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Elseworlds is the publication imprint for a group of comic books produced by DC Comics that take place outside the company's canon. According to its tagline: "In Elseworlds, heroes are taken from their usual settings and put into strange times and places — some that have existed, and others that can't, couldn't or shouldn't exist. The result is stories that make characters who are as familiar as yesterday seem as fresh as tomorrow." Unlike its Marvel Comics counterpart What If...?, which bases its stories on a single point of divergence from the regular continuity, most Elseworlds stories instead take place in entirely self-contained continuities whose only connection to the canon DC continuity are the presence of familiar DC characters.


"Imaginary Stories"

For several years from 1942 to the mid-1980s, particularly during the 1960s Silver Age of Comic Books era, DC Comics published various stories about their title characters that did not take place in their regular continuity. Most of these stories were labeled "Imaginary Stories" and featured alternate histories of characters, such as "The Amazing Story of Superman-Red and Superman Blue!." Depending on the story they were portrayed either as completely "fictional" stories such as the first apearence of the original Bruce Wayne Junior or as possible futures that "could very well happen" such as Clark Kent revealing to Lois his secret identity and marrying her or that "perhaps never will" such as the permanent death of Superman Although the majority of Imaginary Stories were published in various Superman comics, a few Imaginary Stories appeared in Batman comics and other DC publications. Wonder Woman had her own series of stories called "Impossible Tales" which featured the same principle.

Though its status as a truly imaginary story is debatable, the last official "Imaginary Story" ever published—"Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?"—was written by Alan Moore and appeared in Superman #423 and Action Comics #583 (both September 1986). The Elseworlds series of self-contained stories are essentially Imaginary Stories under a newer label and a wider scope of possibilities.

Elseworlds imprint

The first Elseworlds title was Batman: Gotham by Gaslight (1989), by Brian Augustyn and Mike Mignola and edited by Mark Waid, which featured a Victorian Age version of the superhero Batman hunting Jack the Ripper, who had come to Gotham City. This title was not originally published as an Elseworlds comic, but its success led to the Elseworlds concept and this title was retroactively declared the first Elseworlds.

The first book to feature the Elseworlds logo was Batman: Holy Terror.

DC sporadically published various Elseworlds titles up to 2005. Around the time of the release of Batman Detective No. 27, editor Mike Carlin noted that DC had scaled back the production of Elseworlds books in order to "put the luster back on them." Several titles that were announced as Elseworlds books prior to this have yet to see publication, such as Generations 4 (announced by John Byrne, but possibly back-burnered due to lack of good press for & low fan response to Generations 3), Superboy's Legion 2 (rumored sequel by Alan Davis; presumably planned after he finished JLA: Another Nail) and The Teen Titans Swingin' Elseworlds Special (cancelled, possibly due to controversial material concerning John F. Kennedy).

It was recently announced in an interview at Newsarama that the Teen Titans Swingin' Elseworlds Special will be released in January 2008 as the Teen Titans Lost Annual.

Even though they do not take place within continuity, the majority of intercompany crossovers are not considered Elseworlds, but take place in their own, for the most part self-contained continuity. The 1996 one-shot "Batman/Captain America" was a Marvel/DC crossover book and cited as an "Elseworlds" but that was due to the plot, which imagined the two heroes co-existing in 1945.

Noted titles

Other Elseworlds titles include:

Titles like Batman: The Dark Knight Returns (1986), Superman: Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow? (1986), The Batman Chronicles #21 (May 2000, solicited as Elseworlds, but has no logo), Bizarro Comics (June 2001, which featured the story "Letitia Lerner, Superman's Babysitter" from the cancelled Elseworlds 80-Page Giant), Batman: The Dark Knight Strikes Again (2001), Batman: Digital Justice (1990), and Superman: Secret Identity (2004) were referred to as Elseworlds in the DC Universe without the name brand logo.

Except when otherwise noted, most of the stories in the monthly series Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight are considered canon, even though some have tales of Batman in the future, which are deemed non-canonical. In 1994, DC Comics Elseworlds collaborated with the DC yearly summer Annual edition comic books. The last Elseworlds series published was Batman: Year 100 in 2006, which did not have the Elseworlds logo printed on it.

Relationship to DC continuity

Although Elseworlds was created to be separate from the "regular continuity", there have been specific examples where Elseworld stories have been placed into continuity.

The series of specials The Kingdom, brought the previously Elseworlds Kingdom Come into DC continuity (as an alternate timeline). However, later editorial edict removed the concept of Hypertime established in the specials and presumably Kingdom Come.

The new Multiverse was introduced at the conclusion of the 52 finite series and expanded on in the pages of the Countdown weekly limited series. Some of the alternate worlds depicted in various Elseworlds titles have been reintroduced as alternate Earths that make up the new Multiverse, however this was not limited to the said series. Elseworlds that appear as worlds of the 52 Multiverse include:

See also



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