What’s up with Earth-D?

On October 15th, 2014, /u/switchfade asked the following on /r/DCcomics:

Can someone help me? I’m trying to read about earth D! I found the concept amazing but I have no idea how to find out more

1938279-flash___justice_alliance

DC history nerd here! I think I can probably help :)

First we need to go way way back to the 60’s. The decision to explain how the the 1940’s Flash (Jay Garrick, the guy with the metal hat) and the new Flash (Barry Allen) could both exist was to say they existed on parrallel Earths, and the two finally met in the seminal story Flash of Two Worlds (1961). This lead to the establishment of Earth-One, where the modern characters lived, and Earth-Two, where Jay Garrick and the Justice Society hung out. The JLA and the JSA the had annual adventures where they’d team up for, basically, the next two decades.

Marv Wolfman, 1982. Writer of Crisis on Infinite Earths and champion of diversity and great beards.

The problem, for DC and, as they saw it, new readers, was that they didn’t stop there. There weren’t just two earths, there were infinite, and we started seeing more and more of them. Earth-Three was home to the evil versions of Ultraman, Super Woman, Owlman etc, Earth-S was home to the Marvel Family, Earth-X was a world where World War II never ended… you get the idea. DC felt that by the 80s this had just got too out of control and wanted to simplify it. Hence the Crisis on Infinite Earths (1985) – which destroyed most Earths, and merged the remaining ones like Earth-Two, S and X into one single continuity.

Fun Flash Fact: We’re going to jump around a bit here from pre-Crisis, post-Crisis and post-Flashpoint, and I thought it worth pointing out a little thing with the way Earths are written. Prior to Crisis on Infinite Earths, Earths were written as words instead of numbers, Earth-Two. When the Multiverse was recreated at the end of the weekly series 52 following Infinite Crisis the naming changed to numbers, like Earth-2. Finally, with the new Earths we’re seeing in the New 52 we’ve dropped the hyphen altogether, so just calling it Earth 2. Not everybody sticks to the convention, but it can make it much easier to keep it all sorted :)

Anyway, back to the tale.

Why have I skipped to Crisis on Infinite Earths when, as I said, all these extra worlds were destroyed? Well, it’s because we didn’t get to explore the pre-Crisis world of Earth-D – D for ‘Diversity’ – until well after. The story goes that Crisis on Infinite Earths writer Marv Wolfman believed that this is what the DC Universe should have been after the Crisis, with the heroes becoming much more culturally diverse and multi-racial, but that, as we know, didn’t happen. Flash forward to February 1999, 14 years later, and we get a special called Legends of the DC Universe: Crisis on Infinite Earths #1 written, you guessed it, by Marv Wolfman, set during the original crisis but taking place on Earth-D. From the wiki:

Earth-D was the designation for an Earth, and the Universe it inhabited, that existed prior to the Crisis on Infinite Earths.

Earth-D was very similar to Earth-One and had a Silver Age “feel”. This universe have its own super-hero analogues to Earth-One, only except they are more ethnically diverse. For example an Asian version of the Flash, a black Superman, and an Native American Green Arrow. This universe have its preeminent super-team, the Justice Alliance of America.

They were really great characters for a one-shot.

Oh yeah, and Batman and Robin are father and son. For some reason.

Continuity wise, the story takes place between Crisis On Infinite Earths #4 and #5, and concerns the Japanese Flash of Earth-D, Tanaka Rei, meeting Barry Allen. With Earth-D under attack by the Shadow Demons that were everywhere Crisis on Infinite Earths, Barry called in the Justice League and Tanaka Rei called the Justice Alliance.

I won’t spoil any more though as, sadly, this is the only story to feature Earth-D, but suffice it to say, things don’t go terribly well for the Earth-D heroes. To touch on the differences though:

  • Superman – A black Kryptonian known as Kal-El, and married to…
  • Supergirl – A black Kryptonian known as Kara
  • Wonder Woman – Never stated but has a Middle Eastern appearance
  • Green Lantern – A Brazillian man called José Hernandez
  • Green Arrow – a native American
  • Batman – still white, but married and Robin is his son.

I could keep going, but this blog post, ‘Earth D-lightful’, is actually a good read on the different characters in the story, focused on the diversity element. Naturally, there are spoilers you may care about if you want to go into the story fresh. :)

So that’s it? Only one story set on a world that was destroyed 14 years prior??

President Superman

Yep, pretty much. However, when speaking about the DC Multiverse and diversity, it’s worth talking about Earth-23, and it’s black Superman, who also happens to be President of the United States, Kalel. Known as Calvin Ellis in his secret identity, we get this description from DC’s interactive map of the multiverse:

When Jorel and Lara of the dying planet Krypton sent their son, Kalel, to Earth, he not only would grow up to become Earth-23’s greatest hero, he’d become one of the world’s political leaders, as well. Secretly disguised as United States President Calvin Ellis, Kalel helps to maintain world peace as Superman, and in the process has inspired a generation of young black super heroes to rise up and join him.

Nubia. The Guardian. Vixen. Green Lantern. Black Lightning. Mister Miracle. Some of these heroes can also be found on Earth-0, while some are reflections of other more familiar heroes—and others are entirely unique. Yet while they may look and act differently, Earth-23’s heroes share one core similarity with our own and that of many of the Multiverse’s other heroes. Whether alone or as part of the Justice League, their names inspire hope and the promise of a better future to the men and women of Earth-23.

Funnily enough, he actually existed before the Flashpoint reboot in the post-Infinite Crisis/52 continuity because we saw him in Final Crisis, although from memory the Earth he’s from is never named. From the wiki:

During the Final Crisis, this Superman was recruited by the Supermen of the Multiverse to help battle the vampire god Mandrakk, and later helped to stabilize conditions on New Earth.

Grant Morrison then brought him back for a single issue of Action Comics #9 for two stories called The Curse of Superman and Executive Power which goes to setting up the ‘Superdoom’ arc he was building in that comic. We also meet a black Wonder Woman analog called Nubia, along with the rest of the Earth 23 Justice League, including Batman, Cyborg, Green Lantern, Steel, Vixen, Guardian – most of whom are black.

Finally, Kalel shows up again as a main character in Multiversity #1, and it looks like he’ll be important to the plot as that series goes forward. We also get another cameo of his version of the Justice League before he jumps into the story to join the heroes from all the different Earths.

Are you reading Multiversity? You should be reading Multiversity.

Hope this helps, and happy to answer any further questions or clarifications :)

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