Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Mining the DC TV Multiverse: Opening observations

When I was a young gamer, there was an extra delight in playing a supers game wherein there was a chance you might run into a villain or a hero from one of the established universes.

Certainly, if you were playing TSR's original Marvel Super-Heroes RPG, or the DC Heroes RPG, it was expected as the stats were already provided to you -- and it was expected that you were more or less in the same universe as the one in the comics. But if you were in one of the more generic superhero RPGs, then you expected that some liberties would be taken with the canon.

If it was a mixed universe -- with characters from both DC & Marvel (and perhaps other super-heroic universes), then you wondered how things were different.

For example: What was the REAL story behind supers in WWII (since the two big universes had different reasons why the metahuman population, along with the Olympic-level mystery men, could have ended the war a lot faster)? Did Superman first appear in 1938, and if so, does he look old now? Did Batman influence the appearance of the Moon Knight? Why didn't they find Captain America earlier with folks like the Spectre and Aquaman able to search for him?

And all of this is backstory, of course, not meant to detract from the stories and adventures of your own characters.

The current wave of DC multiverse TV shows (live action, not cartoon), shows that it's not afraid of shared multiverses (hello, Arrowverse) or segregated storylines (Titans, Gotham). Furthermore, they are comfortable  playing around with expectations derived from comic canon (Black Canary AND White Canary? Cisco Ramon?). Of course, the cartoon universe led the way with the classic Batman: The Animated Series -- and the movies have done their number of canon as well (Wonder Woman in WWI, older Batman, younger Superman, etc.).

It certainly has changed the expectations for variance from continuity -- now we're simultaneously looking at how the variances both stay true to the characters and their history, and how cleverly they change them to make them more interesting and engaging on their own, or within the context of the world they've been recreated in.

The bar has been raised (and lowered in some cases), and it's likely to be the same in your RPG's supers universe.


  1. I hadn't thought of that before, but it would be nice if the high profile of all these different continuities made fanboys a little be less uptight about continuity (and I say that as a guy they general thinks continuity is a good thing, not the cause of all of comic book publishing ills as it sometimes seems to be presented).

    1. I am also a fan of continuity -- I remember judging the slew of pre-2000 Elseworld entries by how true the changes were to the essence of the characters (main and secondary). But yes, it'd be nice to see the fanboys try to find a happy medium with their appreciation of continuity.

      It'd also be nice to have the comics publishers understand how to make a non-rebooted continuity sustainable for a couple of decades before having to reboot again...


That's my side of things. Let me know what you think, my friend.