A Brief Breakdown of the Bygone Batman of Earth-B

NOTE: This article is cross-posted at The Batman Universe.

jerry lewis bob hope batman collin colsher earth-b


By the late 1970s there were a handful of Silver Age DC stories that just seemed out-of-continuity no matter what. They just didn’t fit, violated characterization, had obvious continuity errors, or were just plain strange (even for Silver Age comics). Many of these stories in question were written by Bob Haney and E Nelson Bridwell and edited by Murray Boltinoff and Bob Rozakis. Thus, these out-of-synch tales retroactively became assigned to Earth-B. The assignment of the letter B came from the fact there were so many B names creatively-involved in the non-synchronous tales—Bridwell, Boltinoff, and two Bobs (three if you count Bob Hope)! Further reasoning for assigning the letter B was that many of these tales also took place in The Brave & The Bold. While it is rumored that Myron Gruenwald and Mark Gruenwald originally came up with the idea for Earth-B, the concept was first mentioned in a letters column by Rozakis in the 1970s. Creators Mark Waid and Lou Mougin cemented the concept of Earth-B in 1986’s OFFICIAL CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS CROSSOVER INDEX. However, the Crossover Index was co-published by Independent Comics Group (ICG) and was therefore considered only quasi-official at the time. Thus, several contradictions arose within.

For example, Mougin and Waid, in the Crossover Index, state clearly that the 1974 appearances of Thomas Wayne Jr (in World’s Finest Comics #223 and World’s Finest Comics #227) are definitive occurrences on Earth-B. Now, while that is set in stone, the confusion lies in the fact that this doesn’t necessarily mean that Thomas Wayne Jr doesn’t also exist on Earth-1. Because of this, many wikis and online Silver Age synopses include Thomas Wayne Jr as part of Earth-1 canon as well. There are precedents. Scholars Mikel Midnight and Douglas Ethington regard the Golden Age Robin origin story in Batman #32, Part 2 as contradicting the Golden Age Robin origin story in Detective Comics #38. They place Batman #32, Part 2 solely on Earth-B. Likewise, 1994’s Batman: The Last Angel occurs on the Earth-B timeline (as its final future tale) and simultaneously on the Modern Age timeline. However, the Thomas Wayne Jr stories also contradict DC Comics Presents #24 by failing to acknowledge Deadman’s prior actions. Therefore, it does seem like WFC #223 and WFC #227 are non-canon on Earth-1.

earth-b thomas wayne jr collin colser

But the contradictions were further amplified (or cleaned-up, depending on your point-of-view) in 2005, when the Crossover Index was updated and republished as part of Crisis on Infinite Earths: The Absolute Edition. Because the Earth-B timeline—a timeline comprised entirely of contradictory stories—itself contained contradictions, comics historian/researcher John Wells decided that Earth-B could be even further broken down into parts. As co-author of the “Compendium” section of The Absolute Edition, Wells created Earth-32, a place to hold all of the stories that definitely couldn’t work on Earth-1, but which also seemed to be on shaky ground on Earth-B. (Wells used the number 32 for his new Earth, citing that many of the stories that weren’t jibing with the rest of the Earth-B chronology could be traced back to both 1964’s Green Lantern #32 and 1945’s Batman #32.)

With Earth-B missing a chunk of its previous material (which had now migrated to Earth-32), Wells realized that Earth-B was a hatchet-job and really looked like something unrecognizable. Thus, he took all the material that wasn’t re-assigned to Earth-32 and listed it as a part of another new Earth: Earth-12. (Earth-12 was first mentioned in 1986’s Oz-Wonderland War—a three issue series that saw Captain Carrot and the Zoo Crew join forces with the inhabitants of L Frank Baum’s Oz and Lewis Carroll’s Wonderland to fight Ruggeddo the Nome King. Eat your heart out, Alan Moore! The Inferior Five make a brief appearance in Oz, citing that they are looking for Earth-12. This has led some to speculate that the Inferior Five stories occur on Earth-12 (and therefore Earth-B as well).

oz wonerland war collin colsher

Because of Wells’ 2005 updates, some sources list Earth-B as an “unofficial Earth,” merely an amalgamation of the two “official Earths,” Earth-32 and Earth-12. But this is a chicken-or-the-egg scenario. Earth-B was first, then Earth-32, then Earth-12. One could endlessly continue this process and get nowhere fast. Wells himself is nearly guilty of wandering into this desert. While most of the Batman toy tie-ins, food product mini-comics, and cereal box send-aways occur on Earth-B/Earth-32/Earth-12, Wells—in The Absolute Edition—notes specifically that the Hostess Snack Cake free comics and in-comic Hostess advertisements featuring Batman from the 1970s and 1980s all take place on a separate “Earth-Hostess.” Earth-Hostess! See what I mean? For the purposes of the Real Batman Chronology Project, Earth-B, Earth-32, and Earth-12 (and Earth-Hostess) each exist. Earth-B merely exists as a separate timeline that combines all of Earth-12 and Earth-32.

hostess snack cake collin colsher batman

Another interesting fun fact about Earth-B’s Adventures of Bob Hope series. Some of its elements were canon on Earth-1, most notably the debut and existence of Bob Hope’s amazingly ridiculous nephew Tadwallader Jutefruce, who moonlights as the superhero called Super-Hip.

Much of the information above comes from Mikel Midnight’s “Cosmology Compendium: Earth-B Timeline” (compiled in 2005), which in turn filtered information via writers Douglas Ethington and John Wells. Historian John McDonagh (seemingly via Wells and writer Mike Tiefenbacher) also proves a worthy source in the comments section of a 2006 “Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed” blog post by scholar Brian Cronin.

Below is a Batman of Earth-B timeline (of my own creation). Many of these items, as explained above, also go on Wells’ Earth-32 or Earth-12. Note that the meat-and-potatoes (i.e. stuff in-between the items on the list below) reflects the Silver Age Earth-1 timeline. Basically, this means that if I were making a full Earth-B timeline, I would copy-and-paste most of Earth-1’s chronology into it.

–Batman #32 (also canon on Golden Age pre-Crisis Earth-2 timeline)
–Adventures of Jerry Lewis #97
–Swing with Scooter #5
–Adventures of Bob Hope #103
–The Brave & The Bold #84
–The Brave & The Bold #90
–The Brave & The Bold #96
–The Brave & The Bold #99
–The Brave & The Bold #108
–World’s Finest Comics #223
–World’s Finest Comics #227
–The Brave & The Bold #117
–Batman Power Records Comic #PR-27
–Batman Power Records Comic #PR-30
–The Brave & The Bold #124
(introduction of Earth-PRIME B)
–Amazing World of DC Comics #11
–The Brave & The Bold #131
–The Brave & The Bold Special
–The Brave & The Bold #146
–Aquateers Meet the Super Friends
(1979, this likely goes on the Super Friends’ Earth 1-A too)
–Batman: The Peril of the Penguin (1979, Post Fruity & Cocoa Pebbles box mini-comic giveaway)
–Super Heroes: Prisoners of the Stars (1979, Post Fruity & Cocoa Pebbles box mini-comic giveaway)
–Batman: The Joker’s Last Laugh (1980, Post Super Sugar Crisps box mini-comic giveaway)
–Super Heroes: The Secret of the Sinister Lighthouse (1980, Post Super Sugar Crisps box mini-comic giveaway)
–The Brave & The Bold #162
–The Brave & The Bold #167
–Batman: Belt ‘Em For Safety
(1981, Mini-Foldout comic for The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration)
–Super Powers Collection #2 (1983, Kenner toy tie-in)
–Super Powers Collection #5-9 (1983, Kenner toy tie-in)
–Super Powers Collection #11 (1983, Kenner toy tie-in)
–DC Challenge #1-12 (1985-1986)
–Viewmaster Mini Comics: The Joker’s Wild (1993, based on “5-way Revenge”)
–Justice League America vs. Amazo (1993, Kellogg’s Cinnamon Mini Buns mini-comic)
–Batman: The Last Angel (1994, also canon on Modern Age Earth-0)

__________________________________________________________________

earth-b collin colsher cover collage

The Earth-B items on the list above only include issues that feature Earth-B Batman. As stated above, the Earth-B timeline is modeled off of the Silver Age Earth-1 timeline, so a version of pretty much every Silver Age DC character would also live on Earth-B. Other inhabitants, however, are unique to Earth-B. Besides the comic versions of Bob Hope, Dean Martin, and Jerry Lewis, unique inhabitants of Earth-B include: The Green Team, Prez Rickard, The Inferior Five, The Freedom Brigade, Santa Claus, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Plastic Man (from Arnold Drake and Gil Kane’s Plastic Man Vol. 2 ), Scooter and his gang (from Swing with Scooter), and The Super Friends (from the comics only, although some folks cross-list the TV series on Earth-B as well).

Of course, the past is the past. The Silver Age ended with The Crisis on Infinite Earths in 1986. And Earth-B/Earth-12/Earth-32 all disappeared into the white ether as well. The Modern Age (and later New 52/New Age) would give us a new Earth-12 —home to the Batman Beyond DCAU characters—and a new Earth-32—home to the Elseworlds-styled Justice Titans.

About Collin Colsher

Collin Colsher is a writer, filmmaker, teacher, and comic book scholar that currently lives and works in Brooklyn, NY. He is the creator of the Real Batman Chronology Project. He also serves on the jury for the annual Lynd Ward Graphic Novel Prize, which is sponsored by the US Library of Congress.

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2 Responses to A Brief Breakdown of the Bygone Batman of Earth-B

  1. Morgan says:

    Actually many issues with Earth-B can be solve with one concept: Hypertime.

    Justice League: The Nail and Justice League: Another Nail were assigned to the hypertime reality Earth-898 and in that story Barry and Ray encounter hypertime “copies” of Earth-Three, Earth-S, and Earth-Twelve (the last was where Adventures of Bob Hope #94 was assigned)

    It is canon that hypertime causes people’s memories and even reality itself to distort and alter (as shown in the Dark Flash saga) as the timeline remerge and then separate again.

    Also Earth-Thirty-Two has stories after Crisis implying that it is also a hypertime reality.

    Oh, Convergence #8 (2015) restored the Pre-Crisis multiverse in “evolved” form. John King stated “Post-Convergence, every character that ever existed, in either Continuity or Canon, is now available to us as storytellers.” Logically this means that there are at least FIVE multiverses: the original Pre-Crisis multiverse, Hypertime, 52 Multiverse, New 52 Multiverse, and the “evolved” Pre-Crisis multiverse. Oh and DC just added a sixth multiverse: The Dark Multiverse.

    • Thanks for the incredible info, Morgan. I was unaware that Earth-3, Earth-S, and Earth-12 are referenced in JL: The Nail. And the note about how Hypertime affects reality and memory is not only amazing, but also something that I will definitely add to the site—(I’ll be sure to give you credit for that tidbit).

      I don’t put much stock in Convergence for a number of reasons. That arc has been discussed at length in the comments of this website, so I’ll try to draw from those discussions to address your comment. (I must admit, before going further, that I am bias towards Convergence, as I hate it with every fiber of my being. In my humble opinion, it is one of the worst arcs of the past decade. So take that into consideration as I go on!) To start, Jeff King’s quote about “every character that ever existed, in either continuity or canon, is now available to us as storytellers” due to an “evolution of the multiverse” is one of the most ridiculous and dubious comments I’ve ever heard in comics. In Convergence, King had several characters go back and “undo” the Crisis on Infinite Earths, yet the effect of this action caused no change whatsoever. Thankfully, and I think I’m one of the few people on the web to acknowledge this, the recent “Rebirth” reboot in the pages of Superman effectively undid Convergence.

      Let me explain (cribbing from New Age Year Fifteen on my site): “Since the Golden, Silver, and Modern Ages exist only as archived/defunct timelines, any characters removed from those timelines had to be returned exactly as they were when they were stolen away (by Brainiac) in order to preserve the future sections of those timelines. This is the fundamental nature of the way comic book universes operate—the physics of comic book worlds, in a sense. The metaphor is as such: you cannot play with a toy in the sandbox if that toy has been removed from the sandbox because said toy literally does not exist anymore. So, basically a side-effect of the Superman Reborn reboot (possibly unintentional) is that the characters from the previous ages that continued to live on in the New 52 after Convergence ended—post-Zero Hour Hal Jordan, pre-Crisis Supergirl, pre-Crisis Barry Allen, Modern Age Lois, and Modern Age Superman—all get whisked back to the moment in time from whence they were removed from their timelines (in order to complete their actions and live out their lives as originally intended so as to secure the sanctity of their timelines). Returned, they have no memory of their time during Convergence or during the New 52. It will seem as though no time has passed at all. Jonathan, an anomaly of Convergence, with nowhere to return to, simply ceases to exist. Thus, in this strange way, the Superman Reborn reboot acts as a coda to Convergence, both because it ties up loose ends (albeit imperfectly but as best it can) and because it erases it from the New Age (aka Rebirth) timeline.”

      To reiterate, Convergence not only created a bad PARADOX, it was in and of itself a BAD PARADOX too. First, if the original Crisis was undone, everything following it could not have happened. Second, Convergence‘s main narrative relies on having had the original Crisis occur as it originally did as well. Third, having certain characters leave their old timelines permanently (notably Modern Age Superman) doesn’t make sense because Modern Age Superman lived out a full life that lasted far longer than 2011 (when he was plucked away by Brainiac). DC One Million is a prime example of Superman’s life and actions far into the future of the Modern Age timeline—just as old Bruce guiding Terry McGinnis is a prime example for Batman.

      It’s almost as if King thought that there was no set future on old timelines, as if Modern Age Superman’s story ended with Flashpoint and he could just pick up right there with the character with no continuity errors as a direct consequence. To me, this shows that King doesn’t have a fundamental grasp on how superhero comics work. I’m not saying you can’t use an old character from a prior timeline, but if you do, you have to at least pick up with that character from where they left off. Unfortunately for nearly all DC characters from prior publication eras, their stories were told right up to the event of their deaths. The way I see Convergence, it’s a bit of disrespectful storytelling on the part of King. It treads all over the creative works of a lot of authors and attempts to retcon a ton of story just to fill the needs of another story that wasn’t worth a damn. Sort of like if George Lucas went back and did Special Editions, but of movies he had nothing to do with in the first place (and those new Special Editions permanently replaced the old films)! But I digress.

      Only by returning Modern Age Superman back to the point he was plucked from do we begin to undo the Convergence paradox. And only by erasing Convergence (and therefore erasing anything done to the original Crisis), do we fully undo the paradox. “Superman Reborn” does both of these things in one fell swoop by creating a new Rebirth Era Superman (and new Rebirth Era Superman Family and new Rebirth Era DC Comics in general).

      It is interesting—and I have to go back an reread JL: The Nail because it has been a long time—that they are merely “copies” of Earth-3, Earth-S, and Earth-12, as you say. Several site contributors (including myself) stated that, in order for Convergence to remain canon and work both problem free and without paradox, the characters involved could only be “copies” of themselves. In this way, since they were merely copies, they could be free to do anything they wanted, even including get married and have a kid (like Superman and Lois did) or get killed (like Joker did).

      Last but not least, to respond to the last part of your comment. I’d argue, as I’ve always said about Hypertime, that it is more about semantics and categorization than anything else. There will always be an infinite number of universes, no matter what. Clearly, in the current world of DC Comics, there is a Local Multiverse that houses 53 universes. Attached to that is a Dark Multiverse that has an unknown number of negative universes. Beyond this, there are non-local multiverses (and probably non-local Dark Multiverses) that could vary dramatically in size and scope. All of all of this comprises the greater Omniverse, which is linked by (and is a part of the web of) Hypertime. And since Hypertime is infinite, any version of anything we’ve ever seen in any comic can exist.

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