If your trying to get into comics, chances are you have stumbled upon DC’s Elseworld and Marvel’s “What if…?”
These are stories that mess around with the established ideas and characters. These can range from interesting adaptations of established stories using comic characters or just throwing a character in a place that they would never end up.
The DC’s Elseworlds was popular during the 90s to the mid 00s. I thought I would take this time to go over some of the more popular titles.
Probably the most well known of these stories is Mark Waid and Alex Ross’s masterpiece, Kingdom Come. The story features an old preacher whose old friend Wesley Dodds (Sandman) tells him about his vision of heroes destroying a large city.
The preacher is then picked up by the Spectre who lets him see the events that will lead to the world’s destruction.
The backdrop of the world follows the trend in comics during the 90s. New violent heroes replace heroes like Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman. The population of Metropolis adopt these heroes as there own and Superman goes into a self made exile. Years later he comes back after seeing how destructive these “heroes” are.
The pairing of Waid and Ross is amazing, and the create one of the best titles that DC has ever made. This collection needs to be in your collection.
Batman: Gotham By Gaslight
We’ve seen this story way to many times but this one is special.
Gotham By Gaslight is set in a steampunk late 19 century England, were a new superhero Batman starts fighting crime. Around that time a man that the papers call Jack the Ripper kills a group of prostitutes.
The team of writer by Brian Augustyn and artist by Mike Mignola create an interesting world for this Batman character to exist in.
The world was brought back in to the continuity with DC’s Countdown to Final Crisis, as we see this Batman teaming up with that world’s Blue Beetle to fight Man-Bat.
This title was my first experience with Elseworld, and I thought the idea was so interesting that I continued to look up other Elseworld titles.
Superman: Red Son
While other titles had dealt with putting heroes in a different time frame, Red Son buts Sups in a different time period and continuity.
This story created by Mark Millar and artists Dave Johnson and Kilian Lunkett, puts the last son of Krypton and other heroes in Soviet Russia during the cold war.
The plot revolves around Superman creating an arms race with America. America hires Lex Luthor to kill Superman. Luthor creates a clone of Superman (Bizarro) and tries to kill Superman.
The story also deals with a lot of Superman lore such as Superman Robots, Brainiac and a Soviet Fortress of Solitude.
Milliar’s story does a good job of taking the first superhero and putting it on its ear.
JLA: The Nail
Much like the Red Son storyline this story asks the question of what would happen if Superman was not found by the Kents, but by a group of Amish people living outside of Smallville.
What we get is a Justice League similar to the one that we knew at the time but with Hal Jordon as the leader.
The plot revolves around the fear of Superheroes, as the government tries to find was to fight these heroes cause they think their “evil” near the end of the book the League finds Superman and recruits him to the team.
The sequel Another Nail (great title guys) he’s the new Justice League fight the forces of Apokolips who want to take over earth.
The creative team of Alan Davis and Mark Farmer do a good job with this title but is not the best that Elseworlds has done.
German Expressionist Trilogy
These stories demonstrate another idea behind Elseworlds , adapting stories and moves with DC characters.
The main three are Superman: Metropolis (based upon Metropolis), Batman: Nosferatu (Nosferatu) and Wonder Woman: The Blue Amazon (based upon The Blue Angel and Doctor Mabuse).
These stories follow the basic plot of the films, while changing due to the characters.
If you are looking into these I recommend the Nosferatu story.
Again switching the idea around the Justice League, Justice Riders is a western adventure of a group of Riders: Federal Marshal Dianna Prince (Wonder Women), gambler Booster Gold, outlaw gunner Wally West (Flash) and inventor Ted Kord (Blue Beetle).
The plot deals with Wonder Women’s mentor is killed and a “sorcerer” named Felix Faust destroys town.
She meets up with the Riders and the team up to track down and kill Faust.
The story also features other DC characters such as Clark Kent as a dime novel writer, Martian Manhunter as a lone rider and Katar Johnson (Hawkman) as an Indian Warrior chief.
Creator’s Chuck Dixon and J.H. Williams III (my favourite artist) create a great western story.
This is my favorite of all the Elseworlds Imprint. If you can find it for a good price, I recommend that you pick it up.
JLA: Created Equal
This story takes the interesting idea of “What would happen if all the men of the world but Superman died” and throws the main female characters of the DCU into the story.
While this story is ok, DC/Vertigo’s Y: The Last Man is ten times better and is what you should read instead.
These are just a small collection of Elseworlds stories, there are a lot more, but I would start with these.