The 10 Most Influential Alternate Universes In Comic Book History

Comics have always leaned into the big sci-fi concepts, and one of those is the multiverse. Multiverses have proven to be fertile ground for superheroes, and with the MCU and DCEU embracing them, general audiences are being introduced to something that has thrilled comics fans for decades. Marvel and DC both have created expansive multiverses, consisting of completely different Earths and alternate timelines that have birthed amazing stories over the years.

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The multiverse concept has proven to be quite influential in the comic industry. By embracing this method of storytelling, fans got to experience stories they never thought they would. Many of these alternate Earths have made major impacts on their respective universes.

10 DC’s Earth-One Gave The Company Their Own Successful Version Of The Ultimate Universe

DC Earth One Superman Wonder Woman Batman

After the success of Marvel’s Ultimate Universe, DC tried to create their own version with the All-Star line. While all star superman was an award-winning success, All-Star Batman And Robin was the opposite of that, and the line died. It would take a few years, but the publisher would try again with the Earth One line.

Consisting of one-shot graphic novels starring Superman, Batman, the Teen Titans, Green Lantern, and Wonder Woman, these stories were re-imaginings of their characters on an entirely different Earth. They brought in new fans and let readers see old concepts in new ways.

9 Earth-X Pit The Freedom Fighters Against The Nazis On A Earth Where The Nazis Won World Way II

superman earth x

Alternate history takes are always interesting, with entire genres of historical fiction looking at worlds where events played out differently. DC got into that with Earth-X, a world where the Nazis won World War II. It also served as a place to put Quality Comics characters like Uncle Sam, Human Bomb, Phantom Lady, and more after DC acquired that company.

Earth-X doesn’t get the love that a lot of other DC Earths do but it was one of the first examples of an alternate world history-based dystopia in comics, which was quite different from just about every other alternate world readers had seen up to that point.

8 Marvel’s Earth X Was A Lore Dense Dive Into Marvel’s Future

Captain America From Earth-X Cover Image

Marvel dystopian futures are a tell me a dozen, but few of them were as full of lore as the one created in writer Jim Krueger, and artist John Paul Leon’s Earth X. Dreamed up by Alex Ross after his work on kingdom come for Wizard Magazine before the concept’s popularity spurred Marvel to publish it, it was a deep dive into Marvel lore that built an amazing future where everyone on Earth had gained powers.

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Earth X and its sequels, Universe X and Paradise X, presented an amazingly thought-out future, drawing on Marvel history to create something unique. Earth X’s big twist also informed the one in the MCU’s Eternals, cementing the importance of this alternate world.

7 Old Man Logan Introduced The Wastelands To Readers

Writer Mark Millar and artist Steve McNiven’s Old Man Logan is a modern classic, and it introduced readers to the Wastelands. The Wastelands are a USA taken over and controlled by the villains, with the country cut into various fiefdoms lorded over by Marvel’s greatest antagonists. The original story struck a chord, and Marvel eventually expanded the world of the Wasteland writ large.

Books like the post-Secret Wars Old Man Logan, Dead Man Logan, Old Man Hawkeye, and more expanded upon the lore of this alternate world. Readers love the Wasteland, and it’s come to be the Marvel alternate dystopia du jour.

6 The Many Lives Of Moira MacTaggert Changed The X-Men Forever

House Of X/Powers Of X, by writer Jonathan Hickman and artists Pepe Larraz and RB Silva, threw a lot of changes at the X-Men, but the most influential was the many lives of Moira MacTaggert. Moira was revealed to be a reincarnating mutant, allowing her to reboot the timestream from the moment of her birth until her death.

Readers got a glimpse of her alternate lives leading up to her current tenth life. These alternate worlds changed the way they looked at the human/mutant conflict and are the reason the X-Men are in the place where they currently are. Seeing as how the X-Men gave become Marvel’s biggest selling books again, these alternate universes are currently extremely influential.

5 The Ultimate Universe Changed The Face Of Comics In 21st Century

Earth 1610 Ultimate Marvel

The Ultimate Universe was a risky idea. Taking Spider-Man and the X-Men and rebooting them in their own universe, updating them for the new millennium could have blown up in Marvel’s faces. It didn’t, and a new Marvel legend was born. books like Ultimate Spider-Man, Ultimate X-Men, and The Ultimates ruled the comic industry in the early 2000s and created new superstars in Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Millar.

The Ultimate line would influence the 616 Marvel Universe in all kinds of ways before its end. The early days of the MCU owe everything to the Ultimate Universe, as those inaugural outings took costume designs and origin details from this alternate universe. The Ultimate Universe changed pop culture forever.

4 “Days Of Future Past” Brought Alternate Future Dystopias To The Fore

Wolverine Protecting Kitty Pryde

Uncanny X-Men #141-142, by writer Chris Claremont and artist John Byrne, was a two-issue story that changed comics forever. “Days of Future Past” took place in an alternate future where the Sentinels had wiped out the superheroes and mutants alike, controlling the human race with an iron fist. Only a ragtag band of X-Men with a desperate plan stood against them.

“Days of Future Past” is one of Marvel’s most important alternate worlds because of what it introduced to comics. Dystopian futures have become the main superhero world future and all because of this X-Men classic.

3 Earth-3 Introduced The Opposite Morality World To Superhero Comics

Crime Syndicate Earth-3

In comics, a big trope is the hero whose main villain is basically their opposite. Earth-3 took this to a new extreme as it was the Earth where evil always won. Home to the Crime Syndicate, an alternate reality version of the Justice League staffed by evil doppelgangers of familiar heroes, Earth-3 gave comics its version of Star Trek’s mirror universe.

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Earth-3 has since proven to be one of DC’s most famous multiversal worlds, as well as one of the most influential. A world of evil doppelgangers is great fun for readers and has been used to great effect in multiple comics over the years.

two The Age Of Apocalypse Is Marvel’s Most Beloved Alternate Universe

The Age of Apocalypse could have easily gone wrong for Marvel. Taking their most famous books and depositing them in an alternate universe for months, putting fan-favorite stories on hold in the process, could have angered readers. Instead, the various books ruled the sales roost and created what would become Marvel’s most beloved alternate universe.

The Age of Apocalypse had everything fans want from an alternate universe and has gone down as one of the ’90s greatest stories. Marvel has tried to recapture its lightning in a bottle many times but never has, as it was such a unique universe. It has many imitators, but nothing comes close to the original.

one The Introduction Of Earth-2 Changed Comics Forever

The DC Multiverse is one of the publisher’s most defining features. Its alternate worlds are fan favorites, but they owe it all to Earth-2. Because of Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman, DC decided to go a different way in its Golden Age history, depositing those older stories and heroes on Earth-2, allowing the Golden Age versions of the Big Three to exist alongside their Silver Age counterparts. .

Earth-2 is comics’ OG alternate Earth, the one that all of the others sprang from. DC would ride their multiverse to stardom for years before Marvel got into the game. Since then, both publishers have embraced and disavowed multiverses many times, and Earth-2 was the genesis of them all.

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