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Published January 13, 2020

This Week in Marvel Universes: Earth-616

Get to know a different part of the Marvel Multiverse every week on This Week in Marvel!

It’s Marvel Multiverse time on This Week in Marvel! Every week throughout 2020, we’ll look across the Marvel Multiverse and share cool stories about all the different universes that have been mentioned and made appearances in Marvel Comics. Some will be big explorations of universes, some will be little dives into universes that tie into other stuff we’re talking about. 

The amazing teams at Marvel Comics have a MASSIVE compendium of Marvel Universes, each of which is designated with a number. First up, our main Marvel Universe: Earth-616. But for our inaugural post, I’ll also go into the numbering and naming system in general before we start our journey! (You can also listen to the discussion on the latest episode of This Week in Marvel!)

Earth-616

Earth-616 first began in the pages of CAPTAIN BRITAIN by writer David Thorpe. He was working on CAPTAIN BRITAIN comics for Marvel UK in the early ‘80s alongside artist Alan Davis. (This was shortly before Alan Moore came on.) During their run, Thorpe came up with a bunch of ideas that would be used by Moore and others, and the multiverse numbering system was one of them. While that series is not on Marvel Unlimited, you can still read the 1985-1986 run by Jamie Delano and Davis, which also mentions those particular universes.

Captain Britan
CAPTAIN BRITAIN (1985) #6

According to a quote from him online, 616 was the worst of the parallel Earths, holding back others from moving to a new evolutionary stage. According to Thorpe, he numbered 616, the worst, as 666 minus 50. “A nice round number.”

Also, “the school in the world’s coldest town in Siberia closes when the temperature reaches 61.6 degrees Farenheit. It’s an extreme tipping point.” 

Saturnyne—another Thorpe and Davis creation—oversees the Captain Britain Corps (a sort of multiversal police force) and is tasked with guarding the Omniverse. She tries to push 616 forward.  

Captain Britain
CAPTAIN BRITAIN (1985) #1

How did we decide on the system’s numbering/naming?

While Thorpe came up with the numbering, it wasn’t until Alan Moore came on that it was used/seen in the books. Moore noted that our Captain Britain of the time, Brian Braddock, was from 616 and mentioned an Earth-238 as well. 

Chris Claremont adopted a number of characters and universe-numbering beats into his EXCALIBUR run with Alan Davis, and it really grew on its own as more creators jumped into it. The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe series of books utilized the numbering in the character profiles, the appendices of which grew out to form a more official database. There’s a team here at Marvel that catalogs and organizes the universes.  

There are thousands and thousands of catalogued universes across the multiverse, and pretty much everything has a universe number! The 2010 Planet Hulk animated film? Earth-10022. The X-Men movies? Earth-10005. Blade movies: Earth-26320. Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man movies: Earth-96283. The Marvel Cinematic Universe is Earth-199999.  

The LEGO Marvel Super Heroes game from 2013 is Earth-13122. The Maximum Carnage game is Earth-33734. And The Incredible Hulk TV show is Earth-400005.  

Even more honorable mentions that show how massive the Marvel Multiverse really is:

  • Earth-90816 – WHAT IF #16 from 1990, when Wolverine was sent back to the Hyborian Age, got down with Red Sonja, battled Conan, killed some bad dudes. Conan went to Wolvie’s time and messed up the trial of Phoenix!  
  • Earth 92164 – WHAT IF #44 from 1992, when Venom possessed the Punisher.  

You can listen to the full audio episode right here:

This is just a mere introduction of all the alternate universes in Marvel Comics and beyond – tune in every week to This Week in Marvel to find out about a different one!

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