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Off My Mind: Parallel Worlds in the "New 52"

Are there still 52 different worlds and is it a good idea to use them now?

Things are finally settling down in the DC Universe. Since September, we've been reading about the familiar and new versions of the heroes in the DCU. There has been a lot of focus on allowing each character to be developed individually but now we're starting to see more crossovers between the different characters.

The idea of the "New 52" was to have a fresh start without completely rewriting everything that was already established in the last few decades. New readers are now getting used to who these characters are and the same can be said, in some cases, for long time readers as we're seeing the new interactions unfold.

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In May we'll be seeing EARTH TWO, a series focusing on familiar heroes from a parallel world. These won't necessarily be the same version of heroes that has been established. Heroes from parallel worlds are popping up in other titles as well. This leads to the questions of will this make sense for new readers and do we have 52 parallel worlds or are we back to an infinite number?

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EARTH TWO was first announced as a title for the Justice Society of America. Heroes such as Jay Garrick, Alan Scott, Wildcat and others have been absent from the "New 52" Universe. Somewhere along the way to the release date of the title being announced, the name was changed to focus on the fact that this is a different "Earth.'

Power Girl hasn't been seen but Karen Star was in the pages of MISTER TERRIFIC. There hasn't been any mention of Donna Troy but it appears she could be on the cover to EARTH TWO #1 (along with Superboy dressed as Superman and Dick Grayson dressed as Batman).

There has been debate over whether or not the HUNTRESS mini-series by Paul Levitz and Marcus To took place in the "New 52" universe or on Earth Two. We've been told there would be a connection between that book, JSA and BIRDS OF PREY.

Another title announced for May, WORLD'S FINEST, will include Power Girl and Huntress, from Earth Two, on the "New 52" Earth, trying to find their way back home. That won't be confusing for new and old readers, right?

Earth Two isn't the only parallel worlds we'll be hearing from. In ACTION COMICS #9, Grant Morrison will be showing us some other parallel worlds as well.

Featuring characters from parallel Earths, including PRESIDENT SUPERMAN! Guest artist GENE HA joins GRANT MORRISON for this tale of not one, not two, but THREE Earths! And in the backup story, President Superman must stop a nuclear attack – but he can’t leave the White House!
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President Superman was seen in FINAL CRISIS #7 (also by Grant Morrison). We didn't get to see a lot of President Superman in FINAL CRISIS. It's always fun to visit parallel worlds to see the different variations of familiar characters but putting them in actual ongoing issues could be a problem.

This is why DC created the Elseworlds concept, telling "What If" stories on separate, parallel worlds. But having parallel worlds and the characters mix with the core characters can cause confusion.

Crisis on Infinite Earths was created to clean up the multiverse in DC Comics. We were left with just one universe. Then years later, this started to unwind. After other "crises" came and then we were left with 52 different "Earths."

With "The New 52," not only do we not know full details on the histories of the characters in the current books. We also don't know details on the entire universe. We don't know what the status is anymore.

Back in October, co-publisher Dan DiDio suggested that Crisis on Infinite Earths might not have happened now.

Yes, there have been “crisis” in our characters lives, but they aren’t exactly the Crisis you read before, they can’t be. Now, what this means for characters seen and unseen……

With Flashpoint, there was mention of three timelines becoming one again.

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We know the Wildstorm (Earth-50) and Vertigo (Earth-13) worlds have been combined. Does that mean there are now only fifty "Earths" or has two other variations taken their place? Then again, we could be back to an infinite number in the Multiverse.

Now imagine trying to explain all of that to new readers. They might be familiar with the idea from shows like Star Trek, Sliders, Fringe and even Lost but when it comes to superhero characters with loads of history, introducing variations of those might be too much. We're still waiting to see a reappearance from Pandora, the mysterious pink lady (seen above) in FLASHPOINT and all the #1s in the "New 52" issues. Most likely when she does show up again, it's going to be even messier than it already is.