Tag Archives: Elseworlds

Alternate History of DC/AA Comics: Introducing Flashette

What kinds of changes are in store for the DC Universe during Flashpoint? Teasers we’ve seen so far show a world with no Earth-based Green Lantern, a very different Superman, and a Wonder Woman and Aquaman who are world leaders rather than superheroes. DC will be publishing no less than sixteen miniseries exploring this altered world, enough for an entire line of comics…which brings to mind another thought:

What might DC comics look like if they’d been publishing this alternate history all along?

It wouldn’t be the first time someone’s explored an alternate publishing history. The Marvel/DC mash-up Amalgam Comics were all labeled #1, but included editor’s notes and letters columns referring back to earlier imaginary comics.

More interestingly, Bob Rozakis published a series of articles in TwoMorrows’ Alter Ego and Back Issue magazines in which he imagined an alternate history of DC Comics, the company.

All-American Comics

Up until the mid-1940s, DC Comics was really two companies: One was DC proper, owned by Harry Donenfield. The other was All-American Comics, owned by Max Gaines, which published under the DC label. The big three characters at DC were Superman, Batman and Robin, starring in World’s Finest. The big three at All American were Wonder Woman, Green Lantern (Alan Scott) and the Flash (Jay Garrick), starring in Comic Cavalcade. (This is also why Johnny Quick exists: DC published the Flash, but didn’t actually own the character, so they wanted a speedster they owned outright.) In 1945, after a dispute led to several issues of All-American books being published under their own banner, DC bought out the entire line. A few years later, most of the All-American characters fell off the radar (with the notable exception of Wonder Woman), but DC kept publishing Superman and Batman.

By 1956, DC decided to try re-imagining some of the older characters, starting with the Flash. The result: the Silver Age explosion, including new versions of Flash (Barry Allen), Green Lantern (Hal Jordan), the Atom (Ray Palmer), etc.

What If…

For an Elseworlds story, Bob Rozakis imagined an alternate world in which instead of DC buying All-American, All-American bought DC. Flash and Green Lantern survived the end of the Golden Age, but Batman and Superman disappeared until they were re-imagined for the Silver Age.

DC rejected the story, but the ideas stuck in Rozakis’ head, and he eventually expanded them into a full alternate history — and not just an alternate story history, but an alternate publishing history, down to the way the alternate publisher might have treated his writers and artists.

Of course, part of the fun in this sort of alternate history is looking at not just what might be different, but what might be similar. So Green Lantern and the Flash not only took on the prominence of Superman and Batman, but many of the same story elements. Green Lantern introduced Kid Lantern stories instead of Superboy, and Girl Lantern instead of Supergirl. Instead of Batgirl, the Flash family expanded to include Flashette. Artist Larry Guidry provided cover art inspired by the introductions of their counterparts in the real publishing timeline.

On his blog, Rozakis lists the full set of articles:

The series appeared in ALTER EGO #s 76, 78-81, 83, 85 and 87, with a bonus chapter scheduled for #93 or #94, depending on space. [Edit: I don’t see it listed on the TOC for either book.] The second half is in BACK ISSUE #s 28 – 36, except #31.

Interview: Norm Breyfogle on the first Flashpoint

Today’s guest post is the third in a series of interviews by Greg Elias on The Art of Speed. 

With a new Flashpoint on the horizon in 2011, longtime Flash fans are likely reminded of the 2000 miniseries with the same name.  Written by Pat McGreal with art by Norm Breyfogle, the first Flashpoint was released under DC’s Elseworlds stamp in 2000.

In a world where the Flash is the only superhero, Barry Allen is paralyzed from the neck down while thwarting the assassination of John F. Kennedy.  Confined to a wheelchair, Barry becomes the leading figure in the world of space science. He also dreams of a heaven revealed to be the Speed Force, has visions of an alternate-Earth Flash career with the Justice League, and is friendly with his world’s incarnation of Vandal Savage.

Through a series of “accidents” tied to Savage’s machinations, Barry, Wally West, Ralph Dibny and the Martian Manhunter are embroiled in an attempt to keep the destructive power of the flashpoint from being unleashed on the world.

Best known for his long tenure and defining work on the Batman family of titles throughout the 1980s and 1990s, Breyfogle’s Flash resume is short but memorable. In addition to Flashpoint, he illustrated a Kid Flash/Jay Garrick story in Flash 80 Page Giant #2.

We spoke with him via email about some of the techniques used on Flashpoint.

Continue reading

Cary Bates Returns to DC with the Last Family of Krypton

Writer Cary Bates is responsible for the entire Bronze Age of the Flash, but has been missing from the DC Universe since the early 1990s. This August he returns with Superman: The Last Family of Krypton, a 3-issue Elseworlds miniseries (remember those?) about what might have happened if Jor-El and Lara had escaped Krypton along with their infant son Kal-El, and the whole family had arrived on Earth. Renato Arlem handles the art, with covers by Felipe Massafera.

This Elseworlds project, one of very few in recent years, has been in the works almost as long as Bates’ first foray into comics after a decades-long absence, the 2008 Marvel miniseries True Believers. Dan Didio mentioned it at Wizard World Chicago that same year!

What is…Flashpoint?

This week’s DC comics include a teaser for something called Flashpoint, coming in 2011 from Geoff Johns and Andy Kubert. It’s not clear whether it’s a storyline in The Flash or a separate event, but considering how Blackest Night grew from a Green Lantern/Green Lantern Corps storyline to the year’s big event, it may be too early to reach any conclusions.

Long-time Flash readers may remember that Flashpoint was also the title of an Elseworlds miniseries from 1999-2000 — the only Elseworlds tale outside his own book to focus on the Flash, in fact.

In this story, a paralyzed Barry Allen has turned his super-fast mind to scientific research and development. A mission to Mars discovers a key designed to open a gateway to (essentially) the speed force, which they call the Flashpoint, and which appears to be linked to other realities. Only one problem: the last time it was used, it destroyed all life on Mars. (Interesting side note: The current Flash logo is actually based on the Flashpoint logo, rather than the other way around!)

Back to the teaser, here’s a quick photo of the ad that I took with my phone scan of the ad from Flash #1:

Continue reading

Salute to 1990s Comics

Comics of the 1990s have gotten a bad rap. A lot of people look at them and see only the holofoil cover gimmicks, interminable summer crossovers (which are back), everyone trying to ape the Image style with humongous shoulder pads and spikes, mullets, Spider-Clones, Electric Superman, Emerald Twilight, and “kewl” revamps.

But there were also a lot of very good comics being published at the time, and everyone was trying new things. Sure, some of them didn’t work (like Bloodlines or Fate), but some of them did (like Starman). This list is going to be heavily DC, since that’s what I was reading at the time, but this is the decade that brought us: Continue reading