The Return of Earth 2
Now that Kepler 452b has been identified as a possible match to Earth, it has brought up the age old discussion of ‘are we truly alone in the universe?’ I myself feel it would be rather greedy to believe that we are the only inhabitants of a universe we have no idea is finite or indeed infinite.
There have been many theories about multiple planets scattered throughout the universe (and in some instances occupying our space by vibrating at a different wavelength). This theory was first propounded by Hugh Everett III in 1935 who is credited as the first physicist who proposed the many worlds interpretation (MWI) of quantum physics which Everett termed his ’relative state formulation’ in 1957. This theory was later changed to ‘many-worlds’ by Bryce Seligman DeWitt during the 60’s and 70’s.
Time and again in books and movies, the alternate reality has been explored. Right back to my childhood I was glued to the T.V. screen with a short-lived series, ‘The Fantastic Journey’ (not to be confused with The Fantastic Voyage with Raquel Welch). The premise was a scientific expedition in the Atlantic Ocean becomes lost in the Bermuda Triangle and washes up on an uncharted island. They meet travellers from other times, planets and dimensions who have also become trapped, and together they ‘slide’ through portals from one dimension to the next, hoping to find the one that leads home.
At the same time I was starting to read DC Comics. It wasn’t long before I was introduced to the Justice Society of America from Earth Two who appeared for their annual meeting with the Justice League of America. (This storyline had the original Mr. Terrific murdered on the JLA satellite). DC had harnessed some of the theories expounded by Everett and others about alternate realities where the same people in different realities would make different choices. When the JSA was first introduced in the 1940’s, the concept of multiple earths was in its infancy. As heroes got new makeovers, the idea of an ‘older’ Earth 2 allowed those from the original JSA to still play their part in the DC Universe rather than be written out altogether.
Not content with just an Earth 2, like the proverbial snowball, DC expanded and expanded the DC Universe. Earth Prime was our world, a world without superheroes and Earth 3 housed the Crime Syndicate of America where evil counterparts of Earth’s heroes ruled. Earth X had the Freedom Fighters in a world where the Nazi’s had won the Second World War. All these worlds were similar but with a slight twist, taking a different path to our own history.
Then in the late 1980’s there was Crisis on Infinite Earths where Marv Wolfman and George Perez (to my mind the ‘other’ dynamic duo at DC), along with many other artists and inkers, destroyed world after world. DC felt as though their universe had got too big to maintain and needed to be brought under control. With that directive, Perez and Wolfman assimilated the remaining five worlds into one. Some of the heroes from Earth 2 were now surplus to requirements, totally displaced. The world they had known now gone. This was an amazing time for any comic fan. This storyline was HUGE and the lead up to ‘Crisis’ had been drip fed to fans for over a year and across many main titles. It was an enormous undertaking and although we were left with a totally different landscape, which may not have suited all, fans agreed we had witnessed a huge milestone in the DC Universe.
Fast forward about twenty years and the DC Universe was once again on the move. Bursting from Infinite Crisis came another huge and significant milestone in the DC Universe. Flashpoint changed the history of the DC Universe, allowing it to accommodate the expanding cast of superheroes DC had collected along the decades. This in turn spawned ‘The New 52’, including the brilliant Earth 2 which spawned World’s End and Future’s End giving us a new and exciting re-imaging of an Earth 2 ravaged by the plague of Apokolips.
DC has done an amazing job on what must have been a logistical nightmare. I am sure there was a lot of head scratching during some late nights as each character was given their new time stream.
I am pleased the Justice Society of America (or the new interpretation of it, anyway) is back on Earth 2 where they should be. I have praised Earth 2 and am excited that instead of playing a supporting role to the JLA, it has been thrust in to the limelight and given a starring role. These are exciting times, people and with all these new worlds to play with, the possibilities are endless. I will be watching very closely how the dust settles and in what direction DC take their heroes. As for the other versions of me? The thought that in an alternate reality I might be a superhero is warming to say the least. I hope my other self can fly. Now that would be awesome.
For those of you who wish to acquaint themselves or re-live JSA past highlights, DC have now released Justice Society of America: A Celebration of 75 Years.