Monday, November 19, 2007

Musings about Multiple Earths

Matthew at Legion Abstract got me thinking about Earth-2 again. A while back I proposed some theories about placing all of the different Legions into a coherent continuity such that nobody is upset about "their" Legion being left out. Well, of course I was mostly wrong, but that won't stop me from looking at it again with fresh eyes and the benefit of having read Infinite Crisis and 52.

So, to recap:

  1. Superboy of Earth-1 joined the Legion, which was from the future of Earth-1. We'll call this the Earth-1 Legion.
  2. Post-Crisis, Superboy was from the Pocket Universe and there was only a single Earth (let's call it Earth-Sigma, from the engineering notation where the Greek letter sigma means "summation"). The Legion was from the future of Earth-Sigma. Superboy later died.
  3. Post Mordruverse, the Legion was created never knowing about Superboy, who did not exist because Superman never had a career as Superboy (just like Earth-2). This Legion was very similar to the Earth-1 Legion, with some heroes the same and some changed (analogous to the Justice Society of Earth-2 and the Justice League of Earth-1). Let's call this one the Earth-2 Legion for now.
  4. Post Zero Hour, there was a new Legion with some characters the same as the previous version, but with a completely different history for them and for the Legion. Let's call this one the Earth-5 Legion for now.
  5. As a result of the Infinite Crisis, the multiverse returned, and a new Legion came into being. In this future, the stories of Earth-1 appeared in comic books that survived 1000 years (just as Barry Allen on Earth-1 read the comics adventures of Jay Garrick on Earth-2). Let's call this one the Earth-4 Legion.

In putting this together, I realized that in order to make it all work, I had to posit a Law, which I'll call the Legion Law, that went into effect at the time of the original Crisis. And that is: since the Crisis, you can't visit your own planet's past or future if you try to go too far.

First, we also have the Lightning Saga Legion to worry about. As far as we know, Superboy was a member, and he lost contact with the team after the Crisis. With the exception of the Pocket Universe/Death of Superboy story in v3, pretty much all of the post-Crisis stories can still stay if we assume that Superboy just wasn't there (OK, the Conspiracy story needs work too). Everything up to the Mordruverse reboot should be able to stay in this timeline (which unfortunately means Black Dawn too). There's nothing (yet) that says that the Lightning Saga Legion couldn't be the same Legion that we stopped reading about at that point. So for purposes of this essay (as of today), the Lightning Saga Legion follows sometime after LSH v4 #4. That keeps the Earth-1 timeline more or less intact. Superman (as the younger Superboy) was a member of this team.

During the Crisis, the Monitor and Anti-Monitor thought that there was but one Earth (Earth-Sigma), but due to reasons unknown, they couldn't see the others behind the dimensional walls. Early in v4, rather than rebooting the universe, Mon-el and the Time Trapper merely sent us looking at a totally different timeline, that of Earth-2. When the v4 Legion crossed over with the then-current (pre-Zero Hour) timeline, it was really the Earth-2 Legion travelling to Earth-Sigma, though nobody realized the dimensional barriers were still there, and each thought their Earth was the only one. The new multiverse was revealed, not created. Now, in the new multiverse, we have an Earth-2 which (at least according to "52" #52) resembles the Earth-2 of old, with an older Superman, a Power Girl, a Helena Wayne Huntress, and a JSA. This Earth's future was never revealed, so who's to say that the v4-era Legion was not the Legion of Earth-2? We just don't know what happened to them after Zero Hour.

The Zero Hour event merely shifted the dimensional walls, so that the future of Earth-Sigma now appeared to be that of the post-Zero Hour Legion, when in actuality it was just the future of Earth-5. (I use Earth-5 here because that Legion had Thunder as a member, and the "Shazam Family", who used to be from Earth-S, in the multiverse is now from Earth-5. Notice the S/5 similarity?). The barriers of time prevented time travel within the same Earth's timeline, so that you could only go from Earth-Sigma's present to Earth 5's future, and vice versa. The next version of Superboy, Kon-el, was a member of this team.

Post Infinite Crisis, we have another Earth, one in which the heroes of today were only comic book characters. There was no Superman or Batman, just fiction. The dimensional barriers that fell during the Infinite Crisis revealed this Earth, and the Supergirl of Earth-Sigma (now called New Earth) travelled to the future of a different Earth. We can call it the Earth-4 Legion, which is where the Charlton heroes live in their pre-Crisis versions.

So now we have a multiverse. We've got Earths 1, 2, 4, and 5 (reserving Earth-3 for the evil Legion who encountered Superboy in "Smallvile"), each with their own Legion.
  • Earth-1's Legion was last seen in LSH v4 #4, right before the Mordruverse reboot. Their history between then and the Lightning Saga is as yet unrevealed (but which includes the resurrection of Karate Kid).
  • Earth-2's Legion was last seen at Zero Hour.
  • Earth-4's Legion is currently being seen in LSH v5.
  • Earth-5's Legion was last seen prior to Infinite Crisis, with a quick stop on Earth-247 which no longer exists.

And the current New Earth (formerly known as Earth-Sigma)? We don't know what their Legion is like, since you can't travel too far into your own future. But we do have a "Legion of Three Worlds" coming up soon.

We need Rip Hunter (and Booster Gold) to sort this out. Three characters who co-existed (Superman, Kon-el, and Supergirl) were members of three different versions of the Legion, and several people (such as Batman) have met members of more than one Legion.

Of course, this is total speculation and only time will tell if any of it is worth the paper it's printed on.


Greybird said...

Props to Mike: That's the first correlation of all this that doesn't make my neurons bleed through my eyes.

Too many of the other net.attempts at rationalizing all this are getting convoluted, uncivil, and pointless, as I noted in more detail in this thread at the DCMBs.

Reboot said...

Is this where I point out that post-ZH Computo, after being in the present day (in bits) after LSH100, got to the 31st Century "the slow way" after Imperiex put him back together? A no-time-travel link between the post-ZH 20th-21st and 30th-31st centuries.

[There are a few others, but they're mostly minor from an LSH POV - Gathnet, The Shade, one of Kyle Rayner's statues, J'Onn J'Onzz, a replica of Jack Knight's cosmic rod, Steel's hammer, Kon-El's original jacket, and maybe a couple of others I forget offhand. C.O.M.P.U.T.O./Computo's the big one].

Michael said...

Any details that apparently don't mesh with my theory are the result of the Time Trapper. If he can take a slice of time and create a universe, he can move Computo and all those other artifacts between universes.

He knew that the Legion was going to encounter Scavenger and so he moved some items that he knew Superboy would recognize from his timeline. Or he simply moved Scavenger and his lair from one timeline to another.

He also moved Computo from Earth-Sigma to the past of Earth-5 so that the post-ZH Legion would encounter it after a thousand years.

Michael said...

Oh, and by the way, in a comment by Snell over at Matthew's Legion Abstract came up with much the same concepts as I did (only a lot shorter).

Jim Drew said...

One more vaguely active Legion to add into your mix is the Legion of Earth-22, seen in a single panel of Kingdom Come along with the Superboy and Supergirl of that world. (It's also the first appearance of XS.) It has strong parallels to the Earth-5 Legion.

(Or maybe we should just tag the Earth-5 Legion as the Earth-22 Legion instead?)

Michael said...

Nah, I'd leave the Earth-22 Legion (as seen in this panel from Kingdom Come) alone. Too many differences in membership from what had been seen - a different Timber Wolf and Umbra, a human Projectra, and a live Colossal Boy, for example. The presence of Catspaw, Dragonmage, Matter-Eater Lad, Chemical King, and Bouncing Boy can be dismissed as having joined later, but you've also got the presence of Supergirl/Matrix as well as Kon-El. Under my Legion Law, the Supergirl and Superboy of the Kingdom Come present can't go to their own future, so they must have come from somewhere else.

Reboot said...

Actually, think about it - that panel was ABOUT where Kon & Matrix had gone.

i.e., under your "Legion Law", that would have been the Earth-24 (or whatever) Legion that the younger Supers had joined, rather than -22 with other Supers.