Marvel Multiverse

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The Seventh Doctor and Death's Head in the Prime Marvel Universe. (COMIC: Time Bomb!)
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The Marvel Multiverse is a fictional universe where the stories in most comic books and other media published by Marvel Comics are set. Consisting of thousands of separate universes, the term "Marvel Universe" usually refers to the primary Marvel continuity, known as Earth-616.[nb 1]

From 1979 to 1999, Marvel published Doctor Who Magazine and had the license to create comic stories featuring the Doctor. As such, the Doctor Who universe occasionally crossed over with pre-existing characters from the wider Marvel canon.

It should be noted that the understanding during this era was nearly consistently that the Doctor Who adventures printed under the Marvel label did take place in the main "Marvel Universe." During this era, in spite of numerous implied and explicit crossovers, no mention was ever made of the Doctor traveling between universes, typically something known to be exceptional to the Doctor. However, after the license was lost, further Marvel reference books retconned that the Doctor's universe was indeed separated from 616.

It should also be stated that in the greater Marvel canon, traveling through time itself is typically thought to transport characters to other universes. This is typically incompatible with the Doctor Who concept of cross-universe travel.

This page discusses the current understanding of the Doctor's relationship with the many universes made explicit by said reference books, although it should be noted that this information is not necessarily consistent with the content of the stories themselves.

Background[[edit]]

See also: Glossary:Reality at Marvel Database

While Marvel had been publishing stories featuring alternate realities for decades, the specific definitions used for realities and the system of numbering each reality were not concretely defined until reference handbooks in the 2000s such as Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe: Alternate Universes 2005. Much of the nature of the Multiverse and its numbering system was built upon stories from Marvel UK; "Earth-616" and others originated in the pages of The Daredevils in 1983 (which indeed included reprints of Doctor Who stories such as Star Death, and further use of the Special Executive). As such, is it important to note that while the actual concept of the Marvel Multiverse was well-established by the point of the Doctor Who crossovers, the line between realities was not often clear or even considered, and much of the currently existing reality designation relevant to the DWU was created later.

The depiction of the Omniverse in the DWM strip The Glorious Dead, including a view of Earth-616's Spider-Man.

The Marvel Multiverse is founded on the concept of the Omniverse, a concept also featured in Doctor Who stories in the same way. The Omniverse is comprised of all possible realities, real or from any fictional universe, thought of or not. These are grouped into multiverses such as the Marvel Multiverse or the DC Multiverse, often just referred to as "the multiverse" within their own context. Additionally, multiverses may at times intersect. However, beyond this, the Marvel Multiverse's "rules" begin to differ from Doctor Who. Marvel holds that any sort of reality, be it a parallel universe, alternate timeline, timeline branch, possible future, etc., is distinct from the others, and assigns it a number prefixed with Earth, as established by Earth-616. (The in-universe reason is that these realities are catalogued by the Captain Britain Corps, and overseen by Merlyn (Merlin the Wise in DWM). However, as a time-travel based franchise, Doctor Who's treatment of alternate realities is inconsistent, especially given how often "the main timeline" changes into what Marvel would consider a new, distinct universe. The following realities listed are from the perspective of the Marvel Multiverse, even if they are at times incompatible with the multiverse as depicted in Doctor Who.

Marvel realities with Doctor Who connections[[edit]]

Earth-5556[[edit]]

Merlyn and the Fourth Doctor observe a future of the Earth known to the Doctor, or Earth-5556. (COMIC: The Neutron Knights)

Although the Doctor Who universe is not exactly a single reality that could be prescribed a number, Earth-5556 is the designation generally understood to refer to "the Doctor's home reality" (or from a different understanding, potentially "N-Space"). This number originates in 2006's All-New Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe A to Z #7's biography of Merlyn, who appeared in the form Merlin the Wise in the Doctor Who Magazine comic stories The Neutron Knights and The Tides of Time. Merlyn is described as having "tracked Catavolcus to the far future of Earth-5556," where he had the aid of "the time-traveling Doctor", referring to the events of The Neutron Knights, in which Merlin brings the Fourth Doctor to a future where "the Earth as [he] knew it no longer exists". This roundabout description effectively allows Marvel to identify the Earth familiar to the Doctor as Earth-5556 without delving too deep into Doctor Who stories they lack the licence to.

For this reason, it is the Marvel Database wiki's stance that Earth-5556 refers to the Doctor's home reality as a whole. It lists as appearances of Earth-5556 every issue of Doctor Who Magazine published under Marvel, Doctor Who (1984), The Incredible Hulk Presents, Doctor Who Yearbook, as well as select instalments of Death's Head and The Incomplete Death's Head.

Earth-5[[edit]]

The Order of the Black Sun invade from Earth-5. (COMIC: 4-D War)

Another reality closely tied with the Doctor Who universe is Earth-5. It may be considered a possible future of Earth-5556. In 2008's Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe A-Z #2, Earth-5 is referred to as the home to the Order of the Black Sun from the Alan Moore-penned Black Sun War trilogy published in DWM as backup strips Star Death, 4-D War and Black Sun Rising, which depicted the Time Lords' invention of time travel and first time war. Earth-5 was first featured in the second of these stories, published in DWM 51 in 1981, although the Order member Fenris appears in the first.

Moore had earlier stated in a 1982 interview that the Order of the Black Sun were "an Earth-5 version of the Green Lantern Corps", predating the universe's official designation by twenty-six years.[1]

The Special Executive, a group of parahuman interdimensional mercenaries, would debut in the Black Sun War trilogy, where the Time Lords enlisted them to combat the Order of the Black Sun. The group was extensively further used by Moore in Captain Britain strips in The Daredevils and later in Excalibur. Executive Action, a charity story by Lance Parkin, explained the origin of the Special Executive as experiments created by Rassilon with Looms. Later official Marvel handbooks would reference this, with Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe A-Z #10's entry for the character Saturnyne mentioning that she "hired Gallifreyan parahuman interdimensional mercenaries, the Special Executive", and the entry for the Technet (a rival team to the Special Executive which at times included some of their members) in X-Men: Phoenix Force Handbook explicitly identifying at least Thug and Fascination as "loom-born Gallifreyans."

Earth-616[[edit]]

Death's Head muses his location after the Doctor brought him to the Fantastic Four's Four Freedoms Plaza on Earth-616. (COMIC: Time Bomb!)

As previously mentioned, Earth-616 is the primary continuity in which the contents of most Marvel publications are set. It too, occasionally interacted with the Doctor Who universe.

Arguably, the first appearances of Earth-616 were marked by the thirteen stories which composed Dr Who's Time Tales. The series consisted of reprints, altered to feature the Fourth Doctor, from a variety of Marvel publications including Amazing Fantasy, Amazing Adult Fantasy, Tales to Astonish, Strange Tales, Chamber of Darkness, Tales of Suspense and Journey into Mystery. However, although Marvel Database does not distinguish between the original and the reprint, it is unlikely the DWU versions are set on Earth-616 due to interdimensional travel never being mentioned by the Doctor. Thus, the more reasonable interpretation is that they take place within Earth-5556, the Doctor's home dimension, and are close analogues of the events which occurred in Earth 616 as depicted in the stories' original versions. Indeed, beyond the Doctor's appearance, the Doctor Who versions of the stories often altered various details, such as the date the story was set or some characters' names.

The first undisputed appearance of the dimension in the DWU came in the 1988 Death's Head comic story Time Bomb!. After an adventure featuring the Seventh Doctor and Death's Head, the Doctor materialised his TARDIS on top of the Four Freedoms Plaza on Earth-616. He even briefly set foot in the universe before leaving Death's Head there. Death's Head featured in two more DWU stories set partly on Earth-616, both printed in The Incomplete Death's Head and both reprints of previously published Marvel stories. These were Clobberin' Time! and Priceless!, the former set immediately after Time Bomb! and the latter reprinted from The Sensational She-Hulk.

Earth-616 arguably made a final DWU appearance in 2000 when it cameoed in the DWM comic story The Glorious Dead. (Although Panini Comics had taken over DWM entirely after issue 285, several elements of the story arc in The Glorious Dead had technically debuted under Marvel.) As Esterath explained to the Eighth Doctor about the Omniversal Spectrum, among the images seen was a distorted panel of Spider-Man battling Doctor Octopus, originally from The Amazing Spider-Man #12, first published in 1964. However, whether or not the re-used image was supposed to represent Earth-616 or to represent a different universe isn't clear. Esterath told the Doctor "You have crossed dimensional planes in the past, but always confined within your own multiversal realm", possibly indicating that all of Doctor Who and the Marvel Multiverse coexist within the same "multiversal realm".

Earth-5555[[edit]]

Death's Head stories such as Time Bomb! featured DWU characters in Earth-5555.

Another reality inherently tied with the DWU is Earth-5555, a dimension localised to the 82nd century. First appearing in Dragon's Claws, it often featured in stories which also featured Death's Head and his encounters with other Doctor Who characters.

At the end of the DWM 135 comic story The Crossroads of Time, the Seventh Doctor ejected Death's Head from the TARDIS and sent him to Earth in 8162, Earth-5555, where he encountered Dragon's Claws. Earth-5555 then appeared in several 1988 Death's Head comic stories, two of which crossed over with Doctor Who Magazine characters. Do Not Forsake Me Oh My Darling! had Death's Head encounter Keepsake from the eponymous story featuring the Seventh Doctor, and Time Bomb! featured Josiah W. Dogbolter and Hob hire the freelance peacekeeping agent to track down the Seventh Doctor. It also appeared in several other 1988 Death's Head stories tied to the DWU upon their reprinting in The Incomplete Death's Head, due to its Doctor Who-based framing narrative. Those were Death's Head Revisited, Contractual Obligations, High Stakes, PlagueDog!, Sudden Impact!, Shot By Both Sides and Clobberin' Time!. It also made an appearance in The Deadliest Game, which was reprinted from Marvel Comics Presents #76.

A minor continuity error concerning Earth-5555 is the home reality of Josiah W. Dogbolter and Hob. The two were seen interacting with Death's Head in Time Bomb! and brought him to the Intra-Venus, Inc. headquarters while the Freelance Peacekeeping Agent was stranded in 8162. As such, Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe: Alternate Universes 2005 lists them as inhabitants of Earth-5555, though this does not necessarily mean they originated there as Death's Head is listed as well. However, Earth-5555's first official appearance was in Dragon's Claws #1 in July 1988, while Dogbolter and Hob's first appearance was in The Moderator, printed beginning in DWM 84 in December 1983. Due to Dogbolter and Hob appearing to be a part of the Doctor's universe in all other appearances, and not having yet used the Dogbolter Temporal Rocket, this remains a continuity error due to the reality numbers not being assigned until decades later. However, one possible interpretation is that Earth-5555 lies as a future of Earth-5556. [2][3]

Among Earth-5555's appearances in Marvel strips unrelated to Doctor Who were Dragon's Claws, Death's Head: The Body in Question and the 2019 Death's Head strip. It is worth noting, however, that the Doctor was mentioned obliquely in Dragon's Claws and explicitly named in The Body in Question. Keepsake's vulture from this reality also followed Death's Head's assistant Spratt into several other Marvel adventures.

Earth-8410[[edit]]

Arno Stark as Iron Man. (COMIC: The Cast Iron Contract)

Earth-8410 was the dimension home to Arno Stark, the Iron Man of 2020. All three of its Doctor Who universe appearances were in reprints from The Incomplete Death's Head.

It made a brief appearance at the conclusion of Clobberin' Time! which led into The Cast Iron Contract, wherein it made its DWU debut proper. It also appeared in Priceless!, reprinted from The Sensational She-Hulk #24.

Earth-8410 appeared extensively in other Marvel stories. It debuted in the 1984 Machine Man strip and also featured to varying degrees in Death's Head II, WildThing, Death³, Thor Corps, Death Wreck, Iron Man 2020, Wild Angels, The Avengers, Paradise X and Marvel Zombies 5.

Earth-89547[[edit]]

The Doctor meets the Sleeze Brothers. (COMIC: Follow That TARDIS!)

Earth-89547 is recorded as the reality home to the Sleeze Brothers, set sometime in the late 21st century. The Sleeze Brothers first appeared in the DWM story Follow That TARDIS!, which featured the Seventh Doctor and the First Monk, and did not explicitly present them as interdimensional travellers; the pair of private investigators subsequently received their own series of comic stories, recorded as taking place in this distinct reality by The Appendix to the Handbook of the Marvel Universe.[4] Earth-89547's relationship to the "main" DWU is unclear, though a Dalek and a Sontaran as well as Death's Head make minor appearances in the Sleeze Brothers mini-series.

Earth-333333333[[edit]]

In terms of appearances, the most prolific Marvel dimension which existed prior to its involvement with Doctor Who Magazine was Earth-333333333, also known as Earth-33⅓, home to the parodic creations of Tim Quinn and Dicky Howett. It featured in one-hundred-and-sixty-one instalments of Doctor Who? printed within DWM and in most stories in It's Bigger on the Inside!, as well as in special one-offs in publications such as Doctor Who Yearbook and Channel 33⅓.

The first instalment of Doctor Who? immediately established the place of the series within the wider universe by featuring Spider-Man, Iron Man and Captain America invading the Doctor's TARDIS and encountering the Fifth Doctor. These alternate versions of well-known Marvel characters had previously made their debuts in the Earth 33⅓ strip published in Marvel Team-Up some years prior. Doctor Who? 64 also featured Jet Lagg, an original creation of Quinn and Howett who starred in his own Jet Lagg series.

Another pre-existing character from this dimension was Mary Whitewash, a blatant caricature of Mary Whitehouse, who appeared in the DWM 103 comic story What If Doctor Who Was Produced By...?. She had previously appeared in the one-off strip The Nice Avengers, originally printed in Marvel Madhouse #8.

Additionally, Doctor Who? 191 depicted Marvel Comics bringing Doctor Who into the "Marvel Superhero Universe". A mask-wearing Fourth Doctor told Leela that "being a Time Lord [brought] with it great responsibility", quoting Spider-Man.

Ideaverse[[edit]]

The Ideaverse is a "pocket multiverse" in which all of the literary characters that inspired the Marvel Comics heroes and villains live together. Its inhabitants live in a time loop in which the tales are repeated over and over. The original versions of the four stories which make up the Tales from the TARDIS series, reprinted from Marvel Classics Comics, are held by the Marvel Database wiki to take place in the Ideaverse.

As with the designation of the original variants of Dr Who's Time Tales to Earth-616, it is unlikely the altered Doctor Who Magazine stories are set in the same dimension, although Marvel Database does not draw distinctions between the versions. As well as the lack of mention of any interdimensional travel by the Fourth Doctor, there are several substantial changes which alters the impact the stories have on the wider Doctor Who universe. For example, in War of the Worlds, the Doctor is relaying the narrative as it has been told to him by the main character George, who is revealed at its conclusion to be H. G. Wells, a twist not present in the original version. Multiple of the Doctor's incarnations were subsequently depicted encountering Wells in later media and he met the Sixth Doctor onscreen in Timelash. With all this in mind, as with Dr Who's Time Tales, the more reasonable interpretation is that Tales from the TARDIS takes place on Earth-5556, the Doctor's home dimension.

Other realities and references[[edit]]

Many Marvel characters, as well as previous Doctor Who Magazine characters and characters from non-BBC owned television series, attended Bonjaxx's birthday party, which was depicted in Party Animals and The Incomplete Death's Head. Marvel characters seen include, alphabetically, Adam Warlock, Apocalypse, Captain Britain, Captain UK, Combat Wombat, Cusick and Doot, Death's Head, Doctor Doom, Doctor Octopus, Doctor Strange, Ghost Rider, the Hulk, the Human Torch, Jester, Knave, Lucas Bishop, Namor, Guillermo Perez, Rocket Raccoon, Random, Scarlet Witch, Silver Surfer, Spider-Man, Stacy Arnheim, Tigon Liger, the Thing, Thor, Tuck, Volstagg and Warlock. As the party was held on Maruthea, located in the centre of the Time Vortex, it is impossible to tell for certain from which dimension most of them originate from.

Also in The Incomplete Death's Head, the Seventh Doctor admitted to Death's Head that he was responsible for sending him to "the robot universe" in order to shape his future. Although not mentioned explicitly due to licencing issues, the universe referred to was Earth-120185, the setting of the Transformers (UK) strip.

Other references[[edit]]

In the backup story of Doctor Strange, Sorcerer Supreme Vol 1 21 written by Jean-Marc Lofficier, Doctor Strange gives a tour of the Marvel Multiverse which uses the term "Charged Vacuum Emboitement" to describe the many "warps" connecting the Dark Dimension to adjacent pocket universes.

In All-New, All-Different Avengers #6, published in 2016, Miles Morales mentions Doctor Who to Thor as an example in explaining how leaving the second Mjolnir will be found by future-Captain America and future-Thor, using the phrase "timey-wimey stuff".

Behind-the-scenes connections[[edit]]

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Please help by adding some more information.

Marvel's designation for "the real world" is Earth-1218; the Doctor from Earth-333333333 occasionally broke the fourth wall to interact with Earth-1218 and a parallel universe closely resembling "the real world" was visited by the Eighth Doctor in TV Action!. Outside of the tenuous narrative ties, many individuals who have been credited on Doctor Who stories have also been significantly involved with Marvel Comics outside of its role as a publisher of Who products.

Stan Lee, the former Publisher, Editor-in-Chief, President, and Chairman of Marvel Comics, wrote and edited many of the stories reprinted as part of Dr Who's Time Tales.

Alan Moore, writer of the Black Sun War arc of stories further tying the DWU to the Marvel Multiverse via the Special Executive, is generally regarded as the creator of "Earth-616" and similar numerical terminology used for Marvel universes, although co-writer Dave Thorpe also has been credited.

In 1991, a crossover featuring Doctor Strange titled The Two Doctors, was proposed by Andrew Cartmel to DWM editor John Freeman, but Marvel US editor-in-chief Tom DeFalco thought there was not enough public interest in Doctor Who after the 1989 cancellation to warrant the story.

An acknowledgement of Doctor Who as a TV series existing within the Marvel Cinematic Universe[nb 1] was a possibility during pre-production of Captain America: The Winter Soldier when the Radio Times held a contest to have a British TV series included on a "culture catch-up" list Steve Rogers reads during a scene (as a gimmick, a different list would be shown in different parts of the world). Doctor Who was included as an option, but RT readers chose Sherlock (both of whose stars went on to major roles in the MCU, most notably Benedict Cumberbatch as Dr. Strange). Several references to Doctor Who were made in the television series Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D..

There are many overlaps between Doctor Who universe and Marvel Cinematic Universe cast. Actors from the DWU who appear in multiple series in the MCU universe include Cumberbatch as Doctor Strange, Karen Gillan as Nebula, Jenny Agutter as Councilwoman Hawley, Gemma Chan as Minn-erva and Sersi, Hayley Atwell as Peggy Carter, and Letitia Wright as Shuri. Actors from both the DWU and the Captain America series include Jenna Coleman, Richard Armitage, Alan Dale, David Bradley, and Toby Jones. Ninth Doctor actor Christopher Eccleston played Malekith in Thor: The Dark World. Actors from both the DWU and the Loki streaming series include Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Richard E Grant. Actors from both the DWU and the Spider-Man series include Andrew Garfield. Actors from both the DWU and the Captain Marvel series include Zawe Ashton.

Directors of episodes of Marvel's Netflix television series include DWU directors Peter Hoar, Guy Ferland, Euros Lyn, Farren Blackburn, and Rachel Talalay.

Footnotes[[edit]]

Notes[[edit]]

  1. 1.0 1.1 While the film Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, and producer Kevin Feige, also use 616 to describe the primary timeline of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, a shared universe of theatrical films primarily produced by Feige that began in 2008, other sources, including the film Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, use the designation Earth-199999.

Citations[[edit]]

  1. Doctor Who and the Genesis of Alan Moore by Lance Parkin. Retrieved on 28 May 2019.
  2. "Earth-8162 -where does it fit?" at The Appendix to the Handbook of the Marvel Universe
  3. "Is Earth 8162 A.D. Marvel universe or Doctor universe?" at The Appendix to the Handbook of the Marvel Universe
  4. http://www.marvunapp.com/master/earthteaz.htm