Category Archives: REED IT

Infinite Worlds: A Brief History of the Comic Book Multiverse

Map of the Multiverse
A map of the new DC multiverse

Both DC Comics’ Multiversity series and Marvel Comics’ Edge of Spider-Verse event showcase characters from multiple parallel universes (that is, a “multiverse”).  These two series are not the first time that the multiverse concept has been used by DC and Marvel.  Over the years, the publishers have each established a multiverse of parallel universes in their respective comics, and the concept has become a popular element of superhero comics.

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Hulk Origin
Instant mutations – like the transformation of Dr. Banner into the Hulk – caused by radiation or other substances are common in comic books.

Scientist Barry Allen is covered in lightning-charged chemicals, giving him the power of super-speed; Allen becomes the superhero The Flash.  A quartet of astronauts are exposed to cosmic rays and become the super-powered Fantastic Four.  Dr. Bruce Banner is blasted with gamma radiation and transforms into the monstrous Hulk.  Puny Steve Rogers takes a super-soldier serum and becomes the superhero Captain America.  Peter Parker is bitten by a radioactive spider and develops superpowers that he uses to fight crime as Spider-Man.

Instant physical or mental changes resulting from exposure to a mutagenic catalyst like radiation or chemicals are a trope in comic books, often used to explain the extraordinary abilities of both superheroes and supervillains.  This trope was inspired by experiments conducted on fruit flies in the 1920s.

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Aces High: The World War One Air Aces of the Comics

aces high 3
ACES HIGH #3 – Cover by George Evans

Today marks the 100th anniversary of the beginning of World War I (July 28, 1914).  This global war lasted four years and mobilized over 70 million military personnel; it was a destructive, deadly conflict that introduced new technologies and tactics to warfare, particularly in the area of aviation. Fixed-wing aircraft were used to observe enemy movements, strafe ground troops, and for aerial combat.  The achievements of the aviators who flew these aircraft were often propagandized by the pilots’ respective governments – France was the first country to award the designation of “ace” to pilots that shot down a certain number of enemy aircraft; other countries adopted this practice. After the war, these WWI “aces” were romanticized in American movies like The Dawn Patrol and Hell’s Angels.  However, American comic books have portrayed the WWI aces in a more ambiguous manner.

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