In creating a campaign for Green Ronin's DC Adventure RPG, part of my initial design process was to determine which characters exist (or don't) on my personal infinite earth.
Going with my own belief that DC's strongest asset is its wealth of stories and characters that cover 75 years of publishing, I want as much of what they have developed to be available in my game as possible. I want the possibility of using virtually any location, setting, device, hero or villain ever.
Unfortunately, that does present some problems. DC currently has more than one Flash. Actually, they have three. That's not three characters with superspeed, that's three separate characters all called The Flash. Two of the three wear virtually the same costume. That's kind of silly. So how do I fix this odd situation? Simple (you hear that DC? I said simple...).
For the most part Earth Alpha D-1, as I have designated my campaign world, is identical to the universe any current DC reader is familiar with. Clark Kent is Superman, Bruce Wayne is Batman and Princess Diana of Themyscira is Wonder Woman. All appear to be in their mid-thirties. The Justice League is the world's primary superhero team, Lex Luthor owns LexCorp, the Rocket Reds protect Russia and Joker is nuttier than a PayDay candy bar.
But who is the Flash? Who is Green Lantern? Who's dead?
The answers are: Three people, seven thousand, two hundred people and very few people.
Let's start with the fastest man alive, shall we? Since Infinite Crisis and Flash: Rebirth returned the silver age Flash, aka Barry Allen, to the world of the living following his awesome death in Crisis on Infinite Earths, Barry has become the title character of the Flash comic book. Unfortunately, this has put the former Kid Flash, Wally West, who has worn the mantle of the Flash since the 80's, on the back burner. In the span of less than a year Wally West went from a major, A-List superhero who appeared on the animated Justice League Unlimited series to a barely discussed B-Lister. Boo DC. Bad form.
So, on Earth Alpha D-1, Wally West is the Flash and serves as a member of the Justice League of America. The reborn Barry Allen teaches Criminology and Forensics at the Justice League Academy facility which houses Operation: Young Justice, a training program for future superheroes and the focus of our campaign. The members of our version of Young Justice are too old to be 'teen' Titans and yet not quite ready for the JLA.
The third Flash is the golden age Flash of World War II, Jay Garrick, who thanks to a mystical time displacement incident currently operates as a mentor and trainer for members of the Justice Society of America.
On to my personal favorite superhero, Green Lantern!
There are thousands of Green Lanterns, two for every one of the 3,600 space sectors of our galaxy. So, Earth's emerald guardians are John Stewart who serves on the Justice League and mainly protects the Earth and Hal Jordan who is more mobile and tends to fly around our sector looking for trouble. Since its been established that Hal is a bit of a maverick and doesn't always get along well with authority in general (and JLA shot-caller Batman in particular), this just seemed logical.
Right now I'm not writing off anyone as definitely dead...except maybe Deadman. For the most part I'll cross that bridge when I come to it. For now, everyone and everything exists. How they exist and where is much more fun to think about than whether they do or don't.