Alternate realities have interested comic book fans since the introduction of the multiverse in The Flash #123. We’ve always wondered what would happen to our own lives if we could tweak one major thing, and we’ve gotten to live out those fantasies in the lives of our favorite fictional characters.
Elseworlds stories offer us the chance to answer any absurd comic question we have and let it weave itself out without affecting the main continuity. Some of these Elseworlds are much, much scarier than others, and here we get to take a look at 10 Elseworlds we certainly wouldn’t want to live in.
10 Justice Riders
”What if the Justice League of America took place in the Wild West?” Chuck Dixon answered this question when he wrote this one-shot back in 1997. Diana Prince is a US Marshall in 1873, and her town is destroyed by Professor Felix Faust. She embarks on a quest of vengeance against Maxwell Lord and is joined by familiar faces of the DCU, just as cowboys.
Blue Beetle and Booster Gold are a team of scientist-mercenaries, Wally West is a gunslinger, and Hawkman is a Native American warrior. The Justice Riders live in a land with few heroes and even fewer rules, making it a quirky yet dangerous Elseworld to join our list.
9 Batman Year 100
In this miniseries, Batman stars in an Orwellian style Gotham City in the year 2039. The citizens of Gotham City live in a near-police state, subjected to constant seizures and unwarranted searches. The main characters are descendants of Jim Gordan and Bruce Wayne, and the Batman is an urban legend that the futuristic Wayne has brought back to fight against the totalitarian government.
A neat fact about the timeline in this series is that Batman ages with his publication, so his first sighting was in 1939 and the rest of the events coincide with the years they were published. This may sound impossible, given Batman’s long history, but the mantle is passed down and it makes for a great read.
8 Superman: The Dark Side
Written by John Francis Moore and published in 1998, Superman: Dark Side tells the story of what would happen if Kal-El’s ship landed on Apokolips as opposed to Earth. The ship was intercepted by Mertron on its way to Earth and brought to Darkseid. This results in Superman being raised as a disciple and conqueror of Darkseid.
He is a large player in the war against New Genesis and is the greatest warrior of Apokolips. He eventually has a change of heart after landing on Earth as an adult, but the idea of an evil Superman has always been a frightening one.
This Elseworld was made popular in outside media by the crossover of the same name in the Arrowverse television shows. An alternate earth where the Axis Powers won World War II, this earth is controlled by Nazi members of the Justice League.
Superman is raised by Adolf Hitler himself and dubbed “Overman.” Leading the New Reichsmen, Overman fights against the rebellious Freedom Fighters in order to secure the German utopia they have created.
6 Superman: Red Son
Superman gets handed over to a different tyrant in the pages of Superman: Red Son. He is raised by Joseph Stalin after being discovered in Ukraine and becomes the “champion of the common worker who fights a never-ending battle for Stalin." He is opposed by a rebellious Batman and American genius Alexander Luthor.
Unlike other Superman Elseworlds stories, Superman still has the kind-hearted, caring nature that the Man of Steel is famous for today. The comic is popular for exploring the Nature vs Nurture debate, as we see Superman doubt himself in his actions.
5 Batman: The Doom That Came To Gotham
Probably the most obscure entry on this list, this miniseries was written by Mike Mignola, notably famous for his creation of Hellboy. The small but action-packed run merges together the worlds of Gotham City and the Cthulu mythos in a unique addition to Batman’s history.
As sorcerer Ra’s Al Ghul plans to raise a “thing,” Batman is the only one strong enough to stop him. The series also provides unique takes on Green Arrow, Poison Ivy, Mr. Freeze, and probably the most disturbing take on Two-Face in the character’s publication. A must-read for any Batman or horror comics fan.
Although not printed under the Elseworlds label, Flashpoint fits all of the qualifications of an Elseworld storyline, and it’s become too much of an iconic story to neglect. There’s an animated movie adaptation, The Flash TV show “adapted” it in Season 3, and the first Flash movie is rumored to adapt this storyline.
After years of trying to get over his mother’s death, Barry Allen decides to use his powers to travel back in time and save her. The aftershocks throughout the timestream are nothing less than catastrophic, and the entire world pays for Barry’s decision. What makes this world so dangerous is the Amazonia-Atlantis War between Aquaman and Wonder Woman, which has already destroyed most of Europe. The miniseries by the great Geoff Johns has earned its way into the hearts of Flash fans and DC readers ever since.
Also not an Elseworld story, Injustice has earned its spot among the most popular alternate versions of the DC Universe. After the brutal execution of The Joker, Superman constructs a regime that eventually controls the entire world. He is joined by most of the Justice League, except for Batman, who creates a rebellion insurgency against the tyrannical rule of Superman.
The story behind Injustice spans over hundreds of issues and two video games (so far!) and gives us the most accurate and popular interpretation of what would happen if Superman became evil.
As this article is being written, DCeased is an ongoing miniseries that has been highly anticipated and enjoyed since its original reveal. Tom Taylor, the mastermind behind most of Injustice’s lore, presents us with another extremely entertaining alternate Earth that is basically DC’s version of Marvel Zombies.
After Cyborg is kidnapped, tortured, and injected with the Anti-life equation by Darkseid, he accidentally releases a techno-virus throughout all forms of technology on Earth. 600 million people are infected, and the heroes of the DC Universe are baffled as to how to stop it. Unlike the other entries, DCeased being an ongoing series definitely gives it the advantage where we have no idea how it will end, and we certainly can not wait.
1 Kingdom Come
Could it have been any other story? Not just the most famous Elseworld storyline, but one of the most beloved and respected storylines in all of comics, Kingdom Come is masterfully crafted by writer Mark Waid and artist Alex Ross. Readers are introduced to a bleak world where our known superheroes have slowly abandoned their roles in society, where an anti-hero named Magog has earned public support after he kills The Joker.
After a destructive fight between Magog and Parasite, Wonder Woman convinces Superman to come back into the public eye, and the two reform the Justice League. Meanwhile, Batman groups together his own team of superheroes labeled “Outsiders.” The two groups' ideals come into conflict throughout the story, but to avoid spoiling this amazing comic, that is where the description ends.
Which one of these alternate realities do you think would be the scariest to live in? Let us know in the comments below!