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The Weirdest and Wackiest of the Marvel/DC Multiverses

by Joe Zador on April 13, 2015

Who doesn’t love comics set in the Multiverse? These stories give writers the prestige of working with familiar characters, while simultaneously giving them the freedom to do with them what they please, creating genuinely original versions of our favourite heroes and villains. Kingdom Come, Superman: Red Son, Ultimate Spider-Man, some of the best superhero comics ever written have been set in an alternate universe. Of course, not all Elseworlds and What If? stories are remembered as classics, in fact, many of them go relatively unnoticed. This article is devoted to the forgotten and bizarre incarnations of famous characters featured in those comics that simply fell beneath the cracks. So buckle up, cause’ it’s about to get weird.

 

The Cast of Marvel Apes, Marvel Apes


At one point or another, most comic fans will find themselves asking the day old question “What if the Marvel Universe featured superpowered apes, instead of superpowered people?”. Obviously, we and the bigwigs at Marvel Comics have a lot in common, because in October 2008, Marvel launched Marvel Apes, the miniseries literally no one was asking for. Featuring primate-themed characters with names like “Thorangutan”, “Spider-Monkey”, and my personal favourite: “the Invisible Simian”, there really isn’t a lot to be said about Marvel Apes. It’s basically just an Avengers/X-Men crossover...but with monkeys.
 

Reverend Bruce Wayne, Batman: Holy Terror


Set in a theocratic alternate America, Batman: Holy Terror (not to be confused with Frank Miller’s godawful ode to islamophobia, Holy Terror) was a 1991 one-shot published under the Elseworlds logo. Holy Terror stars Bruce Wayne, an aspiring clergyman, who after discovering that the Church-run American government was behind the murder of his parents (amongst other atrocities), dons a bat-themed outfit and dispenses his own brand of justice. It’s a surprisingly solid Batman story, featuring interesting takes on classic characters, and a few twists that I genuinely didn’t see coming. Although I still can’t help but laugh at that picture.

 

Colonel Buck Barnes (The White Skull), What If...Captain America Fought in the Civil War (What If: Captain America Issue 1)


Who doesn’t love Bucky? He rocks the robot arm, made a fine Cap’ substitute, and managed to stay dead for a whole lot longer than most other killed off comic book characters. His Earth-717 counterpart, Colonel Buck “Bucky” Barnes, isn’t quite as likable. The cruel and sadistic Colonel Barnes lead an elite regiment of Union Soldiers (that included Earth-717 Steve Rogers), as they tore their way through 1860’s Missouri. Throughout this brilliant What If… story, Colonel Barnes murders innocents, loots villages, and eventually, abandons the Union army to start a white-supremacist group. Not exactly the troubled but kind hearted Bucky we all know and love. Oh, and he has a skull for a head, in case you didn’t notice.

 

Leatherwing, Countdown to Adventure Issue 2


The aforementioned “Nazi Batman”. Y’know, I think that’s enough said.
 

The Love Syndicate of Dreamworld (Animal Man Issue 23)


Although they recently appeared in Grant Morrison’s Multiversity, the Love Syndicate of Dreamworld originated in the 1990’s Animal Man series (another creation of Grant Morrison, and one of my personal favourite comics). Created as a parody of 1960s and 70s drug culture, Sunshine Superman, Speed Freak, and Magic Lantern fight in the name of peace, love, and psychedelia. Groovy.
 

Santa Claus Superman, Superman: At Earth’s End


Before you ask, yes, that is a picture of the Man of Steel shooting not one, but two Hitlers. In a t-shirt. While rocking a sweet Santa-beard. You can’t even compare the absurdity of the Ape Avengers and the Hippy Justice League to the sheer ridiculousness of Superman: At Earth’s End. I mean, look at that gun! And this comic wasn’t even made by Rob Liefeld! Do yourself a favour, and find a copy of At Earth’s End. If you can’t, just read the plot synopsis on Wikipedia, that in and of itself is an experience.


So there you have it folks, the weirdest alternate universe incarnations of superheroes that I could find. These guys may not have the star power of Old Man Logan or Owlman, but they deserve your love nonetheless.  So here’s to you Nazi Batman, may men and women like you never cease to appear on the newsstands.

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