5 Best DC Elseworld Tales That Screw With Continuity

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Posted on: August 22nd, 2013

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In 1989 Brian Augustyn and Mike Mignola’s Gotham By Gaslight tale, transplanting Batman from his regular setting of modern era Gotham city to a Victorian age where he hunted Jack The Ripper, ignited a line wide idea that was prolifically replicated for the next 10 years with Varying degree’s of success.

That idea was Elseworlds, the premise being to remove staple characters from their regular setting and install them elsewhere on else-worlds to see how their new stories and origins fared.

Since 1999, with The New 52 and beyond Elseworld’s titles under the mandate of DC big cheese Dan DiDio have been more or less discontinued (Didio noted the stagnation of the Elseworlds concept when he felt it became simply transplanting the characters in different settings). But before the old DCU is all but forgot I decided it was time to take a trip down memory lane and remind ya’ll of some of the best alternate universe books that according to current continuity – never were.

So without further ado, here’s my top 5 Elseworld titles. Check them out and see if you agree:

 

5. FLASHPOINT

 

 

Creators

Writer: Pat McGreal

Art: Norm Breyfogle

 

What’s The Difference?

Flashpoint is an Elseworlds tale dealing with the Flash and other Silver Age characters set in a timeline diverging in the 1960′s.  The Flash, Barry Allen, played a part at key turning points in the Cold War including stopping the Vietnam War before it started and turning the Bay of Pigs operation into a success.  Flash was crippled saving JFK’s life in Dallas.   Since being crippled, Barry Allen has gone public and is a world renowned celebrity.  

His mind still worked at super speed and so, in some cases working in concert with Vandal Savage, Allen brought many scientific advances to the American people, including overseeing the colonization of Mars, inventing subspace teleportation and prolonging JFK’s life so that he is still President of the United States in 1999.
 
An archaeological team including Wally West and James Jesse discovers a mysterious artifact on Mars that may have connections to Allen’s speed.  Private Detective Ralph Dinby and J’onn J’onzz also play key roles as the story unfolds.

 

Why It’s Great:

Unlike the modern 2011 Flashpoint (Geoff John’s tale that rebooted the DCU into the New 52), this version is an Elseworlds set in the 60′s and beyond, that while overtly superheroic is actually a nice little mystery with some serious philosophizing in the subtext. This story follows a physically inert former Flash; Barry Allen, forced to use his incredibly quick mind as a weapon in a story that’s both retro and pulpy with superhero tendencies, a pastiche that makes it so much more than the sum of it’s parts and has some simply smashing character work.

In brief; Flashpoint is a nail biter with some excellent twisty reveals and should make it onto any Elseworlds reading list despite the fact that it’s maybe a bit ‘old fart’ territory.

 

 

4. BATMAN & DRACULA: RED RAIN

 

Creators

Writer: Doug Moench

Art: Kelly Jones

 

What’s The Difference?

Dracula comes to make Gotham City his dark dominion, first preying on the homeless and then amassing an army to take on the good citizens of Gotham. Batman must forge an alliance with the undead to defeat this unholy foe in a duel that stretches beyond the boundaries of death.

 

Why It’s Great:

The best thing about this Batman Vs Dracula Elseworld isn’t the rich, dark artwork (which is superbly macabre from Kelly Jones) or the grim and incredibly humorless subject matter (a plague of vampirism), something that in lesser hands could have been a real cheese fest. It’s the fascinatingly grim deconstruction of a culturally renowned character into something sinister, inhuman and yet entirely appropriate. Batman becomes a literal ‘Bat man’ as he sacrifices himself for a greater good in an ultimate necessity, and Red Rain charts his fall as the first and the best of a deeply dark and at times painfully bleak trilogy (Blood Storm and Crimson Mist come next).

But unlike most modern takes on the sanguine fiends of the night, this book has the influences of Stoker and Matheson in an homage piece set in mainstream horror that still manages to do it’s own thing.

In short: throat ripping goodness of the highest calibre. Read that shizz and squee!

 

 

3. THRILLKILLERS

 

 

Creators:

Writer: Howard Chaykin

Art: Dan Brereton

 

What’s The Difference?

It’s 1962: a world of Jazz music, beatniks and Bohemians. JFK is in the white house. The Beatles are still in Hamburg and Elvis is out of THE service. And in Gotham City…two thrill-crazed youths are calling themselves Batgirl and Robin, grabbing headlines and making waves. When bored heiress Barbara Gordon meets free-spirited circus daredevil Dick Grayson, sparks fly right from the start. But when Dick’s family are murdered, mere mischief becomes serious business as Batgirl and Robin arm themselves and set out to get justice. At the same time, Gotham’s newly appointed Commissioner of Police has assigned Detective Bruce Wayne, to take down the young thrill-seekers and solve the murder mystery.

 

Why It’s Great:

Unlike most Bat Tales where Batman is almost always a reclusive billionaire with an off-beat night life, industry provocateur Howard Chaykin screws with the Bat mythos so completely as to practically redesign the DNA of pre-existing characters in his time twisting take on Bat cannon. Relocating his versions of Bat faves  to a 60′s era still clambering to break away from the oppression of the 1950′s and given to that neo expressionism inherent in the exuberant ideals of the 60′s generation, this is a fast, fucked up trip into the Gotham City you never knew featuring heroes and villains that are actually stranger than they are familiar.

Chaykin writes with his usual off-kilter ‘fuck you’ method and retroactive social commentary that seems decades out of sync yet irresistibly relevant, and Dan Brereton’ painted art is the cherry on top of this bitching, beatnick pulp, that retrospectively is still one of the freshest Elseworlds of it’s 10 year run. Read it. Your brain will thank you in the long run!

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