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Elseworlds: How the Justice League Formed a CENTURY Before the DC Universe

The DC multiverse is a vast place, with each world feeling unique and special in its own way. In some timelines, the heroes of the DC Universe are born to different eras in time, helping create entirely different worlds as a result. Some realities even share a general time period, as revealed by stories from the Elseworlds imprint — although the events of each create vastly different futures for mankind. For example, if the Justice League had actually been formed through sciences at the end of the 19th century, it could have changed the course of history.

Here’s what would have happened if the Justice League had been formed a century before the DC Universe.

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JLA: Age of Wonder by Adisakdi Tantimedh, P. Craig Russell and Galen Showman imagines a world where, in the late 19th century, Lex Luthor is an employee to Thomas Edison. He’s in the middle of an interview with Lois Lane when Clark Kent makes his public debut by flying the first piece of the future Statue of Liberty to America. Clark works with Luthor and Nikolai Tesla to create a league of likeminded heroes and scientists. Clark is dubbed Superman by the press and considered a beacon of the future.

Discovering the truth of his origins from his parents, Clark shares information about Krypton with the League — now including Star-Man and the Flash. The Waynes are murdered in a terrorist attack (orphaning their son Bruce) and Green Arrow becomes a hero to the working class. A dying Abin Sur is convinced by Superman to give his ring to Hal Jordan, who promptly joins the League.

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The world progresses further and faster into the future — but Luthor finally turns on his allies when they force him to abandon a potentially powerful (but dangerously radioactive) element. In-fighting soon tears at the League and Luthor convinces Jordan to blast Superman into space — leading him to be declared dead by the world. By 1911, the League still exists, having recruited Plastic Man and Atom to replace the long-MIA Superman. Meanwhile, the mysterious Batman roams the streets and Luthor is made the guardian to a young Amazonian Princess named Diana, who was made homeless by the German occupation of Thymiscara. Jordan’s efforts to save British lives from a German offensive catapult America into the war.

Jordan is furious to discover that it was Lex who orchestrated the battle, which directly led to the destruction of London. Not understanding the full situation, Diana defends Lex — giving Luthor the chance to stab Jordan in the back with an ax. With his last act, Jordan sends his ring to find Superman. When he returns to Earth, Clark rejoins the League and heads to the front lines.

Batman confronts Diana and learns the truth about Luthor selling weapons to the Germans — even providing them the means to destroy London. Wonder Woman and Batman face Luthor and when Luthor’s invention malfunctions, Diana sacrifices her life to contain the blast. Luthor is arrested and executed for treason. In the aftermath, Superman helps form the Justice League of Nations, where the world can come together in peace.

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In JLA: The Island of Doctor Moreau by Roy Thomas and Steve Pugh, a shipwrecked Snapper Carr is spotted in the open ocean by Prof. Ivo and his assistant Komodo near the end of the 19th century. Carr discovers that the boat contains multiple unique animals, which are being brought to the mysterious island of Doctor Moreau.

On the island are Moreau’s half man/half animal creations, including Jubatus (a half-man/half cheetah with superspeed), Delphinius (a half man/half dolphin Aquaman who can speak to marine life), Dianna (a super-strong albino gorilla Wonder Woman) and Bernardus (a former dog with electrical powers). Known by Moreau as the Justifiers of Law to the Anointed, he also introduces his two newest creations: Dirius the Hawkman and Black Arrow, a porcupine person.

When the group is introduced to society in London, the police panic and attempt to arrest them all. Deciding to prove the usefulness of his creations, Moreau decides to use the heroes to investigate the Jack the Ripper murders. The longer the investigation continues, however, the more the creatures revert to their animalistic ways. They eventually track Jack down and discover he’s actually the first of Moreau’s creations. He attempts to convince the others to ally with him, but Dianna kills him. Accidentally tasting the blood of their fallen, the JLA revert to a harsher ideology — one where they eat flesh, drink blood and hunt whatever or whoever they want.

The group eventually turns on Moreau, who shoots and fatally wounds Delphiniums. Dianna kills Ivo in response and leads many of them against their creator — although a handful, such as Komodo, Black Arrow and Bernardus stand by Moreau. A fight breaks out and Snapper Carr is knocked out, then wakes to discover all the combatants are dead. Deciding Moreau’s secrets should die with him, Carr sets the building aflame and leaves the scene, denying this world any chance for a restored JLA.

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What would have happened to the DC Universe if the Justice League had been formed at the end of the 19th century?

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