With Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter out in theaters now, there’s a whole sub-genre coming to the forefront of fiction: Alternate History. This genre is where writers are free to play with and shape historical events and figures to their own purposes and we as readers see the ripple effect. There have been various uses of this is comics throughout their history, but here’s a few examples that you may want to look into.
Superman Red Son, written by Mark Millar with art by Dave Johnson, is one of those great “What if…” stories. “What if Superman didn’t land in America?” Superman, who’s secret identity is a state secret, lands in the Ukraine and is raised to be ” the Champion of the common worker who fights a never-ending battle for Stalin, socialism, and the international expansion of the Warsaw Pact.” Premiering in April 2003, this book was nominated for a 2004 Eisner Award for Best Limited Series.
Watchmen, Alan Moore’s commentary on super-heroes, is an obvious choice for this list. A 12 issue series released from 1986 to 1987, Watchmen is one of the more well-known comics in pop-culture and for good reason. It presents a world where super-heroes emerged in the 1940’s and 50’s, helping America later win the Vietnam War. Shedding light on super-heroes in general, Moore brings us a gritty world where not everything is as it seems and masked crusaders are, at the end of the day, still human.
PT Barnum. A household name? For sure. Secret agent for Grover Cleveland who, aided by his circus companions, is given the task of thwarting an attempt to destroy the Union and defeating Nikola Tesla? Perhaps.
Alan Moore brings together some of the more adventurous figures in Victorian fiction in this action/adventure/mystery set in 1898. Mina Murray (Harker), Allan Quatermain, The Invisible Man, Dr Jekyll and his companion Mr Hyde and Captain Nemo join forces at the request of M, the mysterious head of the Secret Service. This is a group of people the likes of London has never seen.
This Tales of The Multiverse story collects Batman & Dracula: Red Rain, Batman: Bloodstorm and Batman: Crimson Mist into one single volume. These stories, coming out in the 90’s and written by Doug Moench, bring us a dark, gothic Gotham with the Dark Knight in the middle of the sweeping darkness. Eric Van Lustbader writes in the foreword, “For, after all, though Batman is – and always has been – a champion of justice, his has been a cruel justice, one of fear, intimidation and dark vengeance.” For any guys out there wanting to get their lady friends who like vampires into Batman, this might be the perfect introduction.