The Pocket Universe is a singularly created universe that was developed by the Time Trapper as part of his scheme to control the Legion of Super-Heroes after the Superman of Earth-One was folded into the New Earth reality due to the effects of the Crisis on Infinite Earths, resulting in a new history in which he had never become Superboy.
This change threatened to disrupt the 30th Century timeline of the Legion of Super-Heroes and the histories of all who were a part of it, as it was the superhero efforts of the Earth-One Superboy which inspired the Legion in the first place. Unable to directly access the "Dawn of Time" and change the time stream to be back as it was before the Crisis, the Time Trapper used his massive control over the resulting time-stream to create a small universe that reflected the Pre-Crisis Earth-One reality of Earth and Krypton to a very close level. With that Earth created and Superboy developed almost exactly as in the Earth-One reality, the Time Trapper routed the Legion's time travel machines so they would always be shunted into the Pocket Universe Earth's history rather than their own Earth, which, to reiterate, now had an altered past because of the Crisis.
Unlike the Earth-One universe this pocket dimension only had two populated planets, Earth and Krypton. The Time Trapper deemed only these two necessary to recreate the now missing Earth-One and its Superboy and therefore "pruned" away all other worlds of life. This would explain why no other powered heroes who were dependent on extraterrestrial influence developed on this particular Earth as in other parallel realities.
After establishing himself for several years as a hero and forming the Legion in line with the pre-existing Earth-One incarnation, the Time Trapper reveals him to this Superboy the problem with reality, convincing Superboy to aid him in capturing and killing the Legion, or else all reality be destroyed. When the Legion arrives in Pocket Universe Smallville, they are attacked by Superboy who follows them to the Post-Crisis New Earth.
Thinking they have only jumped a few years forward and not to another entire separate reality, the Legionnaires try to contact Superman, thinking that he is merely an older version of their friend and would explain his earlier actions. When they confront Superman, his powers accidentally activate, leading to the Legion attacking him until Brainiac 5 forces the fighting to stop, whereby discussions can be revealed. It is during the discussions that Superboy arrives and freezes everyone with his immobilizer ray. Superboy loads his four frozen former friends into a time bubble and leaves Superman behind after correctly stating that the adult Kal-El is not the Superman who he would grow up to become. After a few moments Superman begins to regain his mobility and immediately sets off in pursuit of Superboy and the still immobilized Legion members.
Superboy, faster and far more powerful than Superman, prepares to enter the time stream under his own power and leave the primary DC Earth behind. Superman begins to falter behind due to Superboy's vastly greater speed but manages to grab hold of Superboy's booted foot before entering into the actual time stream and is dragged along by Superboy to Superboy's world. Superman comments on how bad the time travel is to him and how impressed he is by the speed that Superboy has at his control that allows him to break the time barrier on his own speed. Superman ultimately loses his grip and falls off the time-stream and crashes into ground not far outside of Pocket Universe's Smallville, where he is found by the younger Pocket Universe Pete Ross, who Clark mentally notes to look only similar to the high schoolmate he once knew, showing the differences between Pre-Crisis and Post-Crisis universes/timelines.
Pete brings Superman to the Kents, believing that his aged appearance is due to Superboy having been exposed to Red Kryptonite that caused him to attack the Legion and aged him to adulthood. However, this is swiftly proven wrong when Superboy appears and attacks Superman, Superboy proclaiming that Superman will interfere with his own efforts to save his world. However, the subsequent fight is comparatively even, as Superboy's superior powers are countered by Superman's own greater experience. Eventually, Jonathan Kent attempts to stop the fight by exposing Superman to multiple samples of Kryptonite, but due to Superman originating from another universe, none of the samples have any effect on him. When Superboy declares that Superman has won after he takes the container of Kryptonite, Superman observes that this actually proves that Superboy never wanted this fight, as he could easily take the Kryptonite from Superman before he was able to properly use it against his counterpart. With this in mind, Superboy frees the recently-captured Legion members and they make plans to confront the Time Trapper, while sending Superman home for his own safety.
As the Legion attack, the Trapper reveals his hold over Superboy to the assembled Legion members, "This never was your past, Legionnaire. Only a whispery possibility I connected you to when you were presumptuous enough to try to travel through time. Each time you 'broke' the time barrier, I sent you here... until this Earth began to fall apart and the jest paled." With that the time Trapper damaged the machinery that held back the destructive energies of the Crisis and left. Once again the red skies began assaulting the Pocket Universe. As the heroes tried to repair the machine, Superboy realized that the only way to repair the machine is to find some way to channel its energies. Lacking the time to find proper insulators to the enormous energies needed to safeguard an entire universe, Superboy jumps into the machine to act as the insulator and allows the universal energies to pass through him. He endures until the pocket universe is moved away from energy waves of the Crisis to some unknown safe locale in the cosmos.
With the world safe, Superboy finally allows himself to collapse. Ma and Pa Kent watch in horror as the Legionnaires try to save the injured Superboy by taking him back to the 30th century. But arriving in the safeguarded future, Superboy dies from his injuries.
It would be revealed later that Superboy was never taken back to his native time but buried in the 30th century though was missing for so long that the Kents gave him a funeral at which time they revealed to the world at large that their son Clark was Superboy. These Kents would die of heartache and grief not too long after that time, shortly before Lex Luthor came to Smallville to try and find Superboy's remaining technology. Exploring Superboy's lab under the Kent house, Luthor found a means of communication with the 'Salvation Zone' and the three Kryptonians within it, helping to release them in the belief that they wished to become Earth's new heroes. However, once they were out of the Zone, they revealed their true identities as criminals General Zod, Zaora, and Quex-Ul, and spent the next few years decimating Earth, with Luthor's technology only just able to hold them back despite such developments as the creation of Supergirl. Eventually, Luthor attempted to make contact with the Superman of New Earth for his help, but by the time they made contact with Superman this Earth had been basically decimated after Zod and his fellows dug tunnels from Earth's oceans to its core, the resulting release decimating Earth's atmosphere.
As the last humans on Earth mounted their final stand, they were all destroyed by Zod and his forces, until Luthor revealed his last weapon to Superman in the form of the last samples of Kryptonite on this Earth, in the remains of Superboy's lab. Aware that these kryptonite samples wouldn't affect him, Superman used the Gold Kryptonite to depower Quex-Ul, Zaora and Zod, but then confirmed that the only remaining survivor on this Earth was the badly-injured SUpergirl. With no way for Superman to return the three to the Phantom Zone, unable to take them back to his Earth to face justice, and afraid of the possibility of them regaining their powers and coming to his Earth if he simply left them on this dying world, Superman was forced to execute the three with the last samples of green kryptonite before he returned to his world with Supergirl.
In the 30th century the Earth of the Pocket Universe was pulled into the New Earth reality to replace the destroyed Earth. However it turned out that the Pocket Universe had slightly different physical laws causing the planet to effectively turn into a giant bomb.
When the Glorithverse was created to retroactively replace Superboy with Mon-El as the inspiration of the Legion of Super-Heroes in history, the purpose for which the Pocket Universe was created became moot. In the wake of the temporal upheavals of Zero Hour, which recreated the Legion of Super-Heroes' timeline, and Infinite Crisis, which modified the New Earth Superman's history to be closer to the Earth-One version and restored the original Pre-Crisis Legion timeline, it can be assumed that the Pocket Universe was retroactively erased from existence, and that Superman's and the Legion's interactions with it became apocryphal.
Points of Interest
- Kal-El / Clark Kent
- Hal Jordan
- Lana Lang
- Lex Luthor
- Oliver Queen
- Pete Ross
- Bruce Wayne
- This reality was identified in Crisis on Infinite Earths: Absolute Edition as Earth-Twenty-Three even though the Time Trapper created it rather than saving it from the Pre-Crisis reality.
- The Pocket Universe was created as a way to maintain Legion of Super-Heroes stories that contained Superboy in them, since the Superman of the New Earth reality created after the Crisis On Infinite Earths with John Byrne's The Man of Steel (Volume 1) reboot never adopted the identity of Superboy.
- While the Pocket Universe explained the existence of Superboy, it did not explain the existence of Mon-El.
- Similarly, the Pocket Universe never explained the existence of the pre-Crisis Supergirl as a member of the Legion of Super-Heroes, and subsequent developments seemingly contradict its initial purpose of maintaining Legion continuity. For instance, Superboy and the Legion had fought against an already-evil Lex Luthor in the past, contradicting the claim that the Pocket Universe's Lex had never gone bad.
- The very existence of the Pocket Universe invalidated Harbinger's claim that there was only one Earth, one history.
- Due to the changes brought on by Infinite Crisis Superman once again was a member of the Legion of Super-Heroes when he was Superboy eliminating the need for a Pocket Universe. However, the Time Trapper remarks how he tried to confound the Legion with pocket dimensions, showing that he still remembers the Pocket Universe in spite of its retroactive erasure from history.