Before I dived into stories about the Justice League I had heard briefly of multiple Earths, infinite Earths, whatever Earths. I’m far from a lazy reader, but it all sounded too convoluted to be true. Not that I doubted the person who told me about them, but it bordered on ridiculous. Once I read more of the Silver Age stories however, I knew that being goofy was certainly not any reason for not doing it.
Earth One, Earth Two, Earth Three, Earth A… Each version of the planet had its own superheroes and villains. Sometimes the superheroes of our Earth (Earth One with the Justice League) had evil versions on another Earth. The naming conventions confused me a little. For example, the Justice Society of America came first on the comics publishing timeline, more than a decade before the Justice League. Yet the Justice Society is on Earth Two, not Earth One. Why?
Confusion aside, the meet-ups between the various Earths were big hits in the Silver Age. I applaud any child that could keep up with the incredible cast of characters introduced in each issue. You had Barry-Flash and Jay-Flash (actually designated that way in the comic book), Green Lantern and Power Ring (worst name for a superhero ever), Superman and Ultraman, Atom and Atom and well, you get the idea. I’m not ashamed to admit that without the similar names and costumes, this adult would have been thrown off about who exactly was who from page to page.
Villains caused the Earths to collide for the first time. Sometimes criminals just want to spend their riches, and you can’t do that when you know you’ll be caught by your friendly local superheroes. So they found a way to hop planes and swap planets. Pretty smart, eh? All in all, it seems to me the villains of the multiple Earth series were smarter and less silly than the ones who appeared in the pages of regular Justice League issues. They were more serious rivals instead of the big, not so bright characters you face off at the end of 90s video games. I particularly liked Power Ring’s trick of planting a special code word:
The Crisis on Multiple Earths seemed to take the stories of heroes and villains in a more grown up direction. There were still goofy moments but not eye-rolling ones. At least, not for me. I mean for one thing, Snapper Carr isn’t around. All his “hipster” language made me laugh through any panels he appeared in. The stories focus on teamwork, and I feel like I’m actually getting to see characters develop instead of just characters taking action.
Maybe there is something to all these Earths.
As for volthoom? That’s the word I’m going to start using at parties when I need to be rescued from a conversation… not at parties at comic conventions though.