I've found conflicting sources over who initiated the idea of Marvel's Multiverse having numbered universes.

Some say Alan Moore's Captain Britain was the first to use Earth-616, whereas others indicate it was fan-created from Fanzines: with Mark Gruenwald's Omniverse being the frontrunner.

Who is responsible for creating the universe designations? Is there any credible information on their development?

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    Don't let Alan Moore know you mentioned him! Commented Jun 23, 2014 at 11:20
  • related: scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/56954/…
    – alexwlchan
    Commented Jun 23, 2014 at 11:28
  • Are you asking who was the first to establish alternate realities (as the linked question answers), or the first to number them and treat them as stable continuities? Commented Jun 23, 2014 at 11:34
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    Thanks Alex, I'm looking for the earliest use of their Numerical Designations though.. who 'invented' the idea of Earth-616, Earth-929 etc. Commented Jun 23, 2014 at 11:34
  • Do you have a reference for the Fanzine origin? I've only ever seen the Alan Moore / Alan Davis / Dave Thorpe version of the origin. Commented Jun 23, 2014 at 12:03

1 Answer 1


It seems that Alan Moore came up with 616 for the main Marvel Universe. Whether he pioneered the concept entirely is less clear.

This extract from The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe vol 2 explains why 616 was chosen for the main Marvel Universe:

Numerous theories as to why that specific number was chosen have proliferated across the net since then, ascribing various hidden meanings to it; however we recently asked his daughter Leah Moore and her partner John Reppion if they could ask Alan and solve the mystery once and for all, which they graciously did. The response: 616 “was just a random number of no significance chosen because people always seemed to be talking about ‘Earth 2’ or ‘Earth 4’ but never any higher numbers.

This suggests that somebody else invented the numbering system before him. But there’s no detail on where he saw these other numberings: it could have been another comic artist, a fanzine, or an entirely different comic universe.

I would guess that he probably wasn’t the first to use numbers to distinguish universes in the Marvel canon, but I also don’t know who did, either.

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    I have no source for this, but someone once told me that it was a reaction to DC. The idea was that DC's main continuity was commonly referred to as Earth 1, but Marvel (apparently Alan Moore, specifically) didn't want their main universe to be "special," it was just one of many in the Marvel multiverse, so they picked a super-random number to indicate that.
    – Nerrolken
    Commented Oct 13, 2014 at 19:21
  • This makes sense; there is nothing in the Handbook answer to suggest Moore had Marvel metaverse specifically in mind as opposed to some personal familiarity with DC multiverse. Commented Dec 17, 2021 at 13:50

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