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For the Arrowverse alternate timeline, see Arrowverse: Elseworlds.

 Main article: Imaginary Stories

Elseworlds is the publication imprint for a group of comic books produced by DC Comics that take place outside of the company's canon.

Unlike its Marvel Comics counterpart What If...?, which bases its stories on a single point of divergence from the regular continuity, most Elseworlds stories instead take place in entirely self-contained continuities whose only connection to the canonical DC continuity are the presence of familiar DC characters.


Imaginary Stories

 Main article: Imaginary Stories

For several years from the late 1950s[1] to the mid-1980s, particularly during the 1960s Silver Age of Comic Books era, DC Comics published various stories about their title characters which did not take place in their regular continuity. Most of these stories were labeled "Imaginary Stories" and featured alternate histories of characters. Although the majority of Imaginary Stories were published in various Superman comics, a few Imaginary Stories appeared in Batman comics and other DC publications.

Since Imaginary Stories were set out of continuity, writers were allowed to write tales that altered the status quo or would be not possible in the main continuity such as Superman being murdered by Lex Luthor (Superman #149), Superman being split into two selves and succeeding in all of his goals (Superman #162), Jimmy Olsen getting married to Supergirl (Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen #57) or Batman considering retirement (Batman #300).

The last official "Imaginary Story" ever published under that name was Alan Moore's "Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?" that appeared in Superman #423 and Action Comics #583 (September 1986). The Elseworlds series of self-contained stories are essentially Imaginary Stories under a newer label and a wider scope of possibilities.

The Elseworlds Imprint

Batman - Gotham by Gaslight 1

Gotham by Gaslight — A Tale of the Batman; illustration by Mike Mignola

Batman: Gotham by Gaslight was published in 1989 and the story featured a Victorian Age version of the superhero Batman hunting Jack the Ripper, who has come to Gotham City. This title was not originally published as an Elseworlds comic, but the success of this concept lead to the Elseworlds concept and this title was retroactively declared the first Elseworlds. The first Elseworlds story was actually Batman: Holy Terror, published in 1991.

DC continued to publish stories under the orignal Eleseworlds imprint until 2003. Around the time of the release of Batman: Detective No. 27, editor Mike Carlin noted that DC had scaled back the production of Elseworlds books in order to "put the luster back on them." Several titles that were announced as Elseworlds books prior to this have yet to see publication, such as Superman & Batman: Generations IV (announced by John Byrne but canceled due to poor sales and negative critical reception of Superman & Batman: Generations III (Volume 1)), Superboy's Legion 2 (rumored sequel by Alan Davis; presumably planned after he had finished Justice League: Another Nail (Volume 1)) and The Teen Titans Swingin' Elseworlds Special (canceled, possibly due to controversial material concerning John F. Kennedy; eventually published as Teen Titans Lost Annual #1).

However, in 2024, DC would revive the Elseworlds imprint[2] starting with the 12-issue miniseries Batman: Gotham by Gaslight: The Kryptonian Age (Volume 1).

Notable titles

Batman Golden Streets of Gotham

Other Elseworlds titles include Justice League: The Nail (Volume 1), which theorizes a world without Superman, in which the Justice League of America has still been formed, but chaos reigns without a proper champion of the world's ideals. In Batman: I, Joker, a futuristic Gotham City is led by a cult that follows Batman's descendant, a self-proclaimed god known only as "the Bruce". In Flashpoint, Barry Allen (the Flash) takes a bullet meant for John F. Kennedy, paralyzing him from the neck down. In Thrillkiller, Batgirl and Robin fight a female Joker in the 1960s. Superman: Red Son ponders Superman growing up in the Soviet Union instead of the United States and later succeeding Stalin as the Soviet Premier. In Elseworld's Finest: Supergirl & Batgirl, Lex Luthor kills both a newly-landed baby Kal-El and Barbara Gordon's parents, prompting Supergirl and Batgirl to become the protectors of Metropolis and Gotham City, respectively.

One of the most famous Elseworlds titles is Kingdom Come (Volume 1), a miniseries in which a new, violent generation of superheroes replaces the idealism of DC's classic heroes, and the conflict between the two groups ignites an apocalyptic battle. The Kingdom (Volume 1) is the sequel to Kingdom Come and formally established the concept of Hypertime.

To readers of DC comics, Elseworlds can fall under any writing style not affiliated with the DC Universe. Titles like Batman: The Dark Knight Returns (1986), Superman: Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow? (1986), Batman Chronicles #21 (May 2000, which was solicited as an Elseworlds title but had no logo), Bizarro Comics (June 2001, which featured the story "Letitia Lerner, Superman's Babysitter" from the destroyed Elseworlds 80-Page Giant #1), The Dark Knight Strikes Again (Volume 1) (2001), and Superman: Secret Identity (Volume 1) (2004) were referred to as Elseworlds in the DC Universe without having the imprint's logo. Except when otherwise noted, most of the stories in the monthly series Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight (Volume 1) are considered canon, even though some stories in it have tales of Batman in the future, which are considered non-canon. In 1994, DC Comics Elseworlds collaborated with the DC yearly summer Annual edition comic books.



Related Articles

See Also

  1. While Superman #183 retroactively proclaimed that "Superman, Cartoon Hero!" (a reprint of "Superman, Matinee Idol!" from Superman #19) was the "Very First Imaginary Story!", the concept of imaginary stories was created only years after it was first published.
  2. https://www.dc.com/blog/2023/10/10/nycc-2023-dc-announces-the-return-of-elseworlds-in-2024

Wikipedia This page uses content from Wikipedia. The original article was at Elseworlds. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. The text of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
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This comic issue, event, or limited series takes place in its own separate continuity as an Elseworlds story; although it may exist within a larger Elseworlds continuity as part of its series. This includes both titles with the Elseworlds Logo, and titles retroactively declared as Elseworlds Stories.
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Elseworlds Batman Batman Chronicles #11Batman Chronicles #21The Batman of ArkhamBatman: BloodstormBatman: The Blue, the Grey, and the BatBatman: Book of the DeadBatman: Brotherhood of the BatBatman: Castle of the BatBatman: Crimson MistBatman: Dark AllegiancesBatman: Dark Knight DynastyBatman: Dark Knight of the Round TableBatman: Detective No. 27Batman: The Doom That Came to GothamBatman: The Golden Streets of GothamBatman: Gotham by GaslightBatman: Gotham NoirBatman: Haunted GothamBatman: Hollywood KnightBatman: Holy TerrorBatman: I, JokerBatman: In Darkest KnightBatman: League of BatmenBatman: ManbatBatman: MasqueBatman: Master of the FutureBatman: NevermoreBatman: Nine LivesBatman: The Order of BeastsBatman: Red RainBatman: Reign of TerrorBatman: Scar of the BatBatman: ThrillkillerBatman: Year 100Batman/Dark Joker: The WildBatman/Demon: A TragedyBatman/Houdini: Devil's WorkshopBatman/LoboCatwoman: Guardian of GothamRobin 3000
Superman Kamandi: At Earth's EndSon of SupermanSuperboy's LegionSupergirl: WingsSuperman, Inc.Superman: A Nation DividedSuperman: At Earth's EndSuperman: The Dark SideSuperman: Distant FiresSuperman: KalSuperman: The Last Family of KryptonSuperman: Last Son of EarthSuperman: Last Stand on KryptonSuperman: Red SonSuperman: Speeding BulletsSuperman: True BritSuperman: War of the WorldsSuperman/Tarzan: Sons of the JungleSuperman/Wonder Woman: Whom Gods Destroy
World's Finest Batman: Two FacesElseworlds 80-Page Giant #1Elseworld's FinestElseworld's Finest: Supergirl & BatgirlSuperman & Batman: Doom LinkSuperman & Batman: GenerationsSuperman and Batman: World's FunnestThe Superman Monster
Trinity Batman: NosferatuSuperman's MetropolisWonder Woman: The Blue Amazon
Green Lantern Green Lantern: 1001 Emerald NightsGreen Lantern: Evil's Might
JLA/JSA JLA: Act of GodJLA: Age of WonderJLA: Created EqualJLA: DestinyJLA: Island of Dr. MoreauJLA: Riddle of the BeastJLA: Secret Society of Super-HeroesJLA: Shogun of SteelJSA: The Liberty FilesJustice League: The NailJustice League: Another NailJustice RidersJSA: The Golden AgeKingdom ComeLeague of JusticePlanetary/JLA: Terra Occulta
Other ConjurorsFlashpointTitans: Scissors, Paper, StoneWonder Woman: Amazonia

Annuals Action Comics Annual #6Adventures of Superman Annual #6Batman Annual #18Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight Annual #4Batman: Shadow of the Bat Annual #2Catwoman Annual (Volume 2) #1Deathstroke the Terminator Annual #3Detective Comics Annual #7The Flash Annual (Volume 2) #7Green Lantern Annual (Volume 3) #3Justice League America Annual #8Justice League International Annual #5L.E.G.I.O.N. Annual #5Legionnaires Annual #1Legion of Super-Heroes Annual (Volume 4) #5Lobo Annual (Volume 2) #2New Titans Annual #10Robin Annual (Volume 2) #3Steel Annual (Volume 2) #1Superboy Annual (Volume 4) #1Superman Annual (Volume 2) #6Superman: The Man of Steel Annual #3Team Titans Annual #2

Related Alternate TimelinesAmalgam UniverseImaginary StoriesIntercompany CrossoversJust ImagineMultiversePossible FuturesRealworlds
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