This post originally appeared on Panels, which is now Book Riot Comics
Meet Jess and Jenn. Jess has a major in DC and a minor in Daredevil, with a smattering of other Marvel stuff here and there. Jenn is spelunking aimlessly through comics, figuring things out as she goes. In this episode, Jess explains Batman’s secret paternity feelings, the ways of the multiverse, the marriage customs of Krypton, and more.
Jenn: Jess! I just found this.
Written by Gerry Conway
Art by Dick Dillin and George Perez
Do you know anything about this and/or can explain to me why Batman is suddenly allowed to have feels?
SEKRIT PATERNITY FEELS.
Jess: I can totally splain those panels!
Jenn: Excuse me while I die over the “lawyer or steel-worker” comp.
Jess: The vacationingest of jobs!
So back in the late 70s/early 80s DC was big into their multiverse, which, short background on that: DC created their original stable of characters during World War II: Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, Flash, etc., but superheroes fell out of favor after the war and a lot of those characters stopped showing up.
Starting in the mid-50s they revamped a lot of the characters they hadn’t been using for a while as new versions that were Hip for the Kidz. (This being the atomic age, Hip for the Kidz usually meant “space cop.” Green Lantern? He’s a space cop now. Hawkman? Space cop. BIRD space cop.)
Jenn: SPACE COPS!
Space good, war bad. Got it.
Jess: To fight the SPACE COMMIES probably.
Jess: Then the new Flash, Barry Allen (SCIENCE cop, which is almost as good as space cop) discovered that he could travel to other dimensions by VIBRATING HIS MOLECULES, because you can get away with anything in comics if you use the word “molecules” in the explanation.
So he and his molecules traveled to a parallel Earth, where he met the old Flash, Jay Garrick, and it turned out that all of those characters from World War II were living in this alternate dimension, which Barry dubbed Earth-2 because he is self-involved. If you’re watching The Flash this season there’s a lot of this action going on.
Jenn: Soooo …
Is parallel Earth where superheroes go to retire?
When they are tired of fighting commies?
Jess: No, they had always lived there! Earth-2 was where all those WWII (i.e. Golden Age) comics took place. So Jay had always lived on Earth-2 and Barry had always lived on Earth-1… but for characters who HADN’T gotten a sexy space cop makeover, there were two versions of them. A young, hip Clark Kent on Earth-1, an older statesman Clark Kent on Earth-2. A young, hip Bruce Wayne on Earth-1, an older statesman Bruce Wayne on Earth-2. Make sense?
Jenn: OOOOH. Got it.
Jess: And because these were “spare” versions of the characters, the writers could play around with them more, like having Clark and Bruce get married. Not to each other, though. They couldn’t play around THAT much.
But to Lois and Selina respectively.
Jenn: I ship it. All versions of it.
Jess: We’ll have to wait for Batman v. Superman for the Bruce/Clark wedding. I’m guessing.
Jenn: Headcanon: accepted.
Jess: So over on Earth-1 the premiere superhero team was the Justice League, but on Earth-2 it was the Justice Society, and every year the Justice League comic would have a teamup with the JSA and they’d all fight combined villains from Earth-1 (gorillas!) and Earth-2 (probably evil violinists and stuff).
Which is what gives Earth-2’s Dr. Mid-Nite the chance to take cheap shots at steel workers over cheap diner coffee with Superman (that’s the Earth-1 Superman, you can tell because his temples are a sexy black instead of a stately white).
Jenn: At a diner with a stage and a spotlight for the Huntress to stand seductively in, no less.
Is she doing karaoke? I can’t tell.
Jess: I cannot explain why Huntress is drinking water with her eyes closed while standing in a single spotlight, or how a purple bathing suit and thigh-high boots is supposed to indicate “hunter who stalks the night,” but —
GOD I WISH.
Jenn: And while you cannot see his face exactly it’s hard to read that look from Batman as “paternal”…
Jess: ALSO Earth-2 Catwoman, her mom, is straight-up dead, so he’s being super weird about that. “If only MY Catwoman were dead!” he thinks pensively. “What a lucky guy my counterpart is!”
AND OH MY GOD EARTH-1 BATMAN AND EARTH-2 HUNTRESS HAVE ALWAYS BEEN SUPER CREEPY. Especially after Earth-2 Batman ALSO dies and she starts getting real grabby with Earth-1 Batman. “You’re like my dad, but alive! And also young and hot! LET’S TOUCH A LOT.” :/ :/ :/
Jenn: Is Catwoman actually dead or comics-dead?
Jess: Actually dead, murdered by her former criminal associates which inspired Helena to TAKE UP HER DARK MANTLE *cue bats flying everywhere*
I don’t know how to feel about Earth-1 Batman and Earth-2 Huntress.
To be fair, they probably don’t either.
Jess: Come feel gross about it with me!
Also gross: Earth-1 Superman and Power Girl, who is the Earth-2 counterpart of Supergirl, HIS FIRST COUSIN.
But then, Earth-1 Superman was also pretty gross with Supergirl directly, so.
It’s a gross multiverse party.
Jenn: OH MY GOD HER FACE.
IN THAT SECOND PANEL.
Jess: SHE IS NOT INTO IT.
Jenn: OH MY GOD.
It’s good to know that the Kryptonians have strict views on these things.
Also Superman please stop touching her chin.
Jess: That’s not even the creepiest Supergirl’s romances got in the Silver Age — next time let me tell you about the horse.
Do you have something you want fansplained? Let us know in the comments!