So are Marvel's Secret Wars and DC's Convergence telling the same story? Both feature multiple realities colliding and mixing together, both are expected to redefine their respective comic book universes.
It's impossible to tell which chicken or egg came first here. DC's 52-dimension multiverse is an integral part of its overall mythology, and has been for a long time. This won't be the first time they've crossed paths and mingled their heroes. Marvel's multiverse-spanning event was largely conceived out of necessity; the publisher is canceling Ultimate Comics and needs to combine some of its elements with its primary universe.
We've already examined the multitude of Earths being combined in Marvel's Secret Wars, which until recently were largely shrouded in mystery — and many of them had never been known to exist before. DC's multiverse is a different story; its 52 worlds are already defined and known (and detailed in The Multiversity Guidebook). So instead of listing them all, we're going to look at ten of the strangest and most obscure Earths you may have never heard of -- that we sincerely hope will show up in Convergence.
One important prerequisite to know: the main DC Comics continuity takes place on "Earth-0."
Marvel has the Supreme Power universe, where a cast of characters similar to DC's Justice League resides. Likewise, DC has Earth-8, a world where very Marvel-like characters exist. There's a group of heroes known as the Retaliators, led by the shield-wielding American Crusader, techno-hero Machinehead and warrior god Wundajin. There's a female arachnid hero called Ladybug. A team of four scientists called the Future Family. Mutant heroes called G-Men. The list goes on and on, and it really is that on-the-nose.
Every superhero (and villain) of Earth-11 has a reversed gender to that of Earth-0. Instead of Superman, there's Superwoman. Instead of Batman, there's Batwoman (no relation to Katherine Kane of Earth-0), instead of Wonder Woman there's Wondrous Man. The story goes that the Amazons of this world were benefactors to the rest of humanity, inspiring women everywhere to take on roles of leadership. Naturally, this leads to a predominance of female characters. Earth-11 was first introduced back in 2006, in Superman/Batman #24 (after a tease in #23).
Earth-13: Dark Magic
Looking to get your dark-and-creepy on? Book your getaway now to Earth-13, where the sun never shines, there are 13 hours to a day, and everything is based on magic and the occult. Even the heroes of this Earth — known as the League of Shadows, including Hellblazer, Witchboy, Swamp-Man, Ragman and more — are based on the magical side of things. Like almost every other Earth, its age of superheroes was kicked off by the arrival of Superman, only here he takes the form of Etrigan, aka Superdemon, whose tiny spacecraft saved him from his dying homeworld, Kamelot.
Grant Morrison, overall architect of the New 52's version of the Multiverse, depicted this one, also known as Earth-Me, in one of his Multiversity comics. Inspired by MTV's The Hills, this world is home to a pampered collection of bored superheroes where peace reigns supreme and there's no crime to fight. Back in the day, the Justice League did their jobs so well that there are no supervillains left to engage in dastardly schemes. Their offspring, who call themselves The Just, now take up their parents' old posts. Problem is, the lack of evil to fight has turned them into the superhero version of Paris Hilton and her ilk.
Earth-18: The Old West
Meet the Justice Riders, American Western incarnations of the Justice League that include Super-Chief, Bat-Lash and Madame .44. They exist in the Old West because a villain named the Time Trapper froze all of Earth-18's technology and culture in the 19th Century. Intriguingly, Earth-18 enjoys most of the same conveniences we have today, but they do so using the resources at hand. So our Internet becomes their "Telegraph Internet." The Justice Riders originated in a 1997 Elseworlds one-shot.
In a plot that sounds right out of the movie Waterworld, some kind of great apocalypse caused the oceans to rise, erasing all of the dry land. So what do you get when all of civilization is forced to live on the sea? Pirates! On Earth-31, Batman and Robin, er, Captain Leatherwing and Robin Redblade sail the seas plundering treasure from other ships under the clandestine employ of King James II. It seems to be inspired by an Elseworlds tale called "Leatherwing" from 1994, though this New 52 version adds in the apocalypse/waterworld part.
Years ago there was another Elseworlds one-shot called Batman: In Darkest Knight, in which Bruce Wayne becomes Green Lantern instead of Hal Jordan. Earth-32 is inspired by In Darkest Knight, featuring not only Bat-Lantern, but Super-Martian, Wonderhawk, Black Arrow and Aquaflash. They call themselves the Justice Titans, and we want to see more of them.
One of the most bizarre yes-this-really-is-in-continuity entries of DC's Multiverse has to be Earth-42, where all of the superheroes are tiny, childlike people. They're like little toddlers and it's fair to say that they're probably unprepared for the realities of fighting supervillains from other universes. They call themselves the "Lil' Leaguers," and they already got the first shock of their adorable little lives when an intruder from another Earth killed their version of Superman.
Earth-47: Hippie Heroes
Meet the Love Syndicate, and their groovy Earth, which they call Dreamworld. These 1960s-influenced superheroes, who look like Scooby Doo rejects, fight crime with, one assumes, love and weed. Their names — Sunshine Superman, Shooting Star, Speed Freak and more — make perfect sense in a world where it's always the age of Aquarius. Oh, and did we mention that they're financed by the President of the United States, whose real name is Prez Rickard, and is a teenager who never ages? No, seriously.
Earth-51: All Kirby, All the Time
The New Gods. Kamandi, the last boy on Earth. BiOMAC. All beloved creations by the legendary Jack Kirby. What Earth-51 does for the first time, in a rather lovely tribute to Kirby's legacy, is put all of his DC characters together on a single world. DC has yet to publish any tales set on Earth-51 beyond a short b-story, but Kirby fans are salivating for this combo world that's billed as "a fragile Earth ravaged by an unknown 'Great Disaster'" where the mortals have "embarked on a mind-bending rescue mission to the ends of the Earth," while the New Gods manipulate events from behind the scenes.