Elseworlds is the publication imprint for comic books produced by DC Comics which take place outside the company's canon. The Gotham by Gaslight graphic novel, featuring Batman, is considered to be the first official Elseworlds story. The "Elseworlds" name was trademarked in 1989, the same year as the first Elseworlds publication.
Unlike its Marvel Comics counterpart What If...?, which contains stories based on a single point of divergence from the regular continuity, most Elseworlds stories take place in entirely self-contained continuities, with the only connection to the DC canon being the presence of familiar DC characters.
The first Elseworlds title was Batman: Gotham by Gaslight (1989), written by Brian Augustyn and drawn by Mike Mignola, which featured a Victorian Age version of the superhero Batman hunting Jack the Ripper, who had come to Gotham City. The title was not originally published as an Elseworlds comic, but its success led to the creation of the Elseworlds imprint and this title was retroactively declared the first Elseworlds. The first book to feature the Elseworlds logo was Batman: Holy Terror. In 1994, the Elseworlds imprint was used as the theme for the annual edition comic books of that summer.
DC sporadically published various Elseworlds titles from 1989 to 2003. Around the time of the release of Batman: Detective No. 27 in 2003, editor Mike Carlin noted that DC had scaled back the production of Elseworlds books in order to "put the luster back on them." Several titles that were announced as Elseworlds books prior to this, such as Generations 4 and The Teen Titans Swingin' Elseworlds Special, were cancelled. The planned Teen Titans tale was eventually released in January 2008 as the Teen Titans Lost Annual.
In a September 2009 interview, Dan DiDio hinted at the return of the Elseworlds imprint as a series of Prestige Format books and lamented the stagnation of the Elseworlds concept which he felt had become simply transplanting the characters into different settings. The intended approach was to take the classic origin and mythology of the DC characters and twist them in interesting ways. The only new Elseworlds story released under this initiative was the three-issue mini-series Superman: The Last Family of Krypton, published from August to October 2010, which told the story of baby Kal-El reaching Earth with his mother and father and how the world handles the emergence of a super-powered family.
Relationship to DC continuity
Although the Elseworlds imprint was created to feature stories separate from DC continuity, there have been specific examples where Elseworlds stories and concepts have been placed into DC continuity.
The Kingdom mini-series in 1999 brought the Kingdom Come mini-series into DC continuity as part of a series of alternate timelines known as "Hypertime". However, an editorial edict in 2005 removed the concept of Hypertime from DC continuity.
The new Multiverse was introduced at the conclusion of the 52 weekly series and expanded on in the pages of the Countdown weekly series. Some of the alternate worlds depicted in various Elseworlds titles were reintroduced as alternate Earths that make up the new Multiverse.
- List of Elseworlds publications
- Canon (fiction)
- Multiverse (DC Comics)
- What If...?, a similar concept at Marvel Comics
- Intercompany crossovers
- "Batman: Gotham by Gaslight Comics". IGN. Retrieved 2015-04-06.
- "CHICAGO DAY 2: New 'Challengers of the Unknown,' Richard Corben Monthly Announced, DC Teams with Aspen". Comic Book Resources. Retrieved 2015-03-10.
- "Teen Titans: The Lost Annual Review". IGN. 2008-01-09. Retrieved 2015-03-10.
- Rogers, Vaneta. "20 Answers & 1 Question with Dan Didio". Newsarama.com. Newsarama. Retrieved 10 January 2015.
- "Superman: The Last Family of Krypton Comics". IGN. Retrieved 2015-03-10.
- Countdown #51-0 (May 2007 - May 2008)
- Countdown: Arena #1 (December 2007)