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Alternate Universes


By Alexandrea CallaghanPublished about a month ago 3 min read

The alternate universes used by both Marvel and DC can get quite confusing. Each one serves a different purpose and some are only used once. So how does one keep track of all of them and how do you know if the comic book you want to read is from the main continuity or not? Well we are going to talk about all of that as we explain each of the alternate universes that exist in both Marvel and DC, 1 by 1. Now let’s start with why alternate universes exist; for the most part an alternate universe is created so that a writer can explore a storyline that doesn’t connect to the main universe. Whether that means that a character is doing something uncharacteristic or they want to put them in a completely different setting. How do the writers keep track? Well the honest answer is that they don't, which, for the most part, means that you don’t have to either. But we will also talk about how to tell if something is in a different continuity.

DC - Earth One:

Okay so I think that we all know by now that both Marvel and DC have far too many alternate universes. Alternate universes are mostly used when a writer wants to explore a story that doesn’t fit into the main continuity, now at some point DC had created so many that even the writers couldn’t keep track and that is how we ended up with Crisis on Infinite Earths it was a comic that condensed all of the alternate universes that DC had created so that they could kind of reset themselves, it was never meant to be adapted and that is why ever visual representation of that story sucks ass. Anyway we are going to clarify what most of these universes are and we are going to start with DC and Earth-1.

Earth-1 was named such in Justice League of America #21 in 1963, after the Flash #123 explained how golden age characters could exist with their silver age counterparts. The Earth-1 Continuity included the silver age versions of our heroes. Earth-1 stories often crossed over with Earth-2 stories. I am going to try and keep this simple because it does get kind of complicated. Pre-Crisis Earth-1 was silver age versions of the main heroes. Post-Crisis, Earth-1 was among the alternate universes folded into one. Basically the reason we had to suffer through New 52 was because Earths 1-51 were folded into each other creating New Earth. Therefore the next iteration of continuity was New 52. The actual merging as far as continuity goes was really just between Earth-1, Earth-2, Earth-S, and Earth-X. That said, Earth-1 did receive its own comic series labeled as such so that writers could return characters to their origins as much as possible.

Marvel- Earth 6160 - The Ultimate Universe

Earth 6160 is one of the alternate universes used in Marvel comics. The main continuity is 616 and this earth is just an inverse of those numbers with a 0 to differentiate from the main continuity. The original Ultimate Marvel storyline took place starting in 2015 and was destroyed in Secret Wars. In this universe the territories of the world are broken up a little differently then we are used to. North America, Canada, Greenland, Mexico and parts of South America were known as the North American Union ruled over by Howard Stark. India, known as the Children of Eternal Light and parts of Southeast Asia and Australia known as Shadows of the Immortal Hand were ruled over by the Hulk.

The Ultimate Universe started receiving its own comics starting last year in 2023. There was a one-shot published in November simply titled Ultimate Universe, then there was a short 4 issue limited run titled Ultimate Invasion. This year there is a set of ongoing Ultimate series; Ultimate Spiderman, Ultimate Black Panther, Ultimate X-Men, and The Ultimates.

The Ultimate Universe in all of its iterations center on The Maker who is essentially the Ultimate Universe's version of Reed Richards. Used to show what could happen if Reed’s intellect and scientific drive was not purely used for good. The Maker has been used in several non-Ultimate storylines but for the most part he is the antagonist for the Ultimate Universe.

The sheer amount of alternate universes in Marvel and DC can get quite confusing. In fact I think it is one of the things that intimidates new comic book readers and maybe scares them off from diving into these universes. But I am hoping with these explanations that new fans feel a little bit better about picking up a comic and veteran fans might find new storylines that they like because they understand the universe that they take place in.

superheroespop cultureentertainmentcomics

About the Creator

Alexandrea Callaghan

Certified nerd, super geek and very proud fangirl.

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    Alexandrea CallaghanWritten by Alexandrea Callaghan

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