Earth 15 This earth debuted in Countdown # 30. The cover was the first thing that excited me. Here was a Batman looking very Bronze Age and a Wonder Woman looking a bit Golden or Silver Age. On this world of heroes realized, Jason Todd is Batman following the demise of Bruce Wayne. Donna Troy is Wonder Woman. The Atom is the 18-year-old Jessica Palmer. An interesting twist is that Zod is Superman and one of the good guys.
In issue 24, Superman Prime destroys this earth. Disappointed that it's not the perfect earth, he began his reign of terror by wiping out the Justice League of this world.
Earth 51 This earth debuted in Countdown # 19. On this earth Libby Lawrence-Chambers is President of the United States and Clark Kent's identity is out in the open. It's a near perfect world in which the newspaper makes no mention of crime, war, poverty, or disease.
The Ray Palmer (a.k.a. The Atom) of New Earth (the post-crisis earth) has traveled to this earth and taken the place of his deceased doppelganger on this world. Here Palmer found a home, and presumably a future, with Jean Loring, this earth's version of his ex-wife. Ray Palmer had found happiness.
Palmer attends a Christmas Eve party in issue 18 where his circle of friends include Ralph Dibny (a.k.a. Elongated Man) and his wife, Sue, and Barry Allen (a.k.a. The Flash) and his true love, Iris. All are alive and well. Until issue 17 where all Palmer's friends are wiped out. So here's a rundown of how things go for Earth 51:
Issue 16 - Monarch and his army take this unsuspecting and unprepared world by surprise. The Monitor of this world tries desperately to save it. The Batman of this earth never retired with the rest of the League after they obliterated crime, but he hung out in a "Bat Bunker" where he waited for the other shoe to drop.
Issue 15 - This is where we learn that that the JLA had declared war on criminals and wiped out all the rogues. They had also once met a JSA from another earth (from which earth?--I wonder).
Issue 13 - Superman Prime damages Monarch's armor, releasing quantum energy that wipes out earth 51 and its entire universe. And yet, a green plant survives. Where there is life there is hope.
Issue 7 - The Challengers had been transported to another earth by a Monitor. But which earth is it? They assume it was their own until they realize that either this isn't their earth or they've been erased from existence.
Issue 6 - Here is the outbreak of the chaos-producing morticoccus virus on Earth 51. The Green Lantern of this world goes into deep space unknowingly spreading the virus throughout the galaxy.
Issue 5 - The Challengers escape through a boom tube. Narrator Buddy Blank and his grandson take refuge in the Command D bunker where he had worked on the defunct Brother Eye project. Meanwhile, world leaders suspect one another of the havoc that has been unleashed and so resort to nuclear weapons. It seems obvious that Blank's grandson will be Kamandi, Last Boy on Earth.
Issue 4 - This issue seems to indicate that this world was a reconstituted Earth 51.
Issue 1 - Brother eye transforms Blank into Omac. Two universes are said to have perished under the watch of Nix Uotan, Monitor of Earth 51.
Okay, so like many other fans, I'm scratching my head wondering what the point was of this whole Countdown series. I can't tell that too much has changed apart from a new Kamandi origin and learning that the Challengers will now monitor the Monitors. Whatever. (Check out this review from Snell).
But the whole point of this post is my lament of the demise of a couple of earths that had great retro and storytelling potential. Earth 15 was retro in a Bronze Age sort of way. And on both Earths 15 and 51, some heroes had their dreams realized. Palmer finally found happiness.
But along comes Superman Prime destroying both these worlds in his search for the perfect earth. Is there no such thing as a happy ending in the DC Universe? Why wasn't Palmer allowed happiness with his wife and friends? Why couldn't Todd and Troy of Earth 15 continue to fill the shoes of their predecessors?
I recall the good ol' days with happy endings and the good guys always won. So I lamented right along with Superman and Lois of Earth Two and Superboy (can we call him that?) Prime in Infinite Crisis when they mourned over what the singular Modern Age universe had become. Grit, grisly violence, death, corruption, and so fourth; heroes dying and being maimed. The Modern Age was a complete loss of innocence for the DC Universe.
I at first thought that Superman Prime, in his search for the perfect earth, was a parody of us nostalgists who long for a return to the good ol' days. But Mark Engblom at Comic Coverage, in a post titled August Can't Get Here Soon Enough has identified Superman Prime a parody of fan boy entitlement.
This is evidenced by Prime's disgust for the multiple earths concept in Countdown 23. So I guess all fans boys are fair game and not just those who long for a return to days of old which includes a return of the multiverse.
Okay, this is long, but I hope it makes sense. My question now is "What's next?" Well, next is Final Crisis, in which we're told that evil wins. Oh, great! Just what a retro guy like me wants to hear.
So will I be on board? Of course. I've followed the DC Universe saga this long, so why not see where it goes? And this promises to be the FINAL Crisis. I can't say I'm sorry. Earth shattering changes are okay every twenty years, but enough is enough! And I, for one, will be royally peeved if any more of my favorite earths get destroyed. Long live the multiverse!