Sep 21, 2020
3 awesome alternate DC earths that should be TV series
Okay, DC, so Marvel won the race with the moviegoing public. There’s no shame in that. Well, there’s a little shame because of how badly you fumbled the ball. I mean, it takes special dedication to take properties as culturally dominant as friggin’ Superman and Batman, and completely fail at making anything worthwhile with them. I mean, it’s not a good sign when the last guy to believably play Superman has been dead since 2004.
Okay, so Wonder Woman can’t save you on her own at the box office, but you know what Marvel hasn’t completely taken over yet? Premium cable! After all, you’re kind of winning the superhero game on the broadcast networks (if the CW can ever be called winning), so why not build from there?
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Sure, Marvel’s Daredevil and Jessica Jones hit it out of the park, but you just have to think different. And not the Apple kind of thinking different, which is just charging twice as much for a badly designed product and a sense of smug superiority; I mean creatively different. Get as far from Marvel/Netflix’s urban grittiness as possible. What you need to do is dig into the archives and pull out one of those disposable alternate universes you guys used to have. The unique and creative ones, not the ones which were just a way for Superman to bone both Lois Lane and Lana Lang.
1. Earth-12, Home of the Inferior 5
Earth-12, much like the main DC Universe, is protected by some of the most powerful and capable superbeings you can imagine, ready to conquer any foe dumb enough to threaten the world. Unfortunately, this isn’t about them; it’s about their washout kids.
This team, the aptly-named Inferior 5, consists of the children of Earth-12’s greatest heroes the Freedom Force. Led by Merryman (who looks like Woody Allen pre-daughter-marrying), the son of the Patriot and Lady Liberty, the team also consisted of:
- Awkwardman (imagine Adam West’s Batman without any of his Bat-Gadgets), the son of Mr. Might and the Mermaid,
- The Blimp (with the amazing power to fly exactly as fast as you’d expect someone who looks like the Big Boy mascot to be able to), son of Captain Swift,
- White Feather (the world’s greatest archer, as long as no one is looking at him),
- and Dumb Bunny, the super-strong but slow-witted daughter of Princess Power (I know she’s not the brightest bulb, but that always struck me as a really mean-spirited name).
Together, the Inferior 5 would try to live up to their parents’ legacy. And fail miserably.
Despite being the only one without any powers (even if the ones the others had made the Super Friends version of Aquaman look like the most slavering Superman fanfic), Merryman was actually highly intelligent. In fact, he picked his entire gimmick on the idea that “if he’s going to make a fool of himself anyway, he might as well look the part.” At least he understood that trying to live up to their cartoonishly overpowered parents was essentially a suicide pact and the team was the superhero equivalent of the short bus. Despite this, he did his best to try to keep his teammates alive, even if most of the threats they faced wouldn’t be a danger to a Girl Scout troop.
Aside from general satire of superhero comics, the original series really enjoyed taking the piss out of Marvel with increasingly mean digs at Marvel’s characters, some of which skirted dangerously close to literal copyright violations. This is especially notable as the series ran in the mid-’60s, and Marvel had only just began to make a name for itself. Presumably, DC had realized that Marvel was going to leave them in ruins by the ’80s, and tried to delay the inevitable with some mean-spirited ribbing.
However, some of these parodies might be hard to get past the network lawyers these days.
There’s satire, and then there’s just stealing and hoping no one will notice.
2. Earth-72, Home of Prez
In 1973, DC decided to explore the idea of a world where teenagers were in charge, something that hadn’t really been done at that point. Well, not without condemning it in a reactionary masturbation fantasy like Logan’s Run (the novel; the movie is mostly just a standard depressing ’70s sci-fi flick). This is the premise of Earth-72, an Earth where a constitutional amendment lowered the minimum age for the presidency due to 45% of voters being under 30. This backfired when it resulted in the election of Prez Rickard, the first teenage President of the United States.
Prez’s backstory sounds like something out of that book of syrupy nonsense about George Washington that Parson Weems wrote back in the 19th century (the one with all that crap about the cherry tree and whatnot; it’s basically fan fiction). Named Prez by his mother Martha in the genuine hope that he’d someday become President, which really sounds like you’re setting the kid up for one hell of a bullying gauntlet in school, his first accomplishment was synchronizing all the clocks in his hometown of Steadfast, after which he was approached by Boss Smiley, a corrupt businessman who wanted to use Prez as a front for his own political ambition. And for some fucking reason, he had a giant smiley face for a head.
Really, the presence of Smiley, along with some of the issues Prez dealt with while in office makes you wonder if the whole thing isn’t just some sort of LSD-induced psychosis that Prez is having in an institution somewhere. Yeah, Prez did try to deal with real life issues, like oil prices and gun control, but kept getting sidetracked with insane nonsense, such as Transylvania using rabies-infested bats as a bioweapon against America:Naturally, Prez’s next crisis was a militia of gun nuts, led by a descendant of George Washington himself. Okay, maybe that one is a little more realistic. Considering the sheer amount of gun nuts America has, odds are there’s at least one crazy dwarf who’s related to Washington in there somewhere.
Considering that the original Prez only ran for four issues, it’s surprising just how much insanity they managed to cram into the setting, presumably so they wouldn’t have to deal with actual political satire. Prez has had a few appearances since then, most notably in an equally short-lived 2015 reboot where Prez is a girl, though this version was a good deal less subtle when it came to its political stance.
3. Dreamworld, Home of the Love Syndicate
This one might be a bit more difficult to turn into a TV series, because it didn’t technically have its own series. Or a one-shot. Or much more than a cameo, really, but the implications of that one appearance are just too good to pass up. In 1988, Grant Morrison got the job to do a run on Animal Man, and because he’s vaguely sadistic, he had the character realize his status as a fictional being, alongside the Psycho-Pirate, who began to channel up old characters from around the multiverse such as the Evil Justice League from Earth-3, as well as a few that never actually existed. One of those groups were these guys:
Seriously, a hippie Green Lantern, a drug-using Flash, and a black, civil rights activist Superman? How can you not feel giddy at the possibilities of this concept? And that’s just the three members we got to see. Imagine the Dreamworld’s free-love Batman, or psychedelic Wonder Woman!
Really, it’s too bad that DC never picked this up and ran with it, because it’s one of the best things they’ve ever done, and that’s just one panel. The group has gotten a few cameos in modern stories as well, most notably in one where it’s revealed that they apparently have their own version of Prez. So really, DC, there’s no reason not to use these guys. You can kill two super-groovy birds with one stone!
Sadly, we probably wont ever see this happen, and not just because of its comically illegal pro-drug use message. It’s because of black Superman. Remember when Marvel made a black Spider-Man? Or when the latest Fantastic Four movie had a black Human Torch? Granted, the movie turned out to be shit gravy anyway, but that was probably unrelated to skin color. Comic fans don’t mind gratuitous violence or uncomfortable sexual content, but they don’t handle race changes very well, even if it is an alternate reality character that has absolutely no bearing on the regular one. Hell, even Sunshine Superman himself was aware that he probably wasn’t going to be in a regular series anytime soon.