With the villains of Earth-X, an alternate Earth in the DC multiverse in which Germany won World War II, attacking the heroes of the Arrowverse during this year's November crossover event, casual fans are already wondering: what is the deal with Earth-X?
And oh, man, can it be complicated.
On Earth-X, American President Franklin Delano Roosevelt passed away from a heart attack in 1944, leaving the country in such a state that Nazi Germany was able to develop atomic weaponry. The philosophy of mutually-assured destruction kept either side from using nuclear arms, allowing the war to drag on for decades via conventional terms.
By 1968, the Nazis had developed mind-control technology that allowed them to weaken the resolve of opponents, and the war ended. Pockets of resistance cropped up around the world, composed of freedom fighters who proved immune to the mind-control devices.
In 1973, members of the Justice League of America from Earth-One and the Justice Society of America from Earth-Two arrived on Earth-X by way of a Transmatter Cube accident. They paired off with various members of the Freedom Fighters and helped liberate the world from the Nazis.
Will we end up seeing the JSA, or at least Jay Garrick, helping The Ray to overthrow his government? Hard to say just yet, but here is a rundown of some important Earth-X/Earth-10 characters we might see (based on the poster released last week) in live-action soon.
Originally a product of Quality Comics, the Freedom Fighters are a team of superheroes who fight a never-ending battle against the forces of the New Reich, created after Germany won World War II and subjugated the rest of the globe.
The Freedom Fighters came over from Earth-2 to help fight the war, and unfortunately one of the most consistent themes over time is just watching the Freedom Fighters get killed off.
The original lineup included Black Condor, Doll Man, the Human Bomb, Phantom Lady, The Ray; The Red Bee. The Red Bee died in their first mission, saving Hourman from Baron Blitzkrieg.
The original Freedom Fighters did eventually win freedom from Nazi rule, before being erased from existence and rebooted when the Crisis on Infinite Earths merged elements of Earths 1, 2, 4, S, and X. The rebooted Freedom Fighters all existed on the same Earth with the modern-day DC heroes and fought alongside the Justice Society in World War II, rather than being from an alternate Earth (a concept DC abandoned for about a decade following Crisis).
In Infinite Crisis, the remaining Freedom Fighters (a combination of legacy heroes and their immortal leader Uncle Sam) were mostly slain during a battle with the Secret Society of Supervillains, with only a few characters surviving to launch the next generation.
That's where we come to...
Loosely translated as The Justice League (thanks to Matt Moore from Comics With Kenobi for confirming that translation), The Gerechtkeitliga is the Reich's own personal team of superheroes.
The team is otherwise known as the "Justice League Axis."
These guys were not major players in the Earth-X of yore, with the Freedom Fighters going up against their own villains more often than not (a carryover, one assumes, from having been under a different publisher for years).
When Earth-X was revived and became "Earth-10" at the end of 52, Nazi versions of DC superheroes existed there, maintaining order and the status quo much as most superheroes do in the main continuity -- but doing so in service of a status quo and a government that was morally reprehensible.
The Gerechtkeitliga is made up of Earth-10 versions of Hawkman & Hawkwoman, Wonder Woman, Superman, Batman, and The Flash.
On TV, we are clearly getting some version of this. While it is unlikely we will see Superman or the Hawks (even though they exist in the CW multiverse, they do not appear on the poster and are not series regulars), there are evil versions of The Flash, Supergirl, and Green Arrow on the poster and given the fact that those characters appeared to have been voiced by Grant Gustin, Melissa Benoist, and Stephen Amell in the animated series Freedom Fighters: The Ray, it seems likely that the heroes will face evil doppelgangers rather than simply other dudes in similar costumes.
The trailer for The Ray also appears to show The Gerechtkeitliga taking out all of the Freedom Fighters except for The Ray, which could be why he seeks out assistance from another universe.
In the case of both the Freedom Fighters and The Gerechtkeitliga, the fact that Earth-X has been reinvented numerous times makes certain things difficult to keep track of.
Additionally, simple continuity errors seem to crop up as it pertains to Superman.
That said, Superman is kind of important to explore here, as the Earth-X version of Supergirl is even more intrinsically linked to Kal-L than she is elsewhere in the multiverse (more on that later).
There is both an Earth-X Superman and an Earth-X Overman. Both come from the post-52 reinvention where Earth-X was reborn as Earth-10. It is unclear whether they were both intended to exist or whether there was simply some miscommunication between writers. Considering that The Gerechtkeitliga played a role Countdown to Final Crisis, we would be willing to bet it was the latter, since Countdown was a continuity quagmire.
The Earth-10 Superman is depicted as a blonde, Aryan-looking character with a Nazi swastika replacing the S in his chest shield. Later, he would look more like the standard Superman, but would carry the name Overman. Overman would have a Schutzstaffel-style S in the shield.
In the '80s, the Young All-Stars and Freedom Fighters faced a character called Ubermensch, who was a human man granted powers by a similar process to what gave Iron Munro (a character who would fill in for the Earth-2 Superman in flashback stories after the Crisis eliminted Earth-2 from existence).
Grant Morrison would create two different Overman characters, both of whom had ties to Earth-X: in Animal Man in the 1990, Overman was brought to life by the Psycho-Pirate as a manifestation of a remembrance of Earth-X; he battled Bizarro and Ultraman before being defeated by Animal Man. Years later, in The Multiversity, Morrison would reuse the aforementioned Overman from Countdown, but would add to his mythology a Supergirl...!
While Superman crash-landed on Earth as a baby and could therefore be shaped by the nature of the world he came to live on, Supergirl was a teenager when she arrived from Krypton, and so would presumably be able to see the evil within the Reich.
So how did DC explain Earth-10's Overgirl?
Well, she is a regular woman infused with powers from Overman's stem cells by Nazi scientists.
In Final Crisis, she fell into the Bleed and landed on New Earth, where she was found by the forces of SHADE and taken to Checkmate HQ for further analysis. Overman traveled her to rescue her, but she died in Final Crisis #7.
Little is known about Earth-10's version of The Flash, who was not even given a name.
Considering that The Gerechtkeitliga was introduced shortly after Barry Allen's return to the DC Universe, it is likely that the Earth-10 Flash is Barry -- but at this time, the Flashpoint reboot had not yet happened, so the only existing Wally West was white and given the changes to The Flash's uniform on Earth-10, it is basically impossible to know whether it is Barry or Wally under the mask.