I have a notion on how the concept of “alternate realities” should be handled or, at the very least, how I would handle the concept.

For every reality, a difference choice was made. They don’t necessary have to be what many might view as important choices, any choice will do. There are two times I can think of where I’ve encountered this. In the story arc “The Big M” in Exiles #50-51, the Exiles encounter a universe where the only difference between Earth 12 (Mimic’s home reality) and that one is that the Mimic of Earth 12 chose to join the X-Men, whereas this one did not. One decision. Two paths.

Another more loose example can be found in the Season 2 finale of Doctor Who (current series). In it, an alternate reality version of Pete Tyler (Rose’s father) claimed that he came from an Earth where all those ideas of his worked. One can assume they didn’t in The Doctor’s reality. How the two universes became so different is unclear, but the right idea is there.

Another thing I’ve come to accept is a genetic change. Since each person’s genetic makeup is randomly created anyway, the probabilities working out different in another reality seems plausible. In some cases, this could allow for a very similar reality, just with one person looking different. And I’m fine with that.

What I don’t like is how alternate realities are portrayed in the “Big Two” of comics, especially Marvel. Marvel seems to have this notion that universes operate at different speeds. To truly understand this concept, I would need to understand upper-level science. This is not to say it’s a bad concept, just an unnecessary one. If a reader starts to ask how things are occuring in comics, they might reach this point with some confusion. Also, Marvel seems to think that each universe it unique and that big events (such as Mad Jim Jaspers destroying reality, Scarlet Witch restructuring her universe, the Age of Apocalypse) only happen in one reality at a time. In fact, this implication in some cases is that these events only happen once, in only one reality. And that just doesn’t make sense to me.

Both DC (when it has a multiverse) and Marvel number their realities. DC’s explanation makes sense. The heroes themselves numbered them. (I don’t know how that accounts for things like Earth-D, Earth-C, Earth-X, or Earth Prime.) Marvel, however, seems to have the universes numbered as assigned by some sort of cosmic deity. (I am uncertain which one.) So which universe is designated as the first? Why? That’s the main problem. But, more importantly, Earths that are near each other seem to have little in common in some cases.

DC just needs to settle on a concept. I don’t mind the multiverse. I don’t mind Hypertime. At the moment, we have neither, but aspects of both. I’m hoping 52 will clarify.

The onyl thing I have yet to determine is how alternate realities stack together. To get to a reality that differs by a choice, does one go up, down, left, or right? I don’t know. And I’m not sure it really matters.