Would You Visit Earth-4?

Post 856

At the centre of the beating heart of the world of DC Comics is the multiverse, and trying to figure it out is about as easy as trying to figure out why earphones are called earphones when they’re clearly not phones. Imagine the Earth is a blue marble. Now imagine you have lots of green marbles. Now scatter those marbles across and around the blue marble. That’s the multiverse. Lots of Earths in lots of fictional universes often interacting with one another and affecting one another in a way that makes one’s brain turn to mush. Some of them don’t even have names, in which case, I’ll step in and give them names, like Earth-Melvin. Anywho, today we’re taking a trip to Earth-4. This is a world where all was well until the latter half of the 20th century when citizens from all over the world started to take to the streets as powerless superheroes to maintain the peace and to protect all their fellow law abiding citizens. Which does, indeed, make one wonder why so many decided to do this if all was well. It’s a bit like being hungry and deciding to combat said hunger by constructing a fence…

Truth is, the ordinary citizens had become weary and tired of the trivialities of day-to-day life. Some wanted to make a difference in the world. Some wanted justice and revenge. Others just wanted to kick the crap outta the bad guys to get their rocks off. It was quite a shift for an ordinary and mundane world. It’s like cooking the Sunday roast and suddenly deciding to turn off the blender, and go and kick the crap out of that neighbour who owes you a fiver. Can you tell I’ve never cooked a Sunday roast? I assume one uses a blender.

Using their remarkable resourcefulness, intelligence and various levels of combat training, the citizens of Earth-4 took to the streets, with no powers and rather primitive costumes, often a bed sheet with some eye holes cut into them. You had The Question. Then Nightshade, beautiful yet dangerous. Blue Beetle, technology driven. And the rather threatening sounding patriotic lump of Americana known as the Peacemaker. They had one thing in common. They fought crime with their fists. And often a knee to gentlemanly areas…

Vic Sage was the real name of The Question, a vigilante protector of Hub City. He was rather nifty with the martial arts and spent his days as a detective and investigative reporter. He was driven by a deep quest for philosophical meaning, and often dabbled in the world of paranoid conspiracy theorists. Yes, I too am wondering why he doesn’t have a movie…

But then it all changed, as so is often the way with the multiverse. It would be a bit boring, otherwise. This week on Adventures on Earth-4: The Question goes for a walk in the park. Hmm. Yes, let me introduce you to the star of the show, the one, the only, CAPTAIN ATOM! I imagine that’s how you say it. Shout it real loud.

Allen Adam was a United States Air Force captain, a normal man who, one day whilst busy captaining, came into contact with the mysterious U-235, after the uranium engine in his experimental rocket exploded. The U-235 obliterated his mortal form leaving him as a disembodied mind with a newfound quantum awareness of reality. He built himself a new, ideal body, albeit with a giant H on his head, as you do, but retained his god-like powers. The world’s first super-powered hero was born. By comparison, it made all the other heroes look a bit shit. Please don’t tell The Question I said that, I like having all my fingers…

However, Captain Adam couldn’t handle his newfound abilities. He was overwhelmed and feared the loss of his humanity. In a desperate attempt to dampen the affects of his abilities, he started to take drugs. Yes, this isn’t a comic book world for the kiddies. This was a man with quantum sense and matter manipulation, plus had the ability to time travel, and, bizzarely, once created an exact living duplicate of his dead dog. Uh-huh.

But this DC world was a bit different. Rather than death and doom befalling this world like so many of the others in the DC pantheon, Captain Atom was a rallying call. A central heart of all the world’s heroes. A superman who wasn’t Superman, although he was very blue. I mean, completely blue. So very, very blue. His skin emitted Cherenkov radiation. Which is a real thing, which is funny, because it doesn’t sound real to me…

Soon, super-powered superheroes, vigilantes and government agents started cropping up everywhere, to fight crime, such as crime writer Vince Harley. He gained his abilities after a group of jewel robbers poured a box of yellowjackets all over him. Yes, jewel robbers poured a box of wasps on him. I mean, yes, it’s not a very nice thing to do, but it is inventive, I’ll grant them that. It didn’t harm Harley, though. No, instead it give him the ability to control the insects, using said ability to fight crime under the moniker ‘Yellowjacket,’ whilst wearing a bright yellow costume that made him look like a giant banana…

And he wasn’t the last superhero to suffer at the hands of tyrants. Eve Eden was the daughter of an American senator. She was the partner of Captain Atom and, for some time, was doing him, too. Her mother, Magda, was a visitor from another dimension whose citizens have the ability to transform into living two-dimensional shadows. And these abilities often got passed down to their children, including Eve, who became the superhero Nightshade. Sadly, she was kidnapped by the evil bastard known as Monarch and forcefully drafted into his war across the multiverse. She didn’t last very long, if I’m being honest, and her demise wasn’t really that pleasant, either. The Shade had a swarm of shadow creatures dismember her limbs. As you’d imagine, she bled out and thus died a slow and rather painful death. I think I’d prefer the wasps…

Yellowjacket, meanwhile, had a son, one who went on to become the President of America. He used the superhero ideal as his platform to rise to the top. He dreamt of global peace but plotted a fiendish plan that involved his own assassination and resurrection using the powers of Captain Atom. I mean, I can see where President Harley was coming from, but really, I should imagine this would only be a last resort if all else had failed in one’s endeavours to achieve world peace. “So, President Harley, how are we going to sort out that peace pledge you made?” “Well Pete, and hear me out…” “Okay…” “I think you should shoot me dead.” “Well, I heard you out and I’m not… overly convinced it’s such a great idea and… I’m fired, aren’t I?” “Yes, Pete…”

Harley was a charismatic bastard who assembled Pax Americana shortly after 9/11, a peacekeeping group of uniformed agents there to serve and protect the nation and its interests from threats at home and from beyond. His Vice President was one Charles Eden. Ring a bell? Yes, he was the husband of the tragically departed Eve Eden, and they did, indeed, have a child who took on the mantle ‘Nightshade,’ real name also Eve. Giving her the same name was probably easier for the publishers, one assumes…

President Harley wanted to bolster national confidence and never gave up on that dream of global peace. But a world with superheroes was never gonna be an easy transition from the sleepy and well-trodden old ways. Soon, the world was stricken with conspiracies, distrust and paranoia. If the superheroes watched over us, who watched over them?

The state sponsored action heroes of this crazy world were growing in strength and power, more so when Captain Atom and Peacemaker were appointed to Pax Americana. Peacemaker was even made Harley’s bodyguard, a position that would cost him his life. You can see why people started to grow suspicious of this new world order. Just what was their agenda and what was stopping them from using their powers to take over the world? It was a real concern. Like when that jackass you work with is promoted over you and becomes your boss, which, sure, isn’t the worst news in the world, until you realise you said some rather mean things about him on Facebook and you realise your job is probably coming to a rather abrupt end.

Together, Pax Americana stopped the terrorists and stopped the supervillains, often in colourful costumes said to be colourful to distract the public from the troubles the country faced. I mean, it just gets more and more suspicious, doesn’t it? “Oh yeah, we’re not up to anything suspicious…” “What’s… what’s Nightshade doing to that criminal?” “Oh, erm… nothing. That room is not part of our tour.” “Yeah, but… is she attaching electrodes to his nipples?” “Erm, no… that’s, erm… our S&M room.” “Why… why do you have one of those?” “Well, it’s not ours, Nixon had it installed and we never really got round to getting rid of it…”

Peacemaker was tasked with assassinating President Harley, with the plan being that Captain Atom would bring Harley back to life. Peacemaker, most certainly, killed Harley, but the resurrection never happened. Captain Atom had gone missing, but some think the real reason the resurrection never happened was because it was punishment for Harley’s greatest crime: killing his own father, the wonderful fruitloop known as Yellowjacket…

With the President dead, Peacemaker rogue, Captain Atom gone and the ruthless and disturbed Question defected to the dark side, the golden age of the all American action heroes disintegrated. Nightshade’s father was now President Charles Eden, and he ordered the immediate disbandment of Pax Americana, thus forcing Nightshade to abandon her life as a gnarly superhero. This Earth has gone from glory to mayhem, descending into a madcap world of betrayal and mistrust, of conspiracy and lies, of death and doom. Earth-4, as we know it, was never the same again.

But would I visit Earth-4? It’s a strange one, this. One the one hand, it does sound like a rather special place. All these do-gooders in bright and colourful costumes fighting crime in a way I imagine was much like the superheroes of old, rescuing cats from trees and teaching mean bullies a lesson. Which is rather sweet. But this was a world that became consumed by a love of the action hero. One super-powered being led to another, and this appeal of these all American heroes clouded the judgments of so many. It was easy to be lured in by the appeal of these poster hunks, but beneath the surface, absolute power had corrupted absolutely. A world that had become mired in darkness. It’s a world I would visit, at the beginning, but certainly not at its end…

But would you visit Earth-4, readers?

Ciao :)(:


I’d love to hear your thoughts on this post. You can leave a comment and/or like this post below, or by clicking the title on the top of this post if you are on the ‘Archives’ page. Likes and follows greatly appreciated. Thanks.


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The Indelible Life of Me
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