Sunday, September 22, 2013


You may note that during my Captain Britain reviews, I never use the term, "Earth 616". The reason is simple -- I hate it.

"Earth 616" is the designation that was given during the Dave Thorpe/Alan Moore Captain Britain stories to the Earth where the "real" Marvel Universe resides. I believe Moore has alternately taken credit for the number and said that Thorpe coined it. To my recollection, I don't recall it appearing in a Thorpe story, but it's possible I'm wrong. At any rate, I really feel that if it weren't for its association, deserved or otherwise, with Alan Moore, "616" would not see nearly as much use as it does.

But the point is, the term bothers me because it just sounds silly -- I (figuratively) roll my eyes when I see or hear someone refer to the "main" Marvel Earth as "Earth 616," "616," or, stupidest of all to my ear, "the 616." Just call it the Marvel Universe! No one will stop and ask you if you mean Earth 12, Earth 457, or Earth 8532. I promise we all know exactly which Earth you're talking about. Trust me.

Even if fandom doesn't necessarily agree with my above sentiment, I'm gratified that Marvel does. I've said before that I have little use for modern Marvel, but one area where we see eye-to-eye is the stupidity of "616". Several of Marvel's editors, from Joe Quesada on down, have stated their distaste for the term, as well as their confusion as to why anyone would even want to use it.

So: sorry if I've offended anyone who uses the number. This is only my personal opinion. You will never see the term "616" used on this blog beyond this post. And yet somehow, even without that indicator, you will still know which universe I'm referring to at any given time.


  1. Heh. I love the 616 designation, and remember rankling at Quesada and company's stance against, since it seemed like part of their concerted effort to make sure all their comics were "kewl" and "edgy" and "taken seriously" and devoid of fun and all the neat interconnected universe sharing stuff I love in comics.

    Granted, part of it is just that I'm pedantic enough to enjoy labeling this kind of stuff, but I also like the novelty that the "main" universe in which so many of our stories are set is just the six hundred and sixteenth such universe in the multiverse (as opposed to DC, which, depending on when you're talking, somewhat arrogantly assumes all the stories we care about take place on the first or second Earth).

    But at the end of the day, I don't really care all that much whether it gets used. It's definitely something that can seem off-putting to new readers, and as you say, it isn't necessary to understanding in which universe certain stories take place (though I do like that it makes the distinction between the Marvel Universe in which the "main" versions of characters hang out and the Marvel Universe, the universe which encompasses all the various timelines and alternate realities and whatnot featuring all the different versions of those characters). To me, it's a neat little wink at the geekier, more hardcore fans: not necessary to know, but a little extra fun if you do.

  2. Hmm, I guess I should've clarified in my rant -- I have no real problem with the term within the stories. I agree that rather than the main Earth being Earth-1 or Earth Prime or something, the fact that it's just another random Earth out of thousands is pretty funny. I just personally think it's silly to use the term "616" in casual conversation.

    But, to each their own. I hold nothing against anyone who uses it. I just prefer not to.

    (And now, I will ban you from this blog.)