I think alternate realities have become too much of a story point in comics. There was once a time when I could believe that the various universes were actually alternate realities, portrayed in comic book form. But when there’s an event that wipes out all the alternate realities or beings that are supposed to interact with various realities (perhaps even Omniversal beings), it becomes harder to keep that mentality.

Now, usually these descrepancies are handled with a “Multiverse” system, where the universes we see, comic or otherwise, are in their own Multiverse. This protects them from the destruction of the Infinite Earths of one Multiverse. It spares them from judgement of an Omniversal judge.

It’s generally explained that these Multiverses are a collection of similar universes. This, however, is usually not depicted well. Just look at the Squadron Supreme universe in Marvel. Also, I just don’t like that idea. It means that there aren’t worlds where some of the various heroes work alongside those of other companies. It means that the Batman/Captain America crossover or the Teen Titans/X-Men crossover, among other stories, can’t be placed anywhere.

These Multiverses exist so that the various companies can do large-scale things involving multiple realities and not have to mention their competitors or the characters from somewhere else (like TV or movies). DC can mold its Multiverse to only have fifty-two worlds. Marvel can have the Exiles parade through various realities that conveniently only have Marvel or Marvel-related characters.

This notion of Multiverses and related universes conflicts with my notion of choices determining alternate realities. Ignoring legal reasons, it stops stories from being told that involve characters normally from different realities. That last one has somewhat been avoided, as Clark Kent exists in Marvel. And he, Lois, Cyclops, and Jean Grey appeared in Wildcats. So there have been stories that somewhat lend credence to there not really being Multiverses after all. I just need some way to explain why Roma and the Living Tribunal don’t show up in DC and I’ll be set.