Earth-5 Timeline

Supposedly an Earth that appeared in the opening pages to Crisis #1, this Earth was notable in that not a single costumed character appeared in the one sequence we saw. I have appropriated this number for what I was personally referring to previously as Earth-Null. It is, to use Jess Nevins' terminology, a Fallow Earth: "while humanity develops in the usual ways, there is a distinct lack of the advanced, esoteric, and generally marvelous energies & scientific principles that make so many other worlds interesting and interesting and/or dangerous to visit. On Earth-5 the square-cube law works, so that beings cannot grow to giant size, for their limbs will collapse under them. On Earth-5 exposure to radiation never brings super-powers, only radiation poisoning. On Earth-5 flight can only be achieved mechanically. On Earth-5 telepathy and ESP are only fantasy. On Earth-5 there are no superheroes. But there are heroes." (for the original, cf. Liberators #24)

Earth-5 is notable as not only does it not have a Krypton or a Paradise Island, but there is a notable lack of the heroic figures in its history that we have come to associate with the other Earths in the Multiverse (such as Robin Hood and Ivanhoe). Despite that, the population resembles that of Earth-1, save that its inhabitents often appear a generation later (as was the case with some of the direct Earth-1 and Earth-2 counterparts). There are some comic books on Earth-5, however they probably do not feature the full selection as we know it; they at least have horror comics and may otherwise be similar to the pirate strip-dominated industry as shown in Watchmen. The closest they have to recognisable superheroes would probably be Swamp Thing, and characters like the Black Pirate, Captain Fear or Leatherwing.

Earth-5 is not completely without adventure fiction however; Detective Comics #500 shows the existence of novels featuring Sherlock Holmes, Herule Poirot, and Miss Marple. I also postulate there are Doc Savage, Avenger, and Shadow pulp stories. However, these characters never become publically known to the same degree, remaining nothing but obscure cult phenomena.

One wonders how their religions developed with no heroic legends. But the Incan gold statuette depicted in Detective #500 could simply have been that of an Incan king. John McDonagh postulates Earth-5 may have developed a deistic or rationalist approach, with no revealed religions such as Islam, Trinitarian Christianity, etc, and probably no Hinduism or Shintoism. Ironically, their world is said to be full of "crime and terrorism"...a lot of rationalists suggest that if people did not believe in violent documents such as the Bible and the Koran, there would be a lot less terrorism! Thanks to John for the Greg Saunders and Peter Parker entries and for the inclusion of Paul Kirk.

 

1800's
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A young James Howlett leaves home in Canada after an alteraction where the manor's gardener Logan dies. Howlett takes Logan's name. (next issue blurb in What Th' #19; rest speculation based on the Origin mini-series)

c. 1918
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"Scream of the Condor" by George Bruce, which appeared in George Bruce's Sky Fighters; reprinted by Philip Jose Farmer in his feral man anthology Mother was a Lovely Beast. John Craig was a foundling raised by condors; he returns to civilisation and becomes a brilliant fighter pilot. Although a generation earlier and dying at the story's end, he is plainly the Earth-5 Black Condor.

1932
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Kenneth Robeson (in "The Savage Shadow" by Maxwell Grant, presumably Philip Jose Farmer under a pen-name, appearing in Weird Heroes #8) is suffering from writer's block when he becomes involved in a case which brings him into contacts with numerous odd personages, notably Doctor Marcel Sebastien LeClerc du Bronce du Fauve, who is suffering from jaundice and accompanied by a troupe of several stalwart fellow alcoholics; and Ricardi Bensoni, a ruthless gangster known as "Il Vendicativo." These encounters inspire him to create the characters Doc Savage (and his stalwart assistants) and the Avenger.
A second story in the series, authored by Kenneth Robeson and revealing how Maxwell Grant came to create The Shadow, was never published.

1941
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Paul Kirk, Manhunter (created by Ed Moore) is a regionally well-known private detective and "tracer of missing persons" who helps out Police Chief Tim Holden in an unnamed Georgia city in adventures chronicled in Adventure Comics # 58-72.

1953
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As revealed in Crime Suspenstories #18 , private investigator Greg Saunders is asked by a friend to look into the disappearance of his wife. Saunders does so, but begins to suspect that his client is hiding something. Saunders comes to the conclusion that his client killed his own wife, and only hired Saunders in order to divert suspicion from himself.
Saunders goes traces his client's actions back for the last few weeks. He discovers that his client took a book out of the library. Breaking into the client's home, he finds the book-a crime novel narrated by a private investigator! Reading through it, he finds out its about a private investigator hired by an old friend to look for his missing wife. In the novel, the client comes home to find the private eye having broken into his home, and shoots the private eye.
Suddenly, there is a knock at the door. The private eye, jumpy because of the book, shoots first. It is the woman he was looking for! Puzzled, he is confronted by his client with a gun. The client reveals that he anticipated that Greg Saunders would follow this track, based on his knowledge of Saunders' methods. He set this up so that Saunders would be tricked into killing his own wife for him, as he met someone else. He knew everything that Saunders would do-since he wrote the crime novel!

1958
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Cartoonists Stan Lee, Roy Coles and Jack Kirby, among others working for Marvel Comics at the time, attend a disasterous party at the domicile of Susan and Jonathan Sturm, enountering among others the scientist Reed Richards, the boxer Benjamin Grimm, and Johnny's friend Richard Mannelman. Events from this party become a private legend among the Marvel Bullpen, and are later used in an experimental comic which attempts to merge the science fiction and adventure genres, The Fantastic Four. Although the comic develops a cult following, low sales lead to an early cancellation, the same fate which befell an earlier stylistic experiment, Vapor Girl. Information revealed in Unstable Molecules #'s 3 and 4.
Also of note is Fantastic Four V3#47, which portrayed a reality in which Ben Grimm stayed in the military; the story showed Captain Savage with Grimm, so Captain Savage has an Earth-5 counterpart.

1962
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A young Peter Parker wakes up and goes downstairs to have breakfast with his Aunt May and Uncle Ben. He will never be bitten by the radioactive spider, and absolutely nothing important or exciting will happen to him. The Watcher observes this from Earth-616. (One-page gag from What Th' #19)
Since this Parker is shown living with his aunt and uncle, this suggests that he is an orphan. Possibly the circumstances of the deaths of Peter Parker's parents for Earth-5 could be substantially similar to those of Earth-616. They died as secret agents while working against Albert Malik, the Communist Red Skull. Based on the reports of frequent warfare and terrorism on Earth-5, I would guess that there are plenty of secret agents active there. However, I would have to say that for an Earth-5 Albert Malik, he would not have been the Red Skull, unless that was a nickname given to him; in any event Malik would not have worn the Red Skull mask for Earth-5.
Actually, there is a little more room for speculation. Around Amazing Spider-Man #200, they established that Carradine, the burglar who killed Ben Parker, went after the Parker house because he knew of a secret stash of cash a gangster named Dutch Malone stored there. I think that this could still have happpened on Earth-5, but since Parker never gains spider-powers, he would not have been at the TV station to let the burglar slip away. Had he been with his aunt and uncle when the burglar showed up at their house, he probably could have done nothing anyway.

1981
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Written by Alan Brennert in Detective Comics #500, the Phantom Stranger, sensing the Earth-1 Bruce Wayne's continuing grief over the deaths of his parents, grants him the chance to travel to Earth-5, where Bruce Wayne is still a boy, where Thomas and Martha Wayne have not yet died (they were walking home from viewing Annie Hall), and where he might have a chance to save them. He succeeds in doing so ... and inspires the young Bruce Wayne to become a hero.
As events on this Earth happen exactly 20 years after they occurred on Earth-1 (at least in regards to this case), this story was designated by Craig Shutt as taking place on Earth 20.

1982
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Written and illustrated by William Messner-Loebs in Bizarre Sex #10, Rex Mason dresses up as a woman and foils a mugger as "Rex Mason, Boy Transvestite." It was Loebs himself who pointed out to me that the character has the same name as Metamorpho the Element Man.

1995
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Written by Mark Millar in Swamp Thing #150-something, a still-human Alec Holland mourns the death of his wife. His daughter is shown reading a copy of a comic book about the Swamp Thing. The Earth-1 Swamp Thing visits this Earth, leaving behind one of his bodies for Holland to experiment on, with unknown consequences.