Anything we had planned to say about "Elseworlds," the Arrowverse's latest, three-night crossover event, has been understandably derailed a bit by the revelation that next year's crossover will be an adaptation of the most ambitious crossover in comic book history, Crisis on Infinite Earths.
Rather than just focusing on some of the best Elseworlds stories, we wanted to change up the list a little bit to get more cosmic, more reality-spanning, and to prepare casual fans for a taste of the madness to come.
So...bearing in mind that this is a list that's half geared toward preparing you for what's coming, and half resplonding to the actual story and events of "Elseworlds," what should you read next if you really liked the crossover?
Well, yeah, we've got some ideas.
Crisis on Infinite Earths
At the end of "Elseworlds," The CW released a stinger-teaser revealing that next year's crossover event will be Crisis on Infinite Earths.
You can see the stinger, which serves as the first teaser for the event above, which includes the first official look at the logo.
Crisis on Infinite Earths was DC's first major line-wide crossover event, and served to "reboot" the publisher's continuity officially for the first time.
The 12-issue maxiseries saw the heroes of the DC Universe gathered together by The Monitor (who appeared in "Elseworlds," played by LaMonica Garrett) and pitted against the Anti-Monitor, a destructive force whose domain was the anti-matter universe.
The story involved every superhero in DC's multiverse, including a number of characters who had been brought into DC's fold by purchasing other publishers, but who had not officially become part of the DC Universe until then. By the end of the tale, DC's multiverse had become a single universe with a streamlined (if cluttered) world history, bringing the variant heroes of multiple Earths under the same shared continuity umbrella.
A year-long maxiseries that played out in real time as a weekly comic book, 52 felt inspired by 24 at the time, but it had a lot going for it, including an all-star creative team and a slew of new or rebooted ideas that made the story feel fresh.
Set in a DC Universe where Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman are missing in action for a year, 52 followed a group of also-ran heroes including Elongated Man, Booster Gold, and Batwoman -- who was introduced within its pages.
There's plenty of Batwoman in this story, so if you enjoyed Ruby Rose's character in "Elseworlds," this is a good place to start. It is also widely regarded as one of DC's best-ever "event" series.
"Elegy" is the best-known and the standard-bearer for all the stories to come, but frankly if you can get your hands on a trade paperback or hardcover with "Batwoman" on the title? It's probably pretty great.
If you live near an Ollie's Bargain Outlet store, DC's most recent dump of collected editions includes a title called "Batwoman by Greg Rucka and J.H. Williams III, vol. 1" for under $5. That's a steal.
JLA: Foreign Bodies
Kobra wants to take over the world and needs the moon base of the JLA as a bridgehead. With the help of Psykosis he stages some global incidents to keep the JLA busy. Then he is able to switch mind and bodies of several JLA members, e.g. Batman is now in Superman's body, Green Lantern in Martian Manhunter's body and so on. Having to adapt to their new bodies, JLA fights back when more global emergencies appear.
The trade paperback is out of print, but you can pick it up from third-party sellers on Amazon or Barnes & Noble pretty cheap.
Justice League America: Destiny's Hand
"Elseworlds" was the name of an imprint, which ran from 1989 until 2010, in which familiar characters and concepts from the DC Universe would be imported into strange and unfamiliar circumstances. The first of the Elseworlds titles was Gotham by Gaslight, which dealt with Batman hunting Jack the Ripper in Victorian Gotham. The final was Superman: Last Family of Krypton, which centered on an alternate timeline where Jor-El and Lara were able to join their son in traveling to Earth, and the world had to cope with a super-powered family.
The brand itself was just a savvier way of telling "imaginary stories," as DC used to call their non-canon tales in the pre-Crisis on Infinite Earths times -- but even within the main continuity, you would sometimes get a riff on the established DC Universe. Often, such stories would alter reality for a brief time, or at least convince the heroes that they were living in a different universe than the one readers knew.
One such story, "Destiny's Hand," centered on the return of Doctor Destiny, a villain (John Dee, represented on TV as John Deegan) who could reshape reality by using a stone called the Materioptikon, or Dreamstone, which allowed him to create entire realities by using dreams or memories.
In "Destiny's Hand," he created a dark and violent version of the Justice League, which included a black costume for The Flash.
The storyline was popular enough to get a sequel in JLA: Classified years later. You can get it in trade paperback as part of the Superman and the Justice League vol. 2 collection by Dan Jurgens, Rick Burchett, and Dave Cockrum.
Dark Nights: Metal
A story that managed to jaunt through the multiverse, have fun, dump a boatload of Easter eggs, and still take itself deathly seriously at times, all while tying into the original text of Crisis on Infinite Earths?
It's all there -- and basically every comic book store or bookstore should have this one, since it just came out in hardcover very recently.
Batman: Gotham By Gaslight
Gotham by Gaslight was popular enough to spawn a sequel as well as an animated movie and, like almost every major alternate reality in DC's history, was represented at least briefly in the free-for-all Secret Wars-style battle of Convergence (more on that in a minute).
It centers on a Victorian-era Batman who is chasing down a thinly-veiled Jack the Ripper. How could you not like it?
When Brainiac is defeated by Superman and doesn't come back, Telos's guardian -- actually just a physical manifestation of the world itself and not a being with true free will -- lowers the domes and tells the inhabitants of the cities to battle one another for the right to take over the world and be the last reality standing.
It's a strange and imperfect crossover, but we get to see a lot of what makes Elseworlds and Crisis on Infinite Earths great while visiting with some versions of characters we had thought was long gone.
Also, while they are on an alien world and without his powers, Superman and Lois Lane decide to have a baby.
The hardcover collected edition of Convergence is another book you can get for a little bit of nothing right now if you live near an Ollie's.
One of the best aspects of "Elseworlds" was how the story never fell apart, even when the characters were wandering through a seemingly-arbitrary series of fractured timelines, Easter eggs, and indulgent cameos.
Imagine that (plus the absurdity of the Legends of Tomorrow midseason finale) times about ten, and you have Evan Dorkin's absolutely brilliant World's Funnest, in which Mr. Mxyzptlk and Bat-Mite battle it out, while tearing their way through various realities and Elseworlds stories including Kingdom Come, Earth-Prime, The Dark Knight Returns, and more...all with glorious guest art providing a striking contrast to the main story and feeling tonally of a piece with the realities they visit.
This is a story that more people need to read, and to love. And it's available in a new-ish collected edition for pretty cheap.
DC Universe: Rebirth
A totally mind-blowing cliffhanger that sets the stage for an incredible adventure to come? Check.
One of the best stories written by Geoff Johns in years? Absolutely check. The Rebirth one-shot is a gem, and a bargain even in its prestige hardcover price.