A couple of years back, the 52 Earths of the DC Multiverse (as established by writer Grant Morrison) were pushed aside for an Omniverse (a multiverse of multiverses) in the conclusion of writer Scott Snyder's Dark Nights: Death Metal that launched the publisher's Infinite Frontier editorial era.
The "Omniverse" term and the somewhat headache-inducing concept of multiple multiverses haven't really taken root, but the publisher is using writer Joshua William's almost-concluded Dark Crisis on Infinite Earths (the final goes on sale December 20) as a vehicle to expand the known DC Multiverse.
And December 13's Dark Crisis: Big Bang is doing the yeoman's work of cataloging the newer, bigger Multiverse.
Newsarama has already spoken to writer Mark Waid and artist Dan Jurgens about the story, which finds Barry Allen and Kid Flash Wallace West battling original Crisis on Infinite Earths villain the Anti-Monitor across dozens of Earths in the Multiverse, joined by the heroic inhabitants of those Earths.
And no offense to Waid and Jurgens, but the real fun for hardcore DC readers might be a couple of pages in the rear of the book under the guise of 'From the Notes of Barry Allen' that assigns numbered Earth designations to many new additions to the Multiverse, both filling in some of the 52 Earth's Morrison never did on their version of the Map and greatly expanding upon the numbers, with some interesting additions.
Newer stories like DC Bombshells (Earth-24), the world of ABC's Tom Strong (Earth-25), The Jurassic League (Earth-27), DC Mech (Earth-28), and the video game and comic book world of Injustice (Earth-49) are some of the more recent stories-formerly-known-as-Elseworlds that now officially inhabit the DC Multiversal Universe or DCMU (we tried DCU Multiverse but the acronym was a non-starter).
DCeased (Earth-55), DC vs. Vampires (Earth-63), Dark Knights of Steel (Earth-118), and JLA: The Nail (Earth-898) similarly get added with higher designations.
Many other of the new Earths are inspired by DC Golden and Silver Age one-off and 'imaginary stories,' with their designation corresponding to an original issue number like Earth-216, home of Batman and Superman Jr. (the 'Super Sons' predecessors to today's Jon and Damian) from 1973's World's Finest Comics #215. We don't know why there is a one-digit differential.
And then there's Earth-162, based on 1963's Superman #162, which featured Superman splitting himself into a Red and Blue Superman.
That story inspired the 1998 storyline and now seems to be inspiring another new modern take. In his interview, Waid told Newsarama he can't wait to someday tell the story of Batman Gray and Batman Blue, seen in the pages of Dark Crisis: Big Bang, implying the story will be told in the pages of his own Batman/Superman: World's Finest ongoing series, a title he tells us he intends to stay on "till I die."
Modern YA graphic novels from the worlds of Green Lantern: Legacy (Earth-98) and Teen Titans: Raven (Earth-100) join the fun, as does the world of the animated TV series and graphic novels DC Super Hero Girls (Earth-96).
We frankly don't know what the world of Earth-46 is. A "grim young Batman with a unique, unrecognizable rogues' gallery' from "Batman: The Gargoyle of Gotham" doesn't ring a bell, but we couldn't help but think of the possible mid-2023 event 'Knight Terrors' since a Google search turns up nothing but a reference to an obscure in-continuity Batman story from 1992.
And we also can't tell you why the smart primate world (ala the ape Justice League) of Earth-53 has been redesignated to Earth-52 and no replacement Earth-53 was named.
The world of Batman '66 (Earth-66, of course, the Adam West Batman) officially joins the DC Multiverse with what should be the Emmy Award-winning copy "Batman and Robin face exceptionally benign supervillains," and what appears to be to the best of our interpretation the pre-Crisis Earth-One is back as Earth-1956.
The Milestone Dakotaverse is Earth-93 and the DC-Marvel crossover Amalgam universe gets designated Earth-1996 for the nutty year it was published but without actually mentioning Marvel, of course.
Finally, in what almost slipped our attention, DC seems to have established an Earth that merges the Superman movies of the '70s and '80s (along with 1984's Supergirl) with the Batman films of the late '80s and '90s. Called Earth-789, it's a hybrid of Superman '78 and Batman '89.
DC did crossover Batman '66 with Lynda Carter's Wonder Woman '77, but we can't find a melding of the Christopher Reeve Superman and Michael Keaton Batman on record so unless we're mistaken, this is news.
Readers can check out the entire Barry Allen Multiverse field guide in Dark Crisis: Big Bang, or below. And study it real close, because something in it will pay off in the coming weeks or months…" at least according to Waid.
"There's one big hint about something that actually doesn't involve me or Dan, that came from editorial as a suggestion," he tells DC readers via Newsarama. "I won't go into detail, but I think if you read that list carefully, you'll see a hint toward something that must be in our near future."
Dark Crisis: Big Bang #1 went on sale December 13.
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