The Multiversity Guidebook poses a lot of questions…
Who is The Empty Hand? What is the true nature of The Gentry and how are they linked to The Empty Hand? Why are the Little Leaguers robots? What Earth did Hannibal Lecter Sivana come from? How exactly does the heirarchy of comic book window-watching actually function? What are the seven unlisted Earths? Is one of them the Anti-Matter Earth? Shouldn’t one of them be the Anti-Matter Earth? What is Ultraa Comics and how does Earth-33 exist in relation to our real-reality? Why does the Marvel Family of Earth-5 seemingly commune with a Shazam at a Rock of Eternity that is totally different than Geoff Johns’ New 52 version? Why have some Earths clearly NOT been affected by Flashpoint? Which Earths specifically have not been affected by Flashpoint? Why are KNOWN alternate Earths (such as those belonging to Batman 66, Injustice, and other monthlies) not included? Are they outside of the local multiverse—and if so, are they with other universes in a non-local multiverse, which also contains DC’s movie and TV universes? How many multiverses is DC currently operating? Why does the Infinite Crisis video game use the correct Earth denotations from the Multiveristy Map, yet ostensibly take place outside of the local multiverse?
But for me the biggest question of all is: What’s the deal with Darkseid and the New Gods and their supposed multiple emanations?
I think I have a pretty decent answer, but before tackling the question, it’s first important to understand the word emanation is defined—in Webster’s Dictionary—as “the origination of the world by a series of hierarchically descending radiations from the Godhead through intermediate stages to matter.” Or in my own layman’s terms: “a splinter version of a higher-level über-God.”
A sequence in The Multiversity Guidebook takes us high above Earth-51 where we see the New Gods awake from a long slumber to realize that Darkseid has risen from his grave. They also bear witness to Ben Boxer, Kamandi, and Tuftan as the trio learns the true history of the multiverse. Highfather and Big Barda reveal that both Darkseid and all of the New Gods that have been shown in Justice League, Earth 2, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, Batman & Robin and other New 52 titles are merely emanations. The New Gods in The Multiversity Guidebook claim that they themselves are the genuine, absolute über-Gods and everyone else is just a lesser New 52 splinter-version. All others are replicas unique to each universe, merely pieces or slivers of the Real Deals.
But how did we get to this point exactly? Here’s the history lesson. At the conclusion of Final Crisis, the age of the Fourth World ended and the age of the Fifth World began, meaning the New Gods basically retired and the superheroes of Earth essentially filled their void. Retirement for the New Gods meant being sent to oversee a newly reformed Earth-51. The Multiversity Guidebook shows us that Darkseid was buried on Earth-51 and tells us that the New Gods have been “slumbering” ever since Final Crisis. Orion isn’t shown in The Multiversity Guidebook because, like Darkseid, Orion died and as was buried (as per Final Crisis as well). Anyway, we see that the New Gods are in Supertown, but this Supertown doesn’t float in the sky as the gleaming capital of New Genesis does. This Supertown sits atop the “Screaming Mountains,” implying that it is on Earth-51 as well. It’s a panopticon palace fit for higher evolutionary beings, but notice that it’s literally grounded to Earth. This is because, at the end of Final Crisis, the New Gods left the Sphere of the Gods and relocated to Earth-51! The intention of Final Crisis was to put all Jack Kirby creations into one single universe and retire them from the DC sandbox (as Dan Didio even said in interviews in 2009). Thus, Grant Morrison sent the New Gods to Earth-51 along with Kamandi, Ben Boxer, and Tuftan. With the New Gods on Earth-51 and Darkseid dead (and buried on Earth-51 too), New Genesis and Apokolips were left unneeded and empty… until Flashpoint created alternate emanations to fill the vacancies.
After the New Gods went into sleepy retirement following Final Crisis, a few years passed before Flashpoint occurred and altered DC’s continuity. Flashpoint affected multiple Earths, but NOT all. Whereas Final Crisis (like all the Crises before) was erased from Earth-0’s timeline by a line-wide reboot (Flashpoint in this instance), it wasn’t erased from the timeline of Earth-51, which stayed relatively the same. Some have argued that the New Gods pictured in The Multiversity Guidebook are standing on New Genesis, but, as I stated above, they likely are not and are instead standing in Supertown, Earth-51. It’s not simply that the Sphere of the Gods was above the influence of Flashpoint (even though maybe it was); it’s that Earth-51 and possibly other Earths were above the influence of Flashpoint too. Unknown to the slumbering New Gods on Earth-51 (and obviously the deceased Darkseid), Flashpoint created their emanations when it created a brand new New Age continuity (the New 52). These emanations have appeared as Darkseid in Justice League and Batman & Robin AND appeared as the New Gods in Green Lantern and Wonder Woman.
Cut to now. In The Multiversity Guidebook, the pre-Flashpoint New Gods have woken-up from their hibernation to find the pre-Flashpoint Darkseid resurrected from his grave. The pre-Flashpoint New Gods and pre-Flashpoint Darkseid (i.e. the real true über versions of those characters, which have been sequestered on an Earth untouched by Flashpoint) have awoken to realize that their alternate versions have been running around on multiple Earths ever since the dawn of the New 52. Not only that, the über-New Gods realize that the New 52 versions are literally a part of them—emanations of their godhood.
Hard to understand? Put it in a familiar perspective. This is akin to what happened in the Modern Age with Kal-L, Superman-Prime, and Alex Luthor. Their timelines were completely obliterated with the original Crisis on Infinite Earths, but they continued on in a pocket world, watching and spying on their Earth-0 replacements until their eventual return in Infinite Crisis. Basically, the same thing occurs with Flashpoint in regard to Darkseid and the New Gods, except Darkseid and the New Gods aren’t watching and spying. Instead, Darkseid is a lifeless corpse and the New Gods are in hibernation (as a result of Final Crisis). And also unlike Kal-L and company, Darkseid and the New Gods aren’t in a pocket universe; they are on Earth-51, which, again, was largely unaffected by Flashpoint. The other big difference is that Kal-L and Kal-El were different characters entirely whereas New 52 Darkseid/New 52 New Gods are EMANATIONS of the pre-Flashpoint Darkseid/pre-Flashpoint New Gods shown in The Multiversity Guidebook. In other words, the New 52 Darkseid is merely a part of the pre-Flashpoint Darkseid. Whether or not New 52 Darkseid knows this remains to be seen.
This question of whether or not New 52 Darkseid knows he’s simply a part of the real Darkseid is just one of many new questions that arise from our lengthy answer of the previous question! Silogramsam asks some highly important and relevant related queries on the DCU wiki forum: “1) [Are the ‘versions’ of the New Gods and Darkseid from the New 52’s Justice League, Earth-2, and Green Lantern] controlled by the ‘real’ ones seen in The Guidebook; 2) [Do] those other versions KNOW that they aren’t the ‘real’ ones; 3) Are the ones in the Guidebook ACTUALLY the ‘real’ ones?—(although, these New Gods’ insight into what is going on with those other versions would imply that these are, in fact, the real ones. [I Also] wonder if the writers of those monthlies would agree—(better check-in on Earth-33)! 4) Are those encounters in other universes all planned, purposely, by the one and only Darkseid [or by The Empty Hand]?”