Garrick), Atom (Al Pratt), Dr. Fate, Wildcat, etc.

After the war, superhero comics lost their popularity and were replaced by war comics, westerns, romances, and so on. Superman, Batman, and a few others survived this period, but most of the heroes from the so-called “Golden Age” were lost to the mists of time.

In the mid-50’s and early 60’s, DC revived their superhero line, in part by reimagning some of their old characters. (The Silver Age) Therefore, there were now a brand-new Green Lantern, Atom, Hawkman, and Flash. In the first issue with the new Flash, it was shown that when police scientist Barry Allen was granted speed powers, he took his name and costume idea from an old Flash comic book starring Jay Garrick, so it was established that this Flash’s stories took place in a world separate from the original’s.

Eventually the two Flashes met up; Barry crossed the dimensional barrier and visited the world where Jay lived. Since Barry’s world was the one in which most DC stories were taking place, it was known as Earth-1. The JSA lived on Earth-2.

There were several differences between Earths 1 and 2. Since their original adventures were tied to WWII, modern stories of Earth-2 showed the JSA as aged. The Earth-2 versions of the Flash, Green Lantern, Atom, and Hawkman were different than their Earth-1 counterparts, because they were the originals which were revamped in the 1950’s. JSA heroes like Dr. Fate or Starman were never revamped, so the Earth-2 versions were the only ones. (Conversely, heroes like Metamorpho were new in the Silver Age so they existed only on Earth-1). Superman and Batman (and some others) had strips that lasted through the interregnum, so they existed in both Earth-2 and Earth-1 versions. (But, again, since the Earth-2 versions lived through WWII, and the modern versions showed up “about 10 years ago,” the E-2 versions were much older.)

The multiple earths concept proved a very popular one, especially when the Earth-1 JLA/Earth-2 JSA meeting became an annual event. Their first team-up (which I haven’t read, so my details may be a bit off) came when the JSA contacted the JLA for assistance, and the story was titled “Crisis on Earth-2.” Next year, the JLA and JSA went to another dimension, Earth-3. Later, they visited a dimension populated by the characters originally published by the Fawcett company in the Golden Age (Captain Marvel, Mary Marvel, Black Adam), which DC had purchased the rights to. DC also purchased the rights to the old Quality characters (Phantom Lady, Uncle Sam) and Charlton’s, too (Blue Beetle, the Question). Each of these groups lived on their own planet and had very little commerce with the others. (The first several of these JLA-JSA team-ups, all of which were titled “Crisis on Earth-whatever” are being reprinted in a new TPB in a few months called, IIRC, Crisis on Multiple Earths.)

By the 70’s, there were some series that took place on Earth-2, such as a revival of the JSA’s feature in All-Star comics; America vs. the Justice Society was another. (Captain Carrot and the Zoo-Crew took place on Earth-C, which was visited by Superman!) The series you read told of the adventures of Earth-2’s JSA. It’s not just that the Flash’s costume was different; he was a different guy! It was the Earth-2 Batman that had passed on. The “real” Batman, inhabitant of Earth-1, was seen every month in his own titles.

Eventually it was decided that this was all too confusing, what with the JLA, JSA, Charlton heroes, Shazam! heroes, Quality heroes, and the Crime Syndicate of America all living on different worlds. The decision was made to consolidate all the DC-owned stories into a single dimension to the extent possible. This was done via a huge crossover. Since the original stories were all “Crisis on Earth-whatever,” this was called the “Crisis on Infinite Earths.”

During Crisis, a bad dude named the Anti-Monitor destroyed pretty much all of the multiverse, obliterating infinite worlds. The heroes of all the multiverse managed to save six earths, but they were unstable, so they were merged into a single earth. After the dust settled, what happened was this. Most of the original Golden Age comics (whether published by DC or Quality) really happened back around the time of WWII. The Phantom Lady was in the JSA back then, as was Starman. The Charlton, Fawcett, and modern DC heroes all existed in the present day, having appeared there “around ten years ago.” That’s why in today’s JSA comic, Jay Garrick, the original Flash, is an old man. (He should be older, but he was irradiated by time particles or something.)

Of course, there are some problems, particularly with heroes that lasted through the interregnum. For instance, post-Crisis, only the Earth-1 Batman ever existed, not the Earth-2 version who fathered a child named Helena Wayne, aka the Huntress. So who is the Huntress now? (It turns out, she’s Helena Bertenelli, daughter of a mob family.) What’s the deal with Black Canary, an original JSA heroine who crossed over to live with the JLA pre-Crisis on Earth-1? Now, there are two. The JSA version and her daughter, the modern version. (Kinda the same thing happened to Wonder Woman.) And given that the Green Arrow now never existed in the Golden Age, who the hell was in the Seven Soldiers of Victory, a team in which he was included back in the Golden Age?

These questions are answered as they go along, but they’re not always answered well, which causes additional problems.

But anyway, I hope that answered your questions.


Moved to the Cafe at request of the OP.

Right now, zev feels kinda like that guy on the cover of Flash #123 with all the bricks about to fall on him.


Cliffy, nice summary.

Zev, Trion’s link is a great one. Not least because it agrees with my opinion that Swamp Thing #46 was probably the best of the Crisis crossovers. Great damn, that was a fantastic ish.

Nah, cliffy, I think I’ve got it.

Marvel handled the situation a bit differently. They simply relegated most of their WWII heroes to the past. The ones that they brought back, they gave semi-plausible explanations as to where they were from 1945 until the 60s (Captain America was floating around the North Atlantic in suspended animation. The Submariner was a wandering amnesiac around the Bowery [you’d think the wings on his feet would’ve tipped somebody off!]). After the 60s, they simply “compressed” time, so that all the events of the last thirty years or so actually took place in about ten.

So, then, Batman (Earth-2) did die. And since he wasn’t the “main” Batman anymore, that’s why his death didn’t generate much publicity. Correct?

BTW, does this mean that, for the most part, most of the events in the DC comics of the 40s didn’t happen (from the official DC perspective)?

Zev Steinhardt

The Crisis on Infinite Earths series was anticipated by another series of the early eighties, named All-Star Squadron. This series’ name is a tribue to All-Star Comics, a DC series of the 1970s which had been reprinting some of their wartime material. The first issue All-Star Squadron is set in December, 1941.

The basic premise is that all American super-heroes (or “mystery men”, since the phrase “superhero” wasn’t actually coined at the time) would be mobilized as the U.S. enters WW2. Basically, it was a chance to dust off characters that DC had created (or bought from Quality and Fawcett) during the boom of the 1940s, but not used in decades. The seven primary members were Liberty Belle, Johnny Quick, Robotman, Hawkman, the Atom, Dr. Mid-Nite and Plastic-Man. Some of these characters had remained popular, but most had been forgotten. The cover of the first issue showsHawkman, Dr. Midnite and the Atom poring over a pile of photographs of almost every character DC had or bought in the 1940s.

During the series’s run, DC brought in virtually every character that appeared in the 1940s, along with a few (like Amazing-Man) who were created specifically for All-Star Squadron. This reinforced the whole “Earth-2” concept, since Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and similar characters were appearing, wearing their 1940s-style costumes.

In a late issue, shortly before the series ended (or at least around the time I stopped buying it), there were crossovers to the ongoing “Crisis on Infinite Earths” and a major 'time shift" that suddenly rewrote history. The story is interesting because it starts with a group photo of all the mystery men, Superman in the center, and ends (afer the shift) with FDR looking at the same photo, only with a character named “Uncle Sam” in the center and mnumerous other changes. It was with this issue in a series that was soon cancelled that DC truly abandoned the whole “Earth-2” idea, and wrote off the wartime versions of their three most popular characters (among others): Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman. The original Flash and Green Lantern were kept, though with origins altered slightly to mesh with their 1980s counterparts. Roy Thomas, writer of All-Star Squadron, discusses the project here.

I’m not sure if the “Crisis” had to be done, but DC still weasels out of it when they have to. Pre-Crisis characters like Krypto the Superdog and Streaky the Supercat have appeared, and Supergirl, whose death scene was famously rendered on the cover in Crisis on Infinite Earths #7, has since been recreated, with an altered origin and powers. “Earth-C” and “Earth-C+”, homes, respectively, of the Zoo Crew and the Just a’Lotta Animals (JLA) were redefined as “pocket dimensions” rather than parallel Earths, so their talking animal stories (the leaders of each group are Captain Carrot and Super Squirrel) remain untouched by the larger shakeup of the DC universe.

Overall, the Crisis was an attempt to reconcile the immense continuity errors that DC had accumulated in 50 years. They’ll never do it perfectly, but at least they tried.

Oooh. I forgot all about Captain Carrot & His Amazing Zoo Crew. :slight_smile: That’s another of the few DC series I read. I hadn’t considered them as part of the “DC multiverse,” but that was just out of my ignorance of DC comics in general.

Zev Steinhardt

Ok, the Earth-1, Earth-2 thing has been answered pretty thoroughly. (although it’s nowhere near as confusing as it soundes: There were only 3 or 4 Earths that were used with any regularity (1,2,3, & S…prior to the Crisis, X and Prime had only shown up two or three times and no-one much cared about them)

A quick guide:
(Assumes the comic was published before 1985)
Earth-1: Where most books took place. Superman’s young, Batman’s alive, Kid Flash is running around, GL belongs to the GL Corps, Hawkman’s an alien, has the JLA. Also, the Legion of Super Heros is on Earth 1

Earth-2: The books published in the forties generally took place here. Superman’s old, Batman’s dead, Robin is grown up and has a dumb Batman-esque costume, The Huntress (Batman’s daughter) is here, you’ll see Sandman, Wildcat, Dr. Fate, Hourman. Flash is old and has a bowl on his head, Hawkman’s a reincarnated Egyptian prince, Green Lantern’s powers are magical. The JSA is here.

Earth-3: Everyone good on Earth-1 is evil on Earth-3. Look for Ultraman, Superwoman, Power Ring. The “JLA” is called “The Crime Syndicate”

Earth-S: The Marvel Family (“Shazam!”; Bulletman/Bulletgirl, Spy Smasher, Ibis

Earth-X; Nazis won World War 2. Uncle Sam, The Ray, Phantom Lady, The Human Bomb.

Earth-Prime: Originally here. The real world. Us. You and Me. Later screwed up by Gerry (how did he get a job in comics?) Conway into just another world where Superheros never showed up. Until just before the Crisis. Then they got Ultra and a Superboy.
In answer to the Batman question, there was a series called Adventure Comics: it was DC’s oldest book, and in the late 80s was an anthology title. In a JSA story, in one of the worst stories ever, a nobody badguy (Joe Bankrobber type) got cosmic powers and snuffed Batman Earth-2.

A lot of the purpose of the AMERICA vs THE JSA series was to undo that story.


But that was not changed in America vs. The Justice Society. Batman was still dead.

Zev Steinhardt

So what’s Bizarro World? Is that Earth-3?

Has this thread just set a record for the largest number of simul-posts?

Earth-1. Just another planet in that universe.

Zev: True, Batman was still dead, but in AMERICA VS JSA, Batman says he had cancer and was about to die anyway and the no-name loser with magic powers didn’t really kill a strong, healthy Batman. At the time, lots of fans were outraged that Batman died such a stupid death. This gave him back some dignity.

Chronos: The Bizarro-World was a backup in Adventure Comics and took place in Earth-1’s universe. !iT AM LOADS OF FUN !tHAT MAKE ME CRY

Superman E2 and Ultraman (E3) never had Bizarro duplicates.
Which leads into a factoid: the easiest way to tell if a given Superman story features Superman E1 from Superman E2 is to look at the bad-guys. Luthor in the actual comic books (regardless of retcons to the contraray) was bald within a couple of years on E2, so you can’t judge a given issue/reprint by Luthor’s hairyness. (Similarly, it became The Daily Planet early on, despite being set on E2.)

However, only Superman E1 fought Terra Man, Brainiac, the Kryptonite Man and Bizarro. Only Superman E2 fought The Ultra-Humanite.

They both had Pranksters, Trickesters, Myxtzptlks (sp), but the Earth-1 version is spelled differently, has hair and is called Mr. Myxtzptlk. He’s also meaner. The E2 version is sort of a Bob Clampett Daffy Duck esque character.


No, not exactly. A lot of the events did happen, but probably not with the involvement of Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman. Since the 1980s DC has gotten into a habit of repeatedly changing its continuity, so these things are probably rewritten over and over again. To really know all the details, you’d have to keep up with the issues, which I quit doing about 10 years or more ago.