One thing I like about the CW “Arrowverse” is that the producers of Arrow, Flash, Supergirl and Legends of Tomorrow decided to incorporate, with some changes, the old DC Comics multiverse when it would have been easy enough to just have all the shows take place in the same television universe.
Sure, it’d be harder to explain, in-universe, why Supergirl doesn’t show up in either Star City or Central City more often, but then but by that same logic we’d have to wonder why the Flash can’t take a few minutes out of his day to help out in Star City.
Anyway, as I’ve said before, my first encounter with the DC multiverse was in 1979 when I read Adventures Comics #462 in which the original (Earth-2) Batman died.
To the best of my recollection, I next encountered the “golden age” heroes of Earth-2 in 1981, in a three-part storyline in Justice League of America #s 195-197 in which the JLA of Earth-1 once again teamed up with the Justice Society of America of Earth-2.
I thought I’d revisit it.
The Earth-1 villains Killer Frost, Signalman, Cheetah and the Floronic Man join forces with the Earth-2 villains the Monocle, Psycho Pirate, Rag Doll, the Mist and Brainwave— all led by the Ultra-Humanite— to defeat the JLA members Atom, Batman, Black Canary, Firestorm and Wonder Woman and JSA members Flash, Hawkman, Hourman, Johnny Thunder and Superman.
Ultra has a plan that centers around the elimination of those 10 heroes from the multiverse.
There’s no chance he could be lying, is there?
Of course he is. He knows full well the Earth-2 heroes will vanish. When the Earth-1 villains realize they’ve been tricked, they’re not at all happy. They might even go so far as to free the imprisoned heroes.
Or at least try.
The Ultra-Humanite, who first appeared in Action Comics #13 in 1939, is a recurring foe of the Earth-2 Superman who’s transferred his brain into multiple bodies over the years. At this point, it occupies a huge, white gorilla.
In his first appearance, the Ultra-Humanite was depicted as a bald (or balding, depending on how he was drawn) genius. More on that in a bit.
But first, why do the heroes and villains of the 30s and 40s, the original ones from a publishing point of view, live on Earth-2?
In DC Comics Presents Annual #1 (1982), Lex Luthor of Earth 1 and Alexi Luthor of Earth 2 join forces. At one point, they travel to Earth 3, where the analogues of all the heroes are villains. Lex explains who they are and where they’re from to Ultraman, the analogue of Superman on that Earth.
In the comics, the Earth-1 Flash, Barry Allen, accidentally crossed the dimensional barrier and met Jay Garrick, thus Barry lives on Earth-1 and Jay on Earth-2 because of the order of discovery. By that same logic, since “Jay Garrick” crossed over from his Earth in the Flash TV series in season 2, shouldn’t his world actually be called Earth-1?
I get calling Supergirl’s home Earth-38 because Superman first appeared in 1938 (and without him she wouldn’t exist, either) and the Flash of the 1990 TV series coming from Earth-90, but it’s curious how various characters from different Earths all seem to agree that Barry, Oliver and the Legends live on Earth-1. Even Breacher (Danny Trejo) the bounty hunter father of Gypsy (Jessica Camacho), who has been aware of the multiverse for decades, calls the home of Team Flash Earth-1. From his point of view, shouldn’t his own world of Earth-19 have better claim to that title?
It’s a minor point, but I somewhat wish there’d be an in-universe explanation as to how pretty much everyone agrees that Earth-1 is Earth-1.
Of course, the real world explanation is that the action in most of the “Arrowverse” TV shows take place on that Earth.
On that note, I enjoyed the second and third parts of the “Elseworlds” trilogy from a few weeks ago. It would have been nice if there’d been a quiet moment for the Barry Allen of Earth-1 and the Barry Allen of Earth-90 to have a brief conversation, but it could still happen in next year’s “Crisis on Infinite Earths” storyline.
No, I don’t believe the Monitor killed the Earth-90 Flash. He disappeared in the same type of puff of smoke that teleported Supergirl a few feet. I think the Monitor just sent him far away.
It was amusing (and a bit meta) for Oliver to insist that Batman is a myth created by the Gotham City police department and to emphasize that he is the original vigilante. On the one hand, that’s true; Arrow was the first of these shows to air (which is why it’s called the Arrowverse), but in the comics Green Arrow was seen for years as a pale imitation of Batman.
I also liked seeing Supergirl and Batwoman work together, albeit briefly, and their mutual acknowledgement that a team up would be the worlds’ finest.
And it turns out John Diggle is a green lantern on Earth-90. Given how he’s handled so much else related to superheroes and metahumans, how would the Earth-1 Diggle react to receiving a power ring?
But getting back to the comics, I mentioned the Ultra-Humanite’s first appearance. This what he originally looked like:
In his earliest appearances, Luthor had red hair. Later, he became bald, but once the multiverse was established, the Earth-2 Luthor retained his hair while the Earth-1 Luthor didn’t.
It’s generally believed that an artist confused the Ultra-Humanite with Luthor and Lex suddenly lost his hair. As you can see, there is a bit of a resemblance.
In his 2001 Elseworlds story Superman & Batman: Generations II, writer and artist John Byrne established that the man Superman thought was Lex Luthor was really the Ultra Humanite in Luthor’s body, essentially making the two characters the same.
That tale, and the one before it, imagined Superman and Batman appearing on the scene in 1938 and 1939, respectively and aging in real time.
I’ve always enjoyed the DC multiverse and am glad it lives on in TV’s “Arrowverse.”
Copyright 2018 Patrick Keating.