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Crisis In Hypertime Zero Strikes Again:
Tracking the Continuity Shattering Events of DC, part 3
Part 1, Part 2

note: These articles are dedicated to frequent forum reader GreyNite1, who loves comics but came late to the party and thus knows very little about them. Yet we suspect that there's a lot of GreyNites out there, so we provide this as a public service to our readers.

The Big Three ...and the Big Old Three...
In a "fifth-week" event called New Year's Evil, DC focused a book on Gog, a villain that had appeared in Kingdom Come. The boy who would become Gog lost his family in the destruction of Kansas, and to compensate, the mystical Quintessence (The Phantom Stranger, Shazam, Highfather, Zeus and Ganthet) grant him powers.

Does Gog use those powers for good? Noooooo. If he did, we wouldn't have The Kingdom. Instead, he kills Superman in retribution for the destruction of Kansas, which in his mind occurred because Superman wasn't there to stop it. Then he goes back in time by one day and kills Superman again. And again the day before that, and so on and so on until the afterlife is crowded with Supermen, each a day younger than the one before.

Naturally, this drives the Linear Men bonkers. Gog also steals the infant son of Superman and Wonder Woman, with the intent of raising him to be the evil Magog.

Meanwhile, the book starts with a side story that would have upset the Linear Men even further had they known about it. A suspiciously older Superman with a less-recognizable "S" symbol pounds against an invisible barrier (later, that character would show up in the pages of Jeph Loeb's Superman/Batman). His struggle bookends the event, ending with a literal wink that every Fanboy knew meant that the Superman of Earth-2 (for this is he) would one day make a return.

So reality seems to be falling apart. In the days after the events of Kingdom Come, the children of familiar heroes band together to travel back in time, and thus firmly established continuity, to prevent Gog from killing Superman in our present day and hurrying along the destruction of Kansas.

Among those children was the son of Bruce Wayne and Talia al'Ghul, who had appeared in Mike W. Barr's graphic novel Son of the Demon as a baby - a story that none other than Mark Waid had referenced since its publication. Waid also created Offspring, the son of Plastic Man who later appeared as a child in JLA when Joe Kelly took over the book. Then came Kid Flash, the daughter of Wally West, whose existence has teased fans for years. First she was about to be born, then she wasn't, then her mother was in continuity then she wasn't. Oh, the fun DC editors have had.

One of the key issues of The Kingdom was Planet Krypton, with art by Barry Kitson, focusing on the Metropolis-based theme restaurant owned by Booster Gold. Ghostly alternate versions of heroes and villains had begun haunting the place as Gog got closer to achieving his goals. In one key panel, Batman faced a vision of Kathy Kane, the pre-Crisis Batwoman, and for an instant dimly remembered her.

As a result of possible futures clashing with our established present, the trinity of Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman saw tomorrow, but also saw all of the todays. A shadowy figure had lurked at the edge of things with Matthew Ryder, a non-powered version of Waverider from Armageddon 2001. Together they stepped forward, revealing the unknown character to be the adult son of Superman and Wonder Woman - maybe.

What they revealed to the Big Three was the secret of Hypertime, something that apparently Matthew Ryder had known about all along and was keeping from his fellow Linear Men. All stories happened, as realities danced alongside each other, occasionally overlapping. Sometimes people remembered them, sometimes they didn't; all that mattered (in a metafictional way) was whether or not readers remembered and treasured them.

Basically, anything that anybody wanted to count as in continuity did. Perhaps that was too pedantic a concept; Grant Morrison and Mark Waid were just really looking for a way for fandom to quietly remove the continuity sticks from their fanasses and just enjoy the stories.

Despite opening the door to limitless possibilities, Kingdom left Hypertime a closely guarded secret, and it's only been referenced a couple of times since. The most notable run of Hypertime stories occurred in Superboy, as Kon-El bounced through a series of realities. Only appropriate, as he had also once been recast in the role of Jack Kirby's Kamandi in a strange effort to bring that alternate future into line with continuity.

And so we reach Infinite Crisis. In the years between, a few storylines blurred the things we thought we knew. Once again, Mark Waid was in the middle of it, with Superman: Birthright, a twelve-issue mini-series explaining how Clark Kent assumed the persona of Superman and just why Lex Luthor hated him so much.

The series outraged some fans, since it flatly contradicted things established by John Byrne in the post-Crisis reboot, but it also tried to reconcile the things the general public thought they knew from movies and Smallville about how the mythos worked.

Half-way through the series, DC leaked word that yes, it was canon. Lex Luthor had never been an older, portlier businessman, though he was still a major public figure, scientific wizard and corporate baron. He and Clark Kent had once again been boyhood friends, and Waid even had a good explanation for how Luthor could claim not to remember Kent.

This wasn't getting chalked up to Hypertime.

Even more cracks have shown up in continuity, and most of them, if not all, by design. For at least a year, Lex Luthor had a split personality. In Superman/Batman, Luthor went practically insane and donned battle armor, threatening the title characters that "…a crisis is coming." But elsewhere, Luthor remained suave in a black business suit, never losing his cool.

Over in JSA, the veteran heroes faced time-travelling Per Degaton, who made cryptic remarks about characters being retconned out of existence. Clearly, he remembered something that we previously believed no characters other than the Psycho Pirate did. Then when the JSA returned to the present day, they encountered a timestorm in 1985 - the year Crisis on Infinite Earths was published.

The multiple-origined Power Girl, a child of Earth-2, split into multiple versions in one panel, seeding a clue that has paid off.

By now you've checked out the last pages of several DC books before "One Year Later" and seen that multiple versions of each hero appear with no explanation. Even before this happens, the seams have begun bursting.

Byrned again.
In Nightwing #117, Dick Grayson references Lex Luthor's cancer, something that happened to the fat businessman and led to the creation of "Lex Luthor, Jr." Over in Teen Titans, Beast Boy encounters the Doom Patrol, a group reintroduced last year as if they had never existed, thus messing up one of Mark Waid's retcons of the Justice League, in which the Doom Patrol had been integral to their formation.

Beast Boy remembers Patrol member Rita Farr as his adoptive mother, who died saving a small fishing village. Yet he also has no idea who she is.

DC Editor Paul Levitz has at least fixed one little glitch in this week's JSA, tying the bookends of Kingdom together with our first glimpse of the Crisis exiles in Infinite Crisis. Then he opens yet another tear with, of all characters, the Golden Age Red Tornado, Ma Hunkel.

This month's Superman books will also feature the Supermen living out each other's continuity, and there's bound to be confusion over that.

Where is it all going? To what Mark Waid and Grant Morrison intended with Hypertime …that maybe, just maybe, we can relax and just enjoy the stories.

So far so good.

Derek McCaw

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