Also known as "the real world
" before MTV came along, and Ultraa
, Earth Prime
is one of an infinite number of alternate realities, according to the Silver Age
of DC Comics
. It's supposed to be where the reader of the story exists, in relation to the other realities running around in comic books. However, things aren't always as they seem. It's sort of like the Santa Claus
Dilemma. You tell these stories to young people, and some of them believe you but some smart aleck kids go, "if there really is a Superman how come I only see him in the comic books and not the evening news?"
Writers of comics had to come up with explanations for that. Originally, comic book writers and publishers pretended that all comic book stories took place in "the real world." That your world and my world were the same as Wonder Woman
's world and Plastic Man
's world, and the fact no one ever found a Paradise Island
here in the real world? Well that's just cuz they don't know where to look
. This theory worked during the Golden Age
of comics, when allegedly young people weren't all that bright.
So over a period of time, DC Comics introduced this idea of a multiverse in which the universe was filled with an infinite number of possibilities. We happened to exist in a world where no superheroes are seen up in the sky or down a dark alley. However, that doesn't mean the possibility ceases to exist. It's just out there in an alternate reality, all of its molecules vibrating at a slightly different frequency than our own, which is why we can't see it. Sounds like more of the Santa Claus Dilemma eh? Well, it worked from about 1956 to 1985. A lot of young people bought it. A lot of grown-ups even bought it because it's such a cool concept. Superman and all those costumed vigilantes allegedly existed in a universe codenamed Earth-1, and you and me coexisted in an alternate plane of reality called Earth Prime, where the exploits of superheroes are just tales in comic books. Cool concept, but some people still didn't buy it. There's a point where you can suspend disbelief and enjoy the story on its own merits, but then some comic book writers came along to play with the whole idea. At first they'd just have fun little stories in which the superheroes might meet their own comic book title's writers and artists. Then Earth Prime started actually becoming a focal point of some stories, and sometimes stuff they said about Earth Prime made it sound like maybe Earth Prime isn't really our Earth after all.
Like what? Well, like in the late 1980s, Earth Prime had a major nuclear war. Doesn't sound like our world at all, does it? And a world that's not supposed to have any superheroes in it turned out to have a Superboy and another superhero called Ultraa. So it turned out Earth Prime was never the same world that comic book readers existed in, but another world in which there were no superheroes at all. In the comic book maxi-series Crisis on Infinite Earths, Earth Prime was reportedly destroyed by the Superboy of that Earth, and by this time the multiverse theory was null and void anyway because of the storyline's complications. All the universes were destroyed in the end except for five, which were eventually merged into one.
So I guess that means you and me never existed? Comic books ain't just for breakfast anymore.