10 Animated Elseworlds we want to see
By Drew Mollo
Back in the early Nineties, DC Comics wanted to continue to experiment with the stories they could tell with their massive universe of powerful and interesting characters. They wanted to tell new and interesting stories but place iconic characters such as Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman or other Justice League characters like the Flash or Green Lanterns in alternate timelines or realities. Without the constraints of present day continuity, you could do things to the character that wouldn’t interfere with the current storylines or could be the complete opposite of everything defining the character in the present day. They tested the waters with Gotham by Gaslight in 1989 and when that was a success, they continued to publish various Elseworlds comics until the early 2000s. With Gotham by Gaslight announced as the next DC animated film, there is the possibility that other Elseworld titles could be considered as full length animated films. With that in mind, here’s my list of Top 10 Elseworlds that should be produced as animated DC features.
10. Superman: Last Son of Earth (W: Steve Gerber/ A: Doug Wheatley) In a complete role reversal, Superman is not sent from a dying Krypton but a dying Planet Earth. His vessel crash lands on Krypton and he is raised by scientist Jor-El but remains different from his super powered people. This changes when he discovers the existence of a Green Lantern ring which enables him to fly like the other Kryptonians and after saving the planet, he becomes the Green Lantern of Krypton. This switch of planets and identities could prove an interesting change to a classic character who always drew his powers from his environment and shed light on the society of Krypton which until recent years we had only seen in flashbacks and origin stories.
9. JLA: Age of Wonder (W: Adisakdi Tantimedh/ A: P. Craig Russell and Galen Showman) In this story, Superman arrives in Kansas but during 1850s. Twenty or so years later, he reveals his existence as Super Man to the world during the 1876 Centennial Exposition. From that point on, Superman and other heroes like the Flash, Star Man, and the Green Lantern help usher in an age of technological advancement alongside other famous inventors such as Nicola Tesla. As other heroes slowly emerge, the progress these heroes represent is met with opposition from Lex Luthor and other figures who are suspicious and paranoid of the power this League of Science possesses. Focusing not solely on Superman or Batman, this team-centric Elseworld story shows a world where the super human and technological progress go hand in hand and what difference it would make in the early 19th century and beyond.
8. Flashpoint: (W: Norm Breyfogle/ A: Pat McGreal) Yes, there WAS already a Flashpoint animated film… but that’s not the Flashpoint we are talking about. Before there was a Flashpoint changed the DC Universe (i.e. the birth of the New 52 in 2011), there was originally an Elseworlds story about Barry Allen (aka The Flash) who was the only costumed hero in existence. After he loses the use of his legs preventing the JFK assassination, his superpower becomes his quick mind and his inventions advance humanity further especially in its exploration of space. When a mission to Mars involving his nephew Wally West uncovers a strange artifact but at a terrible price, Barry’s investigation puts him on a collision course with the immortal Vandal Savage and will test his understanding of himself as the Flash but also his place in his universe and more. This Flash Elseworld tests the sanity of Barry Allen as he examines his role as the Flash but also what the Flash could mean in other universes full of superpowered allies, family and friends.
7. Legacy: (W/A: John Byrne) Unique in that this Elseworlds story was published as an Action Comics annual issue – Man of Steel writer/artist John Byrne reimagines a Superman who arrives on Planet Earth in the late 17th century when the American Revolution was just around the corner. Siding with the British, this relative of the House of El completely changes the course of the American Revolution resulting in the quick demise of many significant figures in American history. Years later when his actions have resulted in a world devoid of liberty or freedom, his almost human descendant, horrified at the price his legacy has demanded of Earth and its people, leads a rebellion against him. Just like Red Son, Legacy challenges the ideals of Superman with his limitless power and shows what a difference such a person could make in a very vulnerable time in world history.
6. The Devils Workshop: (W: Howard Chaykin and John Francis Moore/ A: Mark Chiarello) This story recounts an encounter between the mysterious Bat-Man and the famous escape artist Harry Houdini in the early 20th Century. Children have been disappearing in Gotham City in the area of the city known as the Devil’s Workshop. Exploring Batman’s detective nature as well as Harry Houdini’s later interest in spiritualism, the investigation takes a quick turn into the paranormal and requires our heroes to work together in order to save the city. Narrated by Harry Houdini, this Elseworld entry continues the clever trend of real historical figures working alongside fictional characters.