Who’s Who In The DCU 1.21.04

Ok so I just got in from the annual Holiday/Another Year in Business Party. It’s like 3:30am and believe me when I tell you that Vegas is a party town. I decided to call it a night and get back here to do the column, because I love you guys that much. Oh yeah and B’s back from his trip Across the Pond (what up Phil!)B, fill everyone in about your trip. (I’m still on England time, M…and by England time, I mean not sleeping and drinking a lot! I had a grand old time, I love the motherland and probably would not have come back except for my dedication to this award-winning column. What award did we win? Um…a really prestigious British one…and what a party was thrown in our honor! You shoulda been there, M. –B)

Gee, that sounds like a blast. Well I’m tired so let’s jump into the column.

Now since I’m sleepy I’ve decided to tackle one of the most difficult emails I’ve ever received. JohnBritton posts deep questions that require lots of thought on the message boards. John Babos post questions that require a lot of research. Mike Z and Shivkala bombard me with numerous questions at once. And Hallsy is always good for a brainteaser. But Juan Francisco Gutierrez Santiago sent me an insanely complex, dense email. One so dense that I couldn’t dissect it and disperse it through many column. One so massive that I would have to devote an entire column to it. So with no further built up welcome to the column that I had to call Time Travel in the DCU 101.

Your column is great. I have discovered it by mere luck. You cleared me some questions that I didn’t know I had. But to the point. I have some questions about the linear men. I recently read The Kingdom and noticed
that Hunter played a big role on it. Wasn’t Hunter supposed to be the
most strict in the time and participation rules? Then what is it about
him in “The Kingdom” where he is the one that participates (even without the knowledge of his partners), totally opposed to when he destroyed the moon in a Superman number just to make sure that time followed the correct timeline. Is this a future hunter or what? Because If I’m right, he was the same that put Superman on trial after the Imperiex affair, and that was some months after The Kingdom.

First off the Linear Man that you are thinking of is Travis O’Connell. He showed up in Metropolis to fix the time anomaly that is Booster Gold in Adventures of Superman #476. Superman ended up bouncing around the time stream in Action Comics #663-665 Adventures of Superman #476-478 and Superman #54-55 (this was in the “triangle” era.) The story culminated in Adventures of Superman #478 with Travis blowing up himself and the moon in the 30th century, an act that had dire consequences in Legion #19. I actually only read the Adventures issue, because they featured the Legion, but that part of the storyline was great. B, did you ever read this story? (Nope. That was during my comics hiatus, and even an ever-growing love for the Legion has never compelled me to go back and grab the storyline you’re referring to, called, I believe, “Time and Time Again”…ha…everybody knows the true “Time and Time Again” was the New Warriors epic battle against the Sphinx that culminated in the fiftieth issue of volume 1…but I digress…-B)

As to Hunter being a strict Linear Man, I gotta disagree. Hunter is Rip Hunter and his character has never been a guy who follows rules. Back in the “Time Masters” mini series he went back in time to try to kill Vandal Savage before he had the chance to become immortal. Hunter has a soft spot in his heart for heroes. (But yet Juan is correct in pointing out that Hunter was the chief Linear Man going after Supes following his altering of time in the Imperiex war. Rip Hunter has had so many incarnations and portrayals through the years, it’s tough to know which you’re dealing with. A great site for info on all of them is Vanishing Point

I’m kind of a fan of Waverider so I also have some questions about him.
Last I heard he was the one that helped the most. And suddenly he is the one that is not in The Kingdom. What happened? In the same number where Superman was put into trial, he was present in the form of a brain as well as the others, because they supposedly have lost their bodies from time travel trauma. But how is this possible for Waverider since he is an energy being that has had his body “destroyed” in Superman-Doomsday/Hunter-prey and was able to reform itself after an explosion many times stronger than a nuclear one? Even more, What was Ryder doing in The Kingdom and in Superman MOS 118? Wasn’t he supposed to be the new Waverider since the original one died at the hands of Extant? Is this another Ryder from another timeline? Is there a comic where this is explained? And since I mentioned Extant, I might as well ask about him. I think you mentioned him in some column ago. When he “died” in a JSA number he left a body and, as you mentioned, he couldn’t since he was an energy being. I think you also mentioned a number of Impulse where he was defeated which was the last comic prior to JSA where he appeared. Could you give some more details about this comic?

First things first, I have no idea why Waverider wasn’t in Kingdom. It may have been because he had pretty meaty roles in the Armageddon titles. Perhaps the writer just had a soft spot in his heart for Hunter. Can’t say for sure. B, you got a good theory? (None except that Mark Waid may not have liked him. –B)

Now about that trial. In Man of Steel #118 the disembodied brains of Hunter, Waverider and Matt Ryder put Superman on trial. The Quintessence will decide the fate of Superman. Not only does the Quintessence find in favor of Superman, they find Hunter, Ryder and Waverider to be insane and the brains disappear into a vortex.

As for that physical trauma in Superman #165 those three Linear Men are seen being disintegrated. So that could be the cause of it. I’ll get more into the trauma thing later.

I don’t think Waverider died when Extant took his chronal energies. I’m pretty sure that in Zero Hour Waverider didn’t actually die. The Waverider has always been the Matt Ryder from the Armageddon 2001 storyline (isn’t that crazy? A storyline set ten years in the future is actually 3 years in our past) (Waverider was in fact “reborn” during Zero Hour using a Matt Ryder from another timeline. Technically, the last Waverider we saw was a second one. It was never explicitly stated, however, that the Ryder used to make the new Waverider was the Ryder who had made previous appearances as a Linear Man…and since the two have appeared alongside one another, we can more or less ascertain it was not. However, Waverider II acts as if he has all the memories and experiences of the original…headache. –B)

“Impulse: Bart Saves the Universe” is a fun story. It involves a time anomaly in the past that affects the present pretty drastically, so much so that there are no heroes, except Bart. Bart has to deal with death, meet his Grandpa, and take down Extant, single-handedly. It’s written by Christopher Priest (better known as just Priest) with art by Jason Johnson and Edwin Rosell. I recall reading somewhere that Priest was so dissatisfied with the finished product (apparently it was edited heavily) that he wanted his name taken off the book. But I enjoyed it nonetheless. Plus since Bart is now Kid Flash, this book is a nice glimpse back to when Bart was fun. B, remember when Bart was fun? (The new Kid Flash: one of the few blemishes on the bright spot that is Teen Titans. –B)

Now the questions about time travel. The Linear Men mentioned in a Superman number from the 80’s I think, that it wasn’t possible to travel through time more than once and Superman was able to do it because of his physiology and that’s why they needed the cybernetic parts. Now, Kyle Rayner has traveled through time many times without the aid of his ring (Zero Hour, DC one million, GL 97, 99, 100, 106, JLA 11, 12, 15, 68, and I don’t know if some others). I’m not sure, but I think the trauma stuff was when traveling through time using the same method more than once, which was the reason why Booster Gold couldn’t travel back to his century. Kyle has done it in many comics twice without a single scratch. Now it can be argued that he has a ring which protects him from harm. However, Nightwing also traveled through time more than once using the same method in Zero Hour and in JLA 75, and he is a “normal human being”. But let’s go no further. In his own series Hourman (the android) traveled through time many times with his friends (common people) without them having damage, and they did use the same method to travel through time. Even if it was needed, why the Linear Men haven’t developed a protection for time travel as the Legion. Some months ago I asked at the DC boards about these things and I got that the problem with time travel was an editorial policy trying to get away from weekly time travels that were the common rule in the silver age, and it was no longer necessary in these days. Then why do they bother in Superman MOS 118 on explaining the time travel trauma since the trips of Hourman where prior to that number? I think is safe to say that only the time travel technology used by the Linear Men (except Waverider) is dangerous since Metron, Hourman, Time Trapper, Parallax, Zatanna and Waverider among others have made safe trips for other non-superhuman people. So the main questions is: was it really an editorial policy back in the 80’s which more or less banned time travel and which is now no longer strict? What was the last appearance of the Linear Men?

Hmm, where to start? Ok back after Crisis, DC put a hold on time travel. As crazy as it sounds, in the initial Post Crisis DCU the past was not set in stone. See the Crisis had solved the multiple Earth problem, but there were still a lot of other things that needed to be straightened out. So in an effort to keep things simple very few folks were allowed to travel in time. This way, by keeping tight control on time travel, hopefully the DCU would remain a simple place for new readers to visit.

Superman wasn’t really powerful enough to travel in time any more and he had just been rebooted so he didn’t need to travel in time. The Green Lantern Corps were basically based on Earth so again no real reason to travel in time. But a couple of books did the time travel thing.

The first was Booster Gold, but that was just because it was the premise of his book. He had to come from the future. He did visit his natural present for a moment, with the help of Rip Hunter, but that was it. The Legion also traveled back in time, but it wasn’t to the past that they had remembered or visited before. It was to the present DCU. Of course this was the Post Crisis Legion that was still the Pre Crisis Legion. Anyway they only traveled back once. Both of these happened in the 80’s.

In the 90’s the “Time Masters” miniseries starring Rip Hunter, elaborated on the restrictions of time travel. Apparently you couldn’t use the same method of time travel twice. So if you went to the past using one method, you had to use a different method to return to the present. This furthered the restrictions on time travel. This is also where Rip Hunter attempted to kill Vandal Savage, to interesting results. Anyway the law was Time Travel was hard to do.

It has since gotten easier. You point out numerous examples. Yes, an editorial change is responsible for change in Time Travel laws. I suppose that the Powers That Be felt that it was now safe to jump around the time stream whenever writers wanted.

As to the trauma, in the aforementioned Superman storyline it explains how hard traveling through time is, and I have to admit I like the idea of the trauma associated with time travel. I’ll offer some theories about how time travel works for characters, and how it could still work with the traumatic experience idea.

Green Lantern- I completely buy the “ring protects him” line of logic.

Nightwing- I don’t have the JLA issue, but he also traveled through time in his “Our World’s At War” one shot. I’ll pretend that it was because he was using a vehicle for time travel and that protected him. (Also, in JLA, he used mystical means for time travel, whereas his other trips have been done using technology. –B)

Hourman- C’mon he’s from thousand’s of years in the future. Of course they have perfected time travel by then. They also don’t burn toast or microwave pop corn. And on their pizzas the toppings are evenly distributed. And when you go to their Taco Bell, they never leave anything out of your order. I’m telling you Hourman’s present is an amazing place.

As for the Linear Men here is my theory; time travel is like playing a record on a record player. Playing the record straight through is like just living your life normally. Skipping to a song that you want to hear is like taking a trip to the past or future; it’s cool, but the more often you do it the more damage you might inflict on the record (your body.) Now doing what the Linear Men do, occasionally stopping time, taking frequent trips through time, is like scratching the record; sure it may sound cool and impress people, but you are definitely going to damage your record (your body.) How was that B? (That was just…whoa. –B)

The Linear Men last appeared in Man of Steel #118. That is probably going to be their last appearance for a minute, until someone can find a way to make them cool again. But Liri Lee, the lone female Linear (wo)man was posing as Lex Luthor’s nanny, so they could pop up again. Do you think they should come back B? (Never developed a particular affinity for them. They reminded me too much of nagging in-laws who only showed up when you did something wrong…or Daron…-B)

And as an extra question. In Green Lantern Secret Files 2, it is mentioned that Hal’s ring has that ability to time travel. Has he or anyone with the old ring used that ability? Let’s forget now the time travel stuff. Could you tell me which are the best comics of Guy Gardner? I remember seeing him some years ago being a total jerk, acting before thinking, and in Action comics 790 still having an attitude but being able to make complicated plans. I would like to know the great changes that he has passed. I know he was a boring a character before entering in a coma. I also know that after the death of Ice he changed as well. I liked the character, always liked it since his appearances in Superman titles, from Panic in the Sky, to Action comics 790 and also his appearances in Green Lantern (since Kyle Rayner era). Also another questions. Which is the best Gardner so far: Green Lantern, Yellow ring or Vuldarian-warrior? I personally like a lot the attitude from vuldarian-Warrior, but I liked more his other powers as a ring bearer. Now that I mention Gardner, I’d like to know also the whereabouts of his “brothers”. I remember Militia Gardner Being killed by Major Force in a GL number. I also remember seeing him in Birds of prey some years after his “death”. When did he return, in which comic? or he wasn’t really dead, was he? And where is he right now? His clone also appeared in BOP and I saw him for the last time in Joker Last Laugh. Has he made another appearance?

Hal has traveled in time using his ring. It is common knowledge that in the Silver Age time travel was a pretty easy thing to do. Hal had numerous villains the he encountered from a distant future. Unfortunately I can’t name anyone right off the top of my head, but they are pretty much one note villains that even Geoff Johns wouldn’t touch with a ten foot pole.

Good Guy Gardner book? Isn’t that an oxymoronic statement? So now that you have my anti Guy Gardner bias out of the way I will give you a rundown of some of my favorite books with Guy Gardner. Green Lantern #193-200 I really enjoyed, and Guy Gardner appeared in those issues, so I can recommend those. In those issues Guy is pretty much portrayed as a loose cannon, a wild card. But again that was one of my favorite runs on Green Lantern.

Green Lantern Corps #207-210 were also some good reads (although Guy doesn’t appear in #208.) But it’s kind of a dated read as it deals with the Cold War, but at the time it was a great story to read.

Pick up any issue of Justice League. That late 80’s book was so much fun to read. If you enjoyed “Formerly Known as Justice League” then reading those old issue will be a blast, and Guy definitely has his moments in that book.

I liked “Panic in the Sky” was good, as was Action Comics #688 where Guy battles the Eradicator. But that’s it for me. I didn’t get into Guy Gardner: Warrior. Clearly I enjoyed Guy Gardner as a Green Lantern the best. B, you got any other good Guy Gardner appearances? (I’ve mentioned before that I was a big Guy Gardner: Warrior fan…I’ll ignore M’s previous statements as it is our wacky opposing personalities that make this column marketable. As for GG: W the series, the first ten or so issues are hilarious, then it gets crappy for awhile, then post-Zero Hour until the end is good. The early stuff was truly unique, a super-hero who wasn’t a villain, but was a jerk, but you couldn’t help but love the guy; he was only doing what most of us would do if we had his power. The later issues are a pretty touching saga about a guy who has blown every chance he’s been handed recognizing his shortcomings and just wanting to do the right thing; good stuff. –B)

Ok, Joe Gardner is Guy’s clone from when Guy Gardner was kidnapped by aliens (isn’t that always the case) in Guy Gardner #11. He actually impersonated Guy for a few months on in the JLA. He was eventually found out. He did indeed turn up in Birds of Prey #10-11 with a nifty new power glove that worked like Sinestro’s ring. He got that nifty device from Neron, in exchange for his soul. He was held in the Slab, but since the Outsiders freed everyone prisoner from the Slab, I’m guessing that he’s a free man now. I haven’t seen him yet, but I’d imagine it’s just a matter of time. Don’t you think B? (I don’t see it happening any sooner than the return of that column we had for a week on British comics, but fun fact: his villain name was Enforcer. –B)

Mace Gardner is Guy Gardner’s older brother. He was a dirty cop, who got shot and paralyzed. Then he joined a government project (isn’t that always the case) that faked his death. They gave him a nifty suit that restored his mobility. He was then Militia. He and Guy duked it out a couple of times before Mace was apparently killed by Major Force. But Mace somehow survived. He also turned up in Birds of Prey (apparently the title where Gardners make their grand return to the DCU), but in #24. He will probably be the “ace” up somebody’s sleeve in the future.

Well I’m supremely tired. It is now much later and the sun is due to rise. I’m going to call it a column, and rest for a week. But that doesn’t mean that you should. Send me you questions. I promise that new week won’t be devoted to a single person, but as you can see I had no choice in the matter this week. As for your question of the week; Do you think Hal Jordan should become Green Lantern again, and if so, how?

“Make sure to keep you hair spotless and clean. Wash it at least every two weeks. Once every two weeks!”

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