So 52 week 52 brought back the DC Comics multiverse, or “megaverse” as Rip Hunter wants to call it (though, really, something called the megaverse should be full of multiple versions of Judge Dredd, not of Superman). And with it came Earth-2.
Before the Crisis on Infinite Earths in 1986, I much preferred Earth-2 to Earth-1, the home of most of DC’s comics at the time. Partly, that was because DC allowed things to change there – Clark Kent had married Lois Lane, Batman had died – but a lot of the appeal was that events there had passed in real time. Superman first appeared in 1938; the Justice Society disbanded in 1951; Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle married in 1955; Power Girl met the reconstituted JSA in 1976 …
… so if Earth-2 is back, she’s aged about 50 now. I’m sure that Dan Didio will soon be issuing a memo to all DC artists reminding them to draw her accordingly.
No, that’s not going to happen, is it? Although Crisis on Infinite Earths remains the worst idea ever perpetrated in superhero comics, for its destruction of the niche ecologies in which different types and styles of story could be told, the truth is that “real-time” Earth-2 was already becoming untenable by 1986. The first generation heroes were hitting their seventies, and after 10 years of continuous Earth-2 stories, DC would soon have had to make choices about whether and how to age the second generation. And since the two most prominent of those, Power Girl and the Huntress, were good-looking women, it’s unlikely that DC would have wanted to let time have its effects.
It’ll be interesting to see how DC handles its new Earth-2. It would be nice if, contrary to its one panel to date, the new Earth-2 turned out to dominated by third-generation heroes, with the youthful Power Girl explained by some sort of time warp. But I’m betting that, instead, the 1976-1986 stories will turn out to have happened in some recent, nebulous comic-book time.
Because you can’t go home again – no matter what the speed at which your home vibrates.
Panels and pictures
52 issue 52, written by Geoff Johns, Grant Morrison, Greg Rucka and mark Waid, art breakdowns by Keith Giffen, finished art for this panel by one or more of a large crew of artists whose work I don’t know well enough to identify, letters by Ken Lopez, edited by Michael Siglain, DC Comics, May 2, 2007
Power Woman drawn by Alex Ross, from Kingdom Come: Revelations, DC Comics, 1997
Addendum (20 minutes later)
I've now seen Grant Morrison's Newsarama interview, in which he says, "And the parallel Earths you see in issue #52 are not the familiar pre-Crisis versions. If you think you recognize and know any of these worlds from before, you'd be wrong." So my post may be even more off-beam than usual.
On the other hand, Morrison also says, "Each parallel world now has its own huge new backstory and characters," whereas Geoff Johns, when asked, "Do they fit the descriptions of former earths? Or are they kind of open-ended now?", replied, "Right now, they're just out there. 52 earths. That's all. And you'll start to see them here or there, but the goal really is, like the end of the issue said, 'It's a world full of possibilities.' We don't want any rules on our stories. So let's be able to tell stories of all sorts of different things."
Morrison also demands, "And no crossovers! Each of the parallel universes should exist in its own separate stream with no contact from the others - not until we have a story worthy of bringing them together." Countdown seems to have contradicted that within a week.
So who knows?