To say that the DC Multiverse is complex would be an understatement. It can be pretty confusing to the first-timer. Even most experts end up debating over continuity and what is considered canon. So, let’s get started on what you should know about the DC Multiverse!
What is the Multiverse?
The Multiverse is a way to incorporate all the different versions and stories of superheroes in the DC comics. (Marvel has one too!) The Multiverse is split into several different versions of Earth. Basically, for different stories the creators told of heroes where the continuity didn’t match up, different versions of Earth were also created. These Earths are still connected and sometimes interact with each other, depending on the story.
Here are a few examples of the different Earths. There’s Earth-0 which is the main timeline that has our most familiar heroes, Earth-3 where the heroes are the villains and vice versa, Earth-31 where everything takes place in a post-apocalyptic, flooded Earth, Earth-11 where genders are switched, Earth-30 where Superman is Communist (yep that actually happened), and the list goes on.
The creation of the Multiverse was basically a way for comic writers to get a little creative with their superheroes, the setting, the origins, etc., but still connect it all, loosely.
We have many of the timelines in this multiverse on our DC Multiverse page.
This is where things can get a little hairy, so hang on tight, and let’s start at the beginning.
The idea of the Multiverse started back in the Golden Age of comics. In one Wonder Woman arc she comes across herself from an alternate dimension. DC has never been a stranger to the idea of alternate worlds and dimensions. However, it isn’t until the Silver Age that the Multiverse concept was solidified with the stories Crisis on Earth-One and Crisis on Earth-Two.
As stories progressed, continuity issues began to rise. To help combat those issues, the creators came up with the Crisis on Infinite Earth arc, in which the different universes collided. The end of this story arc left most of the Multiverse destroyed except for 5 Earths. These universes then combined to form one universe that had one continuity.
But that didn’t last. The need for different universes and timelines kept popping up as new stories were told and retold, which ended up throwing off the new continuity.
In 2005, the Infinite Crisis story arc brings back the Multiverse briefly where the universe was “splintered.” The conclusion of that story arc created a new Multiverse with 52 Earths. This started up the 52 reboot, which is the most current version of the DC Multiverse.
Confused? Here’s the basic thing to remember: the DC Multiverse has more or less existed since DC was created. Creators have built up, broken down, destroyed, brought back, and combined the timelines multiple times. Currently, the latest version of the Multiverse consists of 52 earths, as part of the new 52 reboot series. However, a recent story arc called Convergence reintroduced the idea that there’s still a much wider multiverse than just these 52 earths.
Where to start
There are a few places to start, and it depends on what you’re looking for from DC. If you want to start at the beginning, a good place would be the Crisis on Earth-One and Crisis on Earth-Two story arcs. These are the stories that solidified the idea of the Multiverse. They brought together the Justice League of America and the Justice Society of America. You could then go on to Crisis on Infinite Earths where the Multiverse died but then came back.
Another place could be the Infinite Crisis arc, since it brings the whole multiverse together and then breaks it again. This is a great place to start if you just want to read the latest stuff from DC. The conclusion to this story arc brings the new 52 reboot, which is the most recent version of the Multiverse.
Regardless of where you start in the DC Multiverse, you won’t be short of content to read. DC is telling so many different stories in various genres and styles. So, whether you want to catch up on your favorite DC hero’s story, or you want to discover a more obscure hero, the DC Multiverse has something for you.
As always, check out our DC Comics timelines to learn more about the DC Multiverse and the many stories found therein.