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Off My Mind: How Alternate Realities Could be Abused to Learn Superhero Secrets

Practically everyone has journeyed to them in comic books.

In comic books, the idea of alternate realities is about as common as superheroes wearing capes. Most heroes at some point or another have experienced alternate realities. Whether they've journeyed there themselves or have come into contact with someone from one, there's a lot in the comic book worlds that are aware of their existence.

Even if the knowledge of their existence is limited, word is bound to get around to those with questionable motives. It would only be a matter of time before someone tried accessing alternate realities in order to gain information on others or situations that could be used to their advantage.

It could be argued that traveling to alternate realities isn't something just anyone can do, but over the years, we have seen several groups and individuals make the trip. Rather than try to gain wealth by stealing or taking over the world, what if individuals tried stealing secrets from alternate realities?

== TEASER ==

The Watchers in the Marvel Universe are the biggest users of alternate realities. This powerful race of Peeping Toms knows all the secrets of the 616 universe as well as the infinite others. Uatu watches from his place up on the Moon and he doesn't exactly have the best security system.

We've seen certain individuals gain entry into his private residence and recently there were even a couple guys that took advantage of the fact that Watchers enter a fugue state every three years for exactly forty-five minutes. This gave them the opportunity to enter his place and observe a bunch of scenes from future and alternate realities.

One of the scenes they got a look at was a possible future scenario where the Ultron War was taking place. This scene involved Hawkeye and Spider-Man only Spider-Man had lost his mask (and most of his costume, as usual). These guys could have easily captured an image of Peter's face and while he might be one face in about eight million, that could be a valuable piece of information. There are clearly bigger secrets they could gain but selling an image of Spider-Man's true face or trying to blackmail him with it could be worth something.

What about when Barry Allen first met Jay Garrick? Once he realized he somehow journeyed from Central City to Keystone City, the home of a fictional character in a comic book he read about as a child. He immediately finds Jay's home and tells him he knows all about his origin and adventures. In a sense, it could be said that anyone in Barry's DC Universe knew all the secrets of Jay and the Justice Society.

There were crossovers from time to time between Earth-One and Earth-Two. The advantage could be used against them if their secrets and identities were known. Once Crisis on Infinite Earths merged the worlds, this wasn't as big of a concern but the decades of continuity before could have caused problems.

Then there were the Exiles in the Marvel Universe. A being calling himself the Timebroker enlisted heroes from different realities sent to specific ones to fix broken events. While on their missions, they became aware of many secrets of the different heroes and villains. Some had died or taken different paths in their lives based on whatever events transpired in their reality. Members of the Exiles were privy to this information along with any other that they came across.

When members were relieved of duty, they were thought to have been returned to their home dimension (but that's another story). In the end, it appears that members were allowed to come and go once the team moved away from the Timebroker.

Even Mister Fantastic used the idea of alternate realities when trying to solve everything. Building a device, he met the Council, consisting of different Reed Richards from alternate realities. All this turned a little sour as some evil Reed Richards made their way into the 616 Universe.

The idea of Nick Spencer's INFINITE VACATION even gives individuals the opportunity to visit other realities. If you have the money, you could buy an alternate reality and the secrets or information that go along with it. A lot of care needed to be taken to avoid getting stuck in an alternate reality.

Not just anyone can gain access to alternate resources. But once it's discovered that someone does have access or has had access to other dimensions, it's just a matter of force, threats or blackmail to get them to divulge secrets or a way to gain secrets. Supervillains need to forget robbing banks or trying to take over the country. If they can access the secrets of alternate realities, the world will be theirs for the taking.

45 Comments
Edited by Wonder Princess

Awesome reading. I have always loved the alternate worlds stuff.

Posted by NightFang

@Wonder Princess said:

Awesome reading. I have always loved the alternate worlds stuff.

Yeah, alternate worlds are great along with what if's and crossover stories.

Edited by Jordanstine

Speaking of "Superhero Secrets"...

You would think that all the times Batman bleeds on the street, that someone would actually decide to take a DNA test sample of his blood and match it to Bruce Wayne especially in this day and age...

In fact, all you need is just a single hair follicle to get DNA and... wala!

Match found!

Superhero secret identities all revealed in the 21st century (at least those who are only humans).

Posted by Deadcool

Nice, I love alternative worlds...

Posted by ArtisticNeedham

I was just reading Astro City, and Busiek said one of the things he'd love to explore in Astro City was the lawyer who had to defend a superhero who arrested for crimes that his evil twin committed.

Posted by feebadger

I've had my doubts about some recent comic vine articles (heroes working out, what do they do with torn costumes) but this was a great article. Hopefully some of comicdoms writers are reading this article now and hatching some mind blowing future stories from it. Great work.

Posted by NightFang

@Jordanstine: That would only work if the person suspected Bruce Wayne was Batman and I think Ra's Al Ghul probably did that.

Posted by ltbrd

@Jordanstine: It does seem a bit strange but then again not everyone's fingerprints or DNA are in a database. I mean, why would someone randomly take Bruce Wayne's DNA or fingerprints. Now if we consider continuity and the fact that Bruce has been in jail before than its possible his fingerprints were taken.......but he wears gloves as Batman so that stops that possible identity slip. DNA is even more hit or miss and is only now becoming such a strong point of identification or legal precedence. But there isn't a random database somewhere with all of our DNA info stored in it (or is there?????).

Your comment reminds me of the JLU episode "Epiloque" where Amanda Waller tells Terry about his origin and how finding Bruce's DNA wasn't hard as he "left it all over town". Of course she already knew at that point Bruce Wayne was Batman.

Posted by Gokujam

@Itbrd: Agreed. Why would Bruce Wayne's dna just be on file somewhere? Finding out a secret identity wouldn't be as simple as that

Posted by Xenozoic Shaman

You'd think that The Watcher could get a few trusted heroes to guard him and his home for those 45 minutes. Possibly that counts as interference? Allowing secrets of the future to be revealed is kinda interfering as well.

Edited by Namor1987

Not every superhero has received the alternate timeline/universe treatmennt I'm sure there are some bottom of the barrel Z-Listers that appeared a handful of times never to be heard from again

Edited by kfhrfdu_89_76k

@Jordanstine:

Maybe the villains are just stupid. Actually, more better answer is that taking blood samples is so obvious, that they don`t realize how obvious it is.

"Supervillains need to forget robbing banks or trying to take over the country. If they can access the secrets of alternate realities, the world will be theirs for the taking."

G-man, you seem to be on the side of supervillains. Therefore, I believe that you`re a supervillain.

But then again, you also tell heroes to do stuff that will be good for them. So, does that make you an anti-hero, or an anti-villain?

I wonder why these alternate universe-things don`t happen so often...

Posted by redbird3rdboywonder

i like the idea of alternate universes but maybe the villans are smart enough not to mess with different realities lest they want another crisis on infinte Earths

Posted by Kairan1979

1. Journeys to the alternate realities can be dangerous. You go to the alternate Earth - and find it populated by giant killer robots or invaded by Skrulls.
2. You find the counterpart of your old friend and offer the alliance - and he stabs you in the back (happened in one of the first issues of Exiles, when the team accidentally freed evil Charles Xavier).
3. Let's not forget about Living Tribunal.

Posted by Decept-O

I've always wanted to get the blasted Exiles books, this is making me want to get them now. Alternate realities have good and bad points but yeah, think of all the damage super villains can do if they can gain access to other realities.

Although parallel Spock and Capt. Kirk are the best alternate versions of any characters...ever. ( IMO) Ha!

Posted by The Impersonator

@Wonder Princess said:

Awesome reading. I have always loved the alternate worlds stuff.

Posted by LordRequiem

I so loathe Annihilus. How can a brainless other-worldly lizard lead armies?

Posted by ThomasElliot

I love alternate reality stuff (my favorite episode of Trek are the alternate reality ones or altered timelines, and Back To The Future is the tits), but I'm not gonna go bananas over this just because its a blog that involves alternate realities. Like others have stated... blood samples, hair samples... so... the question:

Why doesn't anyone use or go to an alternate reality to gain information to use in their own reality?

Answer: Because its stupid in the realm of storytelling. Its the equivalent of asking why didn't the Duke boys just take a side road instead of jumping over the river in the General Lee. Because it would be one awful TV show if they did.

Posted by ArtisticNeedham

I was recently thinking, not only does Spider-Man have to worry about keeping his identity secret by not loosing his mask or someone seeing him change into costume and such, but now he has to worry about his clone Kaine too. What if someone saw Kaine change into costume? Wouldn't Peter's identity now be revealed as the Scarlet Spider?

Posted by danhimself

@Jordanstine: Bruce has erased all of the Bat Family's fingerprints, dental records, dna records to keep this from happening

Posted by IronHerc

@ArtisticNeedham:

But if you noticed, they kinda look the same but kaine looks buffer than peter. He can endanger peter's identity sure, but as well they might see him as a look alike

Posted by Manchine

This is used in Invincible with Armstrong. He received knowledge of all the different realities. This allowed him to know everything about Invincible.

Posted by JonesDeini

@ltbrd said:

@Jordanstine: It does seem a bit strange but then again not everyone's fingerprints or DNA are in a database. I mean, why would someone randomly take Bruce Wayne's DNA or fingerprints. Now if we consider continuity and the fact that Bruce has been in jail before than its possible his fingerprints were taken.......but he wears gloves as Batman so that stops that possible identity slip. DNA is even more hit or miss and is only now becoming such a strong point of identification or legal precedence. But there isn't a random database somewhere with all of our DNA info stored in it (or is there?????).

Your comment reminds me of the JLU episode "Epiloque" where Amanda Waller tells Terry about his origin and how finding Bruce's DNA wasn't hard as he "left it all over town". Of course she already knew at that point Bruce Wayne was Batman.

Bruce has taken steps to stop this from happening, the specifics aren't explained but you see it addressed in either Batman #1/2.

Posted by Lexino

@LordRequiem said:

I so loathe Annihilus. How can a brainless other-worldly lizard lead armies?

He's a bug, not a lizard. and he's not brainless, he was smart enough to wipe out billions in the Annihilation Wave.

His armies are his spawn with a hive-mind mentality

And he has the Cosmic Rod, a symbol of power.

Posted by bluehulk11

IT's time for batman to meet batman to meet batman to meet batman to meet batman to meet batman

Posted by G-Man

@Lexino said:

And he has the Cosmic Rod, a symbol of power.

Not anymore...!

Posted by arcanineryu2

ive actually thought about this topic a great deal in the past few years. its amazing how much the ability to travel between universes can be abused, i mean even taking a single i-pod, with music on it from another universe, could make you a fortune in the music industry. and not only that, but it would also be a perfectly legal way for savvy heroes and the like to make money. but ive also considered how information gained in other universes can be abused (in fact alot of my fanfics revolve around heroes getting trapped in similar universes and using information learned to gain an advantage in both universes.) but i also found out that one of the most dangerous things that could happen to the main comic book universes would be interaction with our universe. i mean their entire history, their biggest secrets, where all the super-weapons are and how to defeat almost any enemy, all in a glossy easy to acquire format on a world that's virtually undefended by their standards. or in reverse, if some geek from here were to go to their universe. heck, more than half the people on this website have enough knowledge to completely topple our favorite comic book universe's, and how many would avoid meeting batman in person if given the chance? or even worse, using our knowledge to actually gain superpowers and become an actual hero (or villain) in that universe? if that happens then your chance of letting something slip (or getting stuff tortured out of you) and having that influence things in a drastic way becomes almost 100%.

just something to think about.

Edited by ArtisticNeedham

@IronHerc: Yeah but, say Jameson travels to where ever Kaine ends up, and he sees the Scarlet Spider swing around a corner. He gets mad and goes to tell him off, and sees him taking off his costume. And to him, not knowing there is a Kaine, and not seeing them side by side, thinks its Peter Parker. He has known Parker for years, knows what he looks like, but hasn't worked side by side for a while so maybe Parker grew his hair out and got buffer. Now Jameson thinks Parker is Spider-Man, but calling himself Scarlet Spider.

Even if that, or anything like that, never happens, Peter would probably still worry about that all the time. Growing a beard and long hair would sort of just make him look like Peter with a beard and long hair. I thought of this when they were at the train station, what if Aunt May saw Kaine? She knows Peter doesn't have a brother or a twin or a cousin who looks just like him.

Edited by ArtisticNeedham

@danhimself: Sort of like that show "Person of Interest?"

In Invincible that enemy who travels to different universes, don't remember his name, could just have had one of the alternate Invincibles go on TV and take off his mask on the air and say "I am Mark Grayson, I am Invincible." That would have completely ruined Mark's life forever, and I guess it could still happen.

Posted by Shamelesslysupportinaznballers

It's a comic, no point in using real world logic.

Posted by danhimself

@ArtisticNeedham: never watched it....so.......sure!

Posted by Omertalvendetta

@danhimself: That still doesn't prevent someone from gathering Wayne's blood and Batman's blood and making the match...... they would have to suspect, of course, but a good writer can make this happen.

Posted by Maki_P

I love Parallel Universes! And now I have this FanFic idea (that I got from reading a great Young Justice AU FanFic) where some World-Altering thing happens and throws civilians from different Universes into other Universes, so they know things the average person from the Universe they're in (like the identity of a Hero who went public in their universe but not in this one). Most of my characters are honorable, but some aren't. Imagine what you could do if you knew Superman's or Spider-man's secret identity; or if your Universe is in the Future....

Posted by RedheadedAtrocitus

Multiversal realities are something that make comics interesting, so I have no doubt that abuse of alternate-timelines/realities could help villains to their advantage. Alternate realities not so much since obviously a different reality means different rules and no two villains or heroes are the same in those separate spheres, but I could definitely see the alternate-timeline as being a dangerous weapon just like you mention. All one needs to see is the future to see where people have gone and where they are going. The very subject really is making me yearn for Grant Morrison's proposed Multiversity series that has been teased to us over and over again for at least the last 2 and a half years. Great stuff reality.

On the issue of Marvel's and DC's fluidity between alternate realities, well, we all know that has been addressed over and over. But what about for some independent or smaller companies? One in particular I'm curious about is Image. Like, can it be said that Image has a multiverse? After all, the events of Walking Dead and Invincible and Spawn and Savage Dragon do not coincide, so I would have to assume the world of Rick Grimes is similar to what Alan Moore's Watchmen was to DC. Kinda makes it a curious situation if an insidious enemy of Spawn's rogue's gallery wished to gain access to the Walking Dead reality and try and be head honcho.

Multiversal shenanigans have been an integral part of comics ever since the Secret Wars and Crisis on Infinite Earths. The possibilities for abuse are endless!

Posted by difficlus

@ArtisticNeedham said:

I was recently thinking, not only does Spider-Man have to worry about keeping his identity secret by not loosing his mask or someone seeing him change into costume and such, but now he has to worry about his clone Kaine too. What if someone saw Kaine change into costume? Wouldn't Peter's identity now be revealed as the Scarlet Spider?

Kaine will be a good boy, he better be...

Posted by goldenkey

My favorite example of this is in "Wanted" where the villians go to other realities to steal. The story is an alternate universe where Supermans rogues gallery goes to war with Batman rogues gallery. Lex Luthor gives what can be either Vandal Savage or Ras Al Ghul a Kryptonite condom for a gift. hillarious

Posted by Potanis

Nice read!

Posted by Maki_P

@arcanineryu2: I'd like to read something like that

Posted by HexThis

I've always wondered why alternate realities that are, perhaps, "better" don't have more of an effect on heroes. Luke Cage and Peter Parker in the House of M universe were married to other women and it was initially posed as an issue but never really addressed later. See, that's what I want to see! When an alternate reality actually is better and a superhero ultimately has to abandon it because they must protect their own! Heart-wrenching.

Some alternate reality characters are quite cool though like AOA Gwen Stacy. They've always tried really stupid methods of trying to bring her back via flashbacks, a cousin, a clone, blah, blah, blah. Meanwhile, AOA Gwen could've more than compensated for any one of those- she was awesome! She hadn't even met Peter Parker yet (though when she did, he died) and had learned to hone her fighting instincts, I've always thought they should bring her in....

Posted by Eyz

Such an interesting subject...

See, silly Hollywood producers? Why couldn't we have more of SLIDERS?

Posted by Sammo21

@Jordanstine: I would assume they have gotten around that by not having his DNA or records on file anywhere. This kind of came up in Batman #2 I think (recently) when Dick Grayson's skin was found under the fingernails of a murder victim but no one had anything on file to match it up against as it was deleted from anyone's database.

Posted by EganTheVile1

Well even though they all still fight in their costumes, I can not help but think of Earth-9939, Spider-Man, Daredevil, Doctor Strange, and Punisher simply refer to one another as Peter, Matt, Stephen, and Frank... I think if my recollection serves most surviving heroes are on a first name basis in that reality, then again, there is so little humanity left alive that there is no purpose for secret identities, now that reality was visited by Death's Head II, Death Metal, and Death Wreck, so since they all reside in the 616 reality now, that is a valid question, if an alternate version of yourself is loose with the secret identity, what is stopping a reality hopper from figuring it out.

Posted by nickthedevil

I love alternate realities and counterparts. for some reason i find them so much better. my favorite examples are the Crime Syndicate of Amerika and Reverse-flash.

Posted by lionellaflare

Bruce Waynes filed DNA is falsified... so all the Batman blood in the world wont tie him to bruce wayne..

Posted by TheMisanthrope

There is a villain introduced in JLA Secret Files called Red King who uses a lot of alternate realities as testbeds to attain wealth and power (both the regular and super type!). Its a bit complicated and I'm sure I can explain it right, so here's the Wikipedia article:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_King_%28DC_Comics%29