Ten of the Best Flash Multiverse Stories

This article was previously published six years ago at the now-defunct Hero’s Collector website. With The Flash film debuting this week, I thought it was a great time to dust this off and republish it!

Originally publish February, 2017. Reprinted here with formatting and image edits.

Ten of the Best Flash Multiverse Stories

This week The Flash TV series kicked off a storyline featuring a return to Earth-2, one of the many Earths in the multiverse. While the infinite Earths concept may be relatively new to TV viewers, the idea has had a rich and storied history in DC Comics going back over fifty years. There have been many tales that have taken place or featured denizens from a myriad or alternate universes and there are some real gems featuring the, or “a”, Scarlet Speedster. Here are ten of my favorites (in no particular order):

1. “The Flash of Two Worlds!” – The Flash #123 (September, 1961)

Art: Carmine Infantino and Murphy Anderson

The one that stared the whole thing. The original comic featuring college student Jay Garrick as the Flash had been cancelled in 1949, but the premise was revisited ten years later with the character now forensic scientist Barry Allen. When DC wanted to bring back Garrick it was explained that the original speedster, and fellow members of the Justice Society of America, existed on an Earth existing parallel to ours. This seemingly innocent conceit has informed not only the DC Comics Universe for the last 56 years, but also arguably every other comics multiverse. This is the template for them all.

2. “Crisis on Infinite Earths” – (1985)

Art: George Perez

And then, nearly twenty-five years later, it was all over. Having felt that all the alternate Earths featuring so many versions of the Flash and Superman and Batman, et al, had become needlessly complicated and confusing, it was decided to condense them all down to one, singular Earth. In the end, as far as all the multi-versioned characters were concerned, there could be only one. The Barry Allen version of the Flash met his end during the course of the twelve issue series and remained gone until the 2008 sequel.

3. Legends of the DC Universe: Crisis on Infinite Earths – (February, 1999)

Art: Paul Ryan and Bob McLeod

This one issue tale revisited the dimension destroying crisis and featured the end of Earth-D. It is notable in that it features a version of the Justice League whose familiarly-named members encompass a more ethnically diverse background than those of their Earth-One counterparts. Earth-D’s Flash is Japanese and he and his compatriots prove their heroism by evacuating as many inhabitants from their Earth as possible before their entire universe is extinguished.

4. “Flashpoint” – (2011)

Art: Andy Kubert and Sandra Hope

This one changed everything yet again. Two years after restoring the multiverse and returning some much-beloved characters, DC Comics threw everything into the blender again and rebooted their entire comics line. The catalyst for this universe(s)-shattering event was Barry Allen finally deciding to go back in time and save his mother. Much like the TV series, this simple act had huge ramifications in the present day. Barry was no longer the Flash and many other heroes no longer existed or were altered in major ways. Ultimately, Barry decides to take one for the team and undo what he has done, but things don’t go back quite to normal as all the heroes’ costumes got collars and the “New 52” was born.

5. “Crisis on Earth-Three!” – Justice League of America #29 (August, 1964)

Art: Mike Sekowsky and Bernard Sachs

Earth-Three is a bad place. No, really. Everyone who was a hero on the other Earths is a super-criminal here. The Flash is called Johnny Quick and is a nasty piece of work. This story expanded the multiverse even more, but in an unsavory direction. More recent depictions of Earth-Three’s Crime Syndicate of America have gone into even more detail as to just how bad these folks are. Stay away from Earth-Three, there be dragons.

6. “The Barry Allen Story” – The Flash Annual #7 (1994)

Art: Ed Benes

With the end of the multiverse, DC Comics created the Elseworlds brand to be able to tell tales of their heroes on alternate Earths and keep them separate from the established continuity. One of these Elseworlds featured here and tells a different version of the death of Barry Allen and its aftermath. It’s darker and more tragic than what actually happened, but turns out okay in the end. 

7. “Invader From the Dark Dimension!” – The Flash #151 (March, 1965)

Art: Carmine Infantino and Murphy Anderson

This one is on the list primarily because it features one of my favorite villains-turned-heroes, Shade. Additionally, I really like Shade’s idea to commit crimes on Earth-One in order to remain a seemingly law-abiding citizen back home on Earth-Two. Clever, really, until the Flashes of two worlds team up.

8. “The Flash – Fact or Fiction?” – The Flash #179 (May, 1968)

Art: Ross Andru and Mike Esposito

This story introduces yet another Earth to the DC Universe, but with a fun twist. Earth-Prime is meant to be our Earth, meaning there are no super-heroes except in the comics. The Flash enlists the aid of DC Comics editor Julius Schwartz in order to return home. It’s a great comic that any fan of the Flash would enjoy, but those of us of a particular age can’t help but get a little misty-eyed reading it.

9. Earth 2 (July, 2012 – May, 2015)

Art: Ivan Reis, Joe Prado, and Rod Reis

Following the universe-shifting events of Flashpoint, Earth-Two, or rather Earth 2, finally got the spotlight. Jay Garrick is once again a college student, albeit in the present day as opposed to World War II. Eventually this Earth, too, would meet its end…and then replaced…and then recreated. Look, it’s complicated. Just know that this Earth 2, or at least its denizens, are still going strong, including the Flash.

10. “Demon’s Night” – Speed Demon #1 (April, 1996)

Art: Salvador Larroca and Al Milgrom

In 1996 every comic fan’s dreams came true as Marvel and DC co-published a mini-series pitting their heroes against each other. During the series, the universes are merged into one, resulting in the Amalgam Universe. The two companies published several titles that melded one or more heroes and villains, one of which was a mash-up of Ghost Rider, the Flash and Etrigan the Demon. Yes, really. Think of a rhyming Spirit of Vengeance with access to the Speed Force and you sort of get the idea.

“Buildings Burn, People Die, But Real Love Is Forever”

Once again it is that weird time of year for me, the anniversary of the death of Brandon Lee while shooting The Crow. I wrote the below several years ago on Social Media and I thought I would finally commit it to a blog post.

Musings of “that time” from a Studio employee:

In early 1993 I landed a job as a projectionist at what was then known as Carolco Studios in Wilmington, NC. This was a big deal for me as it meant I would be working at an actual film/TV studio. As with all things in the entertainment industry, the job turned out to be not quite as advertised, although in this case that turned out to be a plus. My primary duty would be to run dailies for the various productions that were on the lot. Dailies (also called rushes), for those who don’t know, are the developed film of the previous day’s scenes that have been shot. Productions watch them to see if everything is going OK and to see if any immediate reshoots are necessary. Now that everything is converting to digital, viewing dailies is more or less immediate and there probably isn’t much call for a dailies projectionist any more. In addition to my projectionist duty I also became an apprentice electrician and was based in the lighting warehouse. So, I would also help arrange lighting packages for productions as well as attend to any electrical and/or rewiring work that would be needed. All of that is a long way of saying that I basically was everywhere on the studio lot.

Carolco Studios is known today as EUE/Screen Gems Studios and is the largest production facility outside of California. The studio was originally founded by Dino De Laurentiis in 1984 and was called DEG. De Laurentiis all but abandoned the facilities a few years later and it was purchased by Carolco in 1990. When Carolco went bankrupt, the George Clooney owned EUE/Screen Gems stepped in and purchased the studio in 1996. Since then it has continued to prosper. Recent films such as Iron Man 3 and We’re the Millers were filmed there and the TV series Under the Dome and Sleepy Hollow call the studios home.

Back when I started there were already a few shows in production, primarily the television series Matlock and a film called The Crow. Being a comic book fan, I was immediately drawn to The Crow, of course, and around my third day I got to run some dailies for them. I was early to the viewing theater, but one of the actors was already there, one Mr. Michael Berryman. You probably know Michael from The Hills Have Eyes, Weird Science or the Motley Crue video for “Smokin’ In the Boys Room.” In The Crow. Michael played the Skull Cowboy, sort of a guide to Brandon Lee’s Eric Draven. If you don’t remember the Skull Cowboy being in the film, you have excellent recall. His scenes were filmed, but never added to the final edit. Real life events, which I relate below, changed the story somewhat and, sadly, the Skull Cowboy and Michael’s awesome performance were left out.

For all the creepy, scary and downright nasty characters he plays, Michael Berryman is one of the coolest and most soft-spoken people I have ever met. He introduced himself that first day like he assumed I had no idea who he was. We chatted a bit before the rest of the cast and crew arrived and a little bit afterwards. He was in town filming his scenes for a few more days and he always made sure to hang out and chat when he saw me. Great guy and I hope to run into him again someday and catch up. (If you are ever at a convention or horror show that he is appearing at I highly encourage you to say hello to him. And be sure to ask him if he still surfs off the coast of New York…).

To say that the production of The Crow was a tough one would be an understatement. The show shot very long hours, mostly at night and there were a couple of accidents that had occurred prior to my time at the studio. A carpenter was severely burned and nearly electrocuted; there were a couple of the crew involved in car accidents and a studio worker accidentally stabbed himself in the hand with a screwdriver. That and a couple of other incidents later lead to people calling the film cursed. Here’s the thing, every film and TV production has its share of accidents and mishaps, however the general public rarely hears about them unless it serves to further sensationalize a larger story. I can say that the cast and crew of The Crow were top-notch professionals and behaved as such 100% of the time. They behaved no differently than any other cast and crew and were dedicated to doing their jobs as safely as possible. That just makes what happened to Brandon Lee all the more tragic…

On March 30th I had the good fortune to run into Brandon just outside of the projection room. We had a short conversation, mainly consisting of him asking me what I thought of the footage so far. As a studio employee I mainly kept 9-5 hours and went home that day just like any other. Arriving to work the next day there was a noticeably somber attitude from some of the people I passed. The studio head called down to our department and asked us all to gather in one of the shops with the rest of the studio employees right away, which was unusual. Once everyone was assembled we were informed that there had been an accident early that morning involving Brandon Lee and a firearm and he was currently at the local hospital in critical condition. Obviously, we were all shocked. The Crow was on suspension, but there were other active productions so we all went about our work as best we could.

There was never a moment where any of us thought that Brandon would not make it through this. From what details we were given, the projectile had lodged near his spine, so our biggest fear was that he might end up paralyzed. Also, no one cared about the details above what we were told. That was irrelevant, one of our own was hurt and that’s all that mattered. I happened to be doing some work in the front office just after lunch when I saw a PA walking by from the direction of The Crow office. She was crying. With a cold chill I just knew that the worst had happened. A few minutes later my boss walked by and told me the news that Brandon had died. Those of us not needed for the rest of the day went home. Before we left, the studio head had the unenviable task of reminding everyone that we were not to talk to the press about this. I thought that was rather puzzling… until I drove off the lot.

There were already several news vans camped out just off the studio property and everyone who left that day was accosted by several reporters and their cameramen in an attempt to stop us and get a story. Thankfully no one obliged. The studio and production company issued statements and updates to the press and during that time no one spoke out of turn. Any reports from then that cite “unnamed insiders close to the production” invariably reference some kooky conspiracy theory or are an extrapolation upon existing information. No one cracked, no one talked, we all respected Brandon way too much for that. It was a strange few days. I was followed twice upon leaving work, once to a gas station, the second time all the way to my home, and offered four figures to give information regarding the accident. I refused, appalled at the audacity of the news sharks. It was surreal to come home from work and see random shots of the studio on the evening news and the tabloid news programs, even unknowingly being in some of the footage that was shown. Then, of course, the rumors and conspiracies started.

The next day we were all gathered again and told the facts of what had occurred. A poorly-crimped blank had caused a bullet tip to become lodged in the barrel of the prop gun while shooting close ups. When a blank went off the following night during filming of the next scene, the bullet tip was discharged much like an actual bullet. No conspiracies, no curse, no murder plot. Just a stupid, silly mistake, nothing more sinister than that. The police were on site that day to investigate and eventually reached the same conclusion. They viewed a lot of evidence and I was on call in the projection room for much of it. Another strange, emotionally draining day. At some point, someone put up a poem on the door to the production offices. I wish I had a copy of it as I remember it being very moving and very fitting.

The following day everyone from the studio and involved in the film all gathered on one of the soundstages and there was a lot of great words said about Brandon. We were also informed that Brandon’s mother and fiancée wished for the film to be completed to honor him and his final performance. There were only eight days left of filming, but it was decided to shut down production for two months, rethink a few key things and then return to finish. It was weird walking around the sets that were left standing, but it definitely felt right to finish the film. Once they resumed production, the film was completed in a couple of weeks and then that was that. A month or so before the film’s release date, the producers rented out a theater and invited everyone who had worked on the film or was part of Carolco Studios to watch it. There was silence throughout and all of us got goosebumps when “For Brandon and Eliza…” came up on the screen at the end of the film. There was a standing ovation and not a dry eye in the house. It was and is a beautiful film and a wonderful tribute to Brandon Lee.

Looking back nearly thirty years later I can still clearly remember so much of what happened during that time, both before and after that tragic day. Occasionally I’ll come across something about The Crow on a website, more so now that there is talk of a remake. Everyone seems to still want to make Brandon’s death into something mysterious. Even the places that call it an accident do so in a way that lends an air of uncertainty to it. Again, really, truly, it was a stupid, stupid accident with no hint of any malice or superstitious nonsense attached to it. The Crow will always be a very special film to me, even if it is sometimes somewhat difficult to watch. I know exactly which scenes were filmed after Brandon’s death and it makes it all the more emotional to watch. That was a strange moment in an overall strange chapter in my life, but I am glad that I was a part of it and happy to remember Brandon as a regular guy who loved doing what he was doing.

…what we leave behind is not as important as how we’ve lived…

The other day we got the first teaser poster for the new series Star Trek: Picard. I remember way back in 1986 when the cast for a new Star Trek show was announced. It is with no small amount of hyperbole that I say a new Trek show was a Very. Big. Deal. at the time. What became a franchise only ever existed through the frame of the original series crew and it was a pretty seismic shift to accept that there would be not only a new TV series, but one set a century after the adventures we were accustomed to featuring a completely unknown starship Enterprise and a crew that was brand new.

I was working at a radio station after school at the time and we got copies of the Hollywood Reporter and Daily Variety, bot of which I would read during my shift. I remember being excited finding out that the dude from Dune and Excalibur, both films I have a large amount of affection for, would be starring as the new captain. An actor known primarily for film roles heading up a little sci-fi show seemed to bode well for what we were in store for.

And now, to see Patrick Stewart return to the role over fifteen years after he seemed to punctuate the end of his run is pretty phenomenal. I mean, nowadays everything is being revived and/or rebooted, but it seemed as if the time of Star Trek: The Next Generation and Captain Picard was over on-screen, forever immortalized in continuing adventures in novels. To once again shine the spotlight on a beloved character nearly two decades on and played by the original actor is a real treat.

I think a lot of fans are anticipating and even expecting this to be a “where are they now” whirlwind update of the TNG crew and I suspect those folks will be greatly disappointed. By all accounts this is going to be a very different story with a markedly change man from the one we knew. This isn’t picking up with an Enterprise crew getting unstuck from amber. I wouldn’t be surprised if everyone other than Jean-Luc got only a passing mention, at least in the first season. The focus is right there on the tin, Picard.

At any rate, I, for one, am really looking forward to this next step in the current Star Trek renaissance and am very happy that it is unfolding in serialized fashion over several parts instead of just a nostalgia-grab event film. Engage and make it so!

Well, That Didn’t Go To Plan

So, yeah, my cunning plan to change this into a full time blog kinda went pear-shaped. It’s been nearly two years since I’ve actually posted anything. In the meantime, I’ve written for several anthologies (see the sidebar over there on the right) and have been working on a novel and now another short story. So, yes, I’ve been writing, just not here. Oh, my podcast sort of went on permanent hiatus and I lost a couple of fulltime writing gigs. Ok, bad form all around. Let’s give this another shot and see what happens?

Whither Joss Whedon?

On Sunday, producer and architect Kai Cole published an op-ed piece at The Wrap about her ex-husband, Joss Whedon, claiming that he had spent most of their fifteen year marriage being unfaithful and gaslighting her. As word spread about the article, its contents were not only shocking, but bitterly disappointing to his legion of fans, a group that includes myself. On Monday, the Joss Whedon fansite, Whedonesque made the decision to cease operation as an ongoing website after fifteen years of reporting on and discussion of news related to Whedon and his various projects. Whedon himself had even visited and posted to the site over the years. Amidst all the outcry and anguish, there has been a vocal minority who has questioned whether this should detract from Whedon being a feminist or even if it is really all of that big of a deal.

For those saying that Joss Whedon cheating on his wife is nobody’s business but theirs, or that hey, that’s Hollywood and this doesn’t mean he’s not a feminist still, this article by The Sunday Morning Herald columnist Clementine Ford is worth your time to read and highlights why this is indeed a pretty big deal. I find it a big deal for personal and professional reasons, as well as from the perspective of being an admirer of his. I think he owes it to a lot of people, most especially his now-ex wife, to address this. Yeah, he’s ultimately just a working stiff like all the rest of us, but he took up a banner and positioned himself as a warrior for an extremely important cause that he failed to follow.Turns out, he really wasn’t the feminist that he emphatically claimed to be. And, if this is all true, he turned out to be a pretty terrible human being. Yes, terrible human being. To subject another to years of humiliation and emotional abuse while at the same time doing everything you can to convince them that it is all in their head is one the most inhuman things you can do to another person, short of physically torturing or murdering them.

What is also hugely disappointing is thinking that there must have been friends and colleagues of both Cole and Whedon who knew this was going on, yet said nothing to Cole or took Whedon aside and pointed out that what he was doing was wrong. As Whedon is wont to work with a lot of the same people both behind and in front of the camera, these friends and colleagues would include a number of other people whose work I enjoy and I professionally admire. That’s pretty troublesome as well, that they would say nothing. Then again, perhaps he was very good at hiding it, but, at the very least, the folks he was having affairs with would surely know he was married and that the infidelity was in serious contrast to his supposed feminist beliefs. Much like an political scandal, I think in this case it is also important to know who knew what and when. I’m not saying I plan to boycott everything that Whedon is involved with going forward, but I’m certainly not interested in supporting anything wholly of his creation and I would seriously consider not paying for or viewing any productions and/or creations by anyone who helped him keep this a secret.

For the record, I don’t doubt Cole’s claims, especially since she cites a letter that Whedon wrote her confessing to everything. Also, in the interest of full disclosure, I should say that I went through something similar to what Cole went through, except in a non-celebrity manner and over a much smaller time scale. I absolutely know how demoralizing it can be and how it can make you question your sanity.So, yes, I absolutely believe her and applaud her for finally talking about it. I’m sure it was hugely cathartic for her and has helped her come to terms with it and, perhaps, take another step towards moving on. I can’t imagine what kind of backlash she has surely faced, because people like to defend their heroes, even in the face of evidence that they don’t deserve the pedestal they’ve been placed on. So yes, my views of this are most assuredly skewed and I’m absolutely giving this more weight and time than it probably deserves. However, I feel that it is worth separating the man from the myth and from the cause of feminism, because he can be damaged and broken without doing the same thing to what he supposedly stood for. The message remains the same even if the messenger needs to change.