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mygif

There is perhaps no better example of this than the Star Wars Infinities comics.

I remember thinking that when Yoda crashed the Justice Star (the super weapon formally known as the Death Star) into Coruscant, or when Han Solo was running around thinking he was a Jedi, or when Darth Vader stepped out in white armor as a good guy that these were simultaneously the awesomeest and the stupidest Star Wars related pieces of fiction I had ever seen.

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mygif

How does Fringe figure into this, though? That wasn’t just a brief storyline, their alternate universe was the entire point of 4/5ths of the entire series.

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mygif

What is this ‘porn’ that you speak of?

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Diego Ibarra said on January 13th, 2013 at 2:07 am

In the much later “Here Comes Tomorrow” storyline, Beast isn’t a villain because it’s a logical extension of Scott’s retirement from the team…

Well, except it is. Beast’s Kick-induced fall comes from his failure to keep the school together once all of the usual candidates are off the table. So the fact that it was Beast actually made sense for me given what we were shown.

I mean, who else was going to step up to the plate in that timeline? Wolverine? Can you picture him running a sch–Oh.

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mygif

Of course! Much in the same way eating a chocolate bar is like porn, because it gives us pleasure as well! And how we enjoy that break from our five fruit and veg! Or going to that different store is like porn, because we enjoy it, and it is different! Or listening to a Brian Eno album! Or watching a sit com with character development! THEY ARE ALL LIKE PORN!

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mygif

this is just why it’s just so much a waste of time. everyone dies! now tune in next month for the regular, ‘real’ adventures of our heroes. Mind, there are some great explorations of it, but so much alternate reality stuff is just, because character a didn’t do blank, everyone dies.

that said, love me some ‘Turn Left.’

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Ian Austin said on January 13th, 2013 at 6:38 am

Pretty much.

BUT… they can be more. They can give hints as to where characters wind up. Ideally you’d have, ala Bendis’s first post Siege Avengers story, a world where it is building to something. (Namely Age of Ultron.) That approah justifies the idea of an apocalypse, ya know?

Same with Days of Future Past – it works because it ties into the fear mutants have, something which even today shapes their stories. Scott’s a dick? He’s been told of half a dozen apocalyptic futures.

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SilverHammerMan said on January 13th, 2013 at 12:45 pm

I’m not sure porn is an entirely accurate comparison, but you’re definitely right about the majority of alt-u stories. I mean, look at Marvel’s what-if catalog, how many of those stories end with a minor change causing a ton of people to die?

I would like to plug the new Age of Apocalypse series, it’s actually pretty good in my opinion, and while it’s set to crossover with some other titles in a few months the first twelve issues have all been their own thing.

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mygif

I have to say, I was a bit confused by the phrase “A traditional ‘alternate universe’ story, which is something that just about every sci-fi/fantasy series gets to from time to time…”

Being a huge fan of fanfic (at least quality fanfic), I find that EVERY series (genre notwithstanding) eventually finds an AU. And I think it’s almost an exercise in defining the character and series. Shaenon Garrity has described Narbonic as examining What It Means To Be Dave, from a plethora of angles in a multitude of contexts. (Including time travel, alternate lives, transmogrifications, and of course multiple lives.) Similarly, AUs give us the chance to try to define our fandom: how different can we make this while still keeping it recognizably the same? I could imagine a universe where Kal-El was raised as a weapon by someone like Luthor – he could be a villain and recognizably the same character – but I couldn’t see a human Clark Kent being bitten by a radioactive spider and peppering his opponents with quips while fighting. Situations where the characters from our universe meet with their counterparts from an alternate universe give us a better understanding of both the limits of the characters and their understanding of themselves… as in this fic about the crew from Star Trek TOS reflecting on meeting the crew from Star Trek 2009.

In some ways, it’s about porn: let’s skip the hard work of development and skip straight to the character/plot payoff! In some ways, it’s the opposite of porn: examining the heart and soul rather than the trappings of the story. Depends on the version.

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mygif

@Diego Ibarra: Beast becoming team leader, I can buy. Beast taking Kick to enhance his intelligence (which has never been portrayed as a mutant power of his, and being of genius-level intelligence, he’s surely smart enough to know that a drug that enhances his mutant powers won’t help him get smarter) is one of those clear and obvious pieces of writer fiat determining a character’s decisions that’s brushed under the rug of, “It’s an alternate universe, mmmkay?”

@Kirala: I try not to say, “Every single fictional series” does anything, because someone out there is going to say, “Oh yeah? Well, what about ‘Harsh Realm’? ‘Harsh Realm’ ran for nine whole episodes and not a single one of them was an alternate universe story, so your whole premise is completely and totally invalid!” :)

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mygif

@John Seavey: If porn gets Rule 34 online, AU fanfic gets Rule… I dunno, 43? Is that taken? There are several series without AUs in canon (usually due to brevity – Firefly came to mind when I was typing), but fanfic tends to get there pretty quickly.

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mygif

I know I felt very satisfied at the end of “Punisher Kills The Marvel Universe”.

@HrolfK You should try searching the internet. I hear there’s some available somewhere.

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mygif

Buffy is always safe in the Buffyverse

Have you WATCHED Buffy?

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mygif

I was about to say, “Well, are alternate universes fundamentally misogynist?”, then I realised that we were talking about the comic book industry.

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mygif

The 90′s What If? series tended to be like this as well. Not a lot of happy endings, but more than a few mass slaughters of heroes.

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The Unstoppable Gravy Express said on January 14th, 2013 at 11:47 am

I used to enjoy a good dose of “What If?” for that reason. There was a Phoenix one in which not only did all the X-Men die, but the entire universe was consumed.

“WHAT IF… Daredevil ordered Chinese instead of pizza?! Well, the pizza man would have taken a different route, running over the guy about to kill Uncle Ben… NO SPIDERMAN! And without Spiderman at this OTHER crucial junction, IRON MAN DIES! And because of that THOR DIES and HULK DIES and ALL MUTANTS DIE and EVERY OTHER SUPERHERO DIES and J. JONAH JAMESON DIES and SO MUCH DEEEEEEAAAAATHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!”

These days I guess we have Marvel Zombies for that kind of fix.

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mygif

“[D]espite the subtext of many episodes involving the idea that what separates Buffy from other Slayers who’ve died young is her friendships and connections with the everyday world, the only sign that Buffy is any less skilled as a Slayer is the little scar on her lip.”

And there’s also the fact that she also, well, dies young.

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mygif

Yeah, Wish-Buffy dies at the Master’s hand. Regular Buffy did that too, but her friends literally saved her (no subtext about it).

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ScienceGiant said on January 14th, 2013 at 3:47 pm

As further proof AU is porn, I offer this observation: I only just this month realized that the “Days of Future Past” dystopia was different then the “Age of Apocolypse” one. And that was only because I wiki-ed to see why Legion rated his own series and saw the complex flow-chart that is history if you kill the right/wrong mutant on any given day.

House to Astonish tweeted me that DoFP was 2 issues, and AoA was 40 issues, so killing Professor Xavier has an X-change rate of 20 times greater then killing Senator Kelly. But even given thirty years to notice the difference, the rap-sack worlds were interchangable.

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mygif

Star Trek’s Mirror Universe works the same way.

Who here agrees with the premise that ST: Enterprise’s two-parter foray into the Mirror Universe – with Archer a schizoid, T’Pol and Tucker at each other’s throats over her raping him, Hoshi a femme fatale, and 90 percent of the cast getting killed off in extremely karmic fashion – was the best story in that troubled series?

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Walter Kovacs said on January 14th, 2013 at 5:34 pm

It can easily fall into lazy writing … but heck, you don’t have to compare it to porn … it’s fan fiction or well, comic book writing. It’s having it’s cake and eating it to in terms of continuity (like an episode of the Simpsons) by being able to do whatever they want with the characters. In TV, it’s often a bone thrown to the actors who might be tired of playing the same character for so long.

When it’s done well, it can be used to foreshadow and reveal important character elements. For example, the Titans of Tommorow which showed Tim Drake as a gun toting Batman might have just been “hey, it’s Batman with a Gun!” … but it did sort of echo forward into the last arc before the reboot, where Tim seemed ready to plot the death of Captain Boomerang. The cartoon JLU used the Justice Lords as not just a fun AU story, but a sort of ‘warning’ to both the league, and to Waller and company, which spawned an entire season of stories that seemed to be leading to the AU possibly becoming a reality.

It does depend a lot on whether anyone remembers. If you have a time travel/AU story where no one remembers, it’s at best something for the audience to gain some insight into characters. If the characters in universe remember it can have more lasting effects as their behavior is altered by trying to prevent the AU or future from happening.

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mygif

@Kirala: Actually, some versions of Rule 43 are pretty apt in this situation: “The more beautiful and pure a thing is, the more satisfying it is to corrupt it.”

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mygif

I was going to make a comment about how ridiculously strained the comparison to porn is, but Darren K’s is better and funnier than mine would have been.

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HonestObserver said on January 20th, 2013 at 10:25 pm

As a fan of alternate history, I jizz in your general direction, sir.

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Jonathan Roth said on January 25th, 2013 at 1:25 am

If I recall, the original DC universe Tangent series didn’t go dystopian (the second series did.) he’ll, Earth’s one and two were alternate universe stories that didn’t exist for apocalyptic sake. I think that saying that AUs exist “just to give fangasms” doesn’t say much; I mean, what story isn’t written to be enjoyed? Calling it similar to porn makes the stories seems single-minded, and I disagree. Darwin Cooke’s “New Frontier” has a few dystopian elements, but was really about the 50′s and sixties and not about making good bad, bad good, or killing off a bunch of characters. “Sqaudron Supreme” had a bunch of dead characters, but would anyone say it was the point of the series? And look at Alan Moore’s work on Supreme, on alternate universes and Superman and such. Would anyone say that series was was for those causes? I think that comparing AU to porn is sloppy work. All fiction is alternate universe, and DCs else world stories about Batman vs. Jack the Ripper or Superman in the civil war weren’t about dystopia, or reversing heroes/villains morals, or making the comic relief a bad ass. Look at more AU stories before stereotyping them.

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