Sci-Ence! Justice Leak!

The Kingdom (and Crisis) – Hyperpost 3

Posted in comics by Andrew Hickey on August 26, 2009

A revised and improved version of this essay is in my book Sci-Ence! Justice Leak! – hardback, paperback, PDF Kindle (US), Kindle (UK), all other ebook formats

The Linear Men are wrong - from The Kingdom #2 by Mark Waid, John Zeck and Mike Beatty

The Linear Men are wrong - from The Kingdom #2 by Mark Waid, John Zeck and Mike Beatty

Some of the material in this post may feel a little familiar to some of you. If it does, it’s because I actually made an abortive start on this series of posts last year (or what a series of posts on these ideas would have been by me last year), inspired by Bot’swana Beast’s magnificent post on The Prismatic Age (still the best lens through which to look at the last fifteen years or so of superhero comics, to my mind), and posted about The Kingdom a little then (not linking to that post as it’s appalingly bad, partly because I was trying to say in one post what I’m saying in a minimum of seven here).

The late-90s miniseries The Kingdom, by writer Mark Waid and various artists, was absolutely slated by fans when it came out, and is not remembered fondly. This is mostly because the story was billed as a sequel to the graphic novel Kingdom Come, written by Waid and painted by Alex Ross, but shared none of that story’s ludicrously overblown nature (I’ve always thought there was a huge amount of unintentional bathos to be found in Ross’ work – he clearly wants to portray superheroes as gods, at whose feet we should tremble in awe at their sheer majesty, but what he actually produces are Norman Rockwell pastiches featuring paunchy middle-aged men sucking in their guts while dressed as Superman or Batman).

But the main reason for the hatred of the (admittedly-patchy) series was that its storyline (actually a good one, which we will come on to in a bit) existed to introduce into DC continuity a concept called Hypertime. The existence of hypertime was the big revelation at the end, and was an idea that Waid took from his friend and frequent collaborator Grant Morrison. Rather than use the explanation Waid gave in the comic, here’s Morrison’s original conception for Hypertime, as reported by Warren Ellis:

It’s one of those things that’s difficult to capture on paper if you’re not the originator, I suspect. Firstly, it wasn’t set up to explain continuity glitches. That’s not its point, as described to me. It’s…

It’s Grant trying to describe a new physics for fictional reality. And it’s time considered as a volume. a three-dimensional artifact.

My recall is flawed. We were drinking heavily. There could be crucial mistakes in the following:

Take a glass sphere studded all over with holes, and then drive a long stick right through the middle of it, passing exactly through the center of the volume. That’s the base DC timeline. Jab another stick through right next to it, but at a different angle, so that they’re touching at one point. That’s an Elseworlds story. Another stick, this one rippled, placed close in so that it touches the first stick at two or three points. That’s the base Marvel timeline. Perhaps others follow the line of the DC stick for a while before diverging, a slow diagonal collision along it before peeling off. This sphere contains the timeline of all comic-book realities, and they theoretically all have access to each other. In high time, at the top of the sphere, is OUR reality, and we can look down on the totality of Hypertime, the entire volume.

Hypertime is a tool for the consideration of fictional reality.

I think that’s what he said, anyway.

That quote courtesy of travel.to/hypertime, a site that may well be down by the time you read this, as it’s hosted on GeoCities (RIP).

Now, whether Morrison or Waid intended this to be an excuse for continuity errors (and both are talented enough writers that I think they would shudder at the thought), this was how it was taken by the ‘linear men’ among the fanbase of DC comics, who are far more concerned that the story they’re reading be what really happened than that it be any good. They decided it was just the writers looking for an excuse to be lazy.

In fact, it was the latest of a long line of attempts by Morrison to make something useful out of the aftermath of Crisis On Infinite Earths. This series (and if you haven’t read it, Matt Rossi provides probably the best summing up you could find on the subject), while a great read (as far as mid-80s superhero epics go) was probably the most thoroughly misbegotten idea in the whole of comics history. It was decided on the basis of a couple of whining Linear Men that stories about parallel universes, where two Supermen from alternate realities team up to battle a third, evil, Superman, were not great, like you thought – no, they were confusing. “We don’t know which one is which!” came the cry, “the only way to tell them apart is that one is Superman, one is old Superman with grey hair, and one is evil and tries to blow up the world! How can you possibly then know which is the real Superman?!”

Now, rather than explain to these strange people that in fact generations of eight-year-olds had grown up perfectly able to understand these stories, DC decided to kowtow to their demands and spend a year’s worth of stories destroying every parallel world in all their stories, restarting the one universe that was left from scratch, and making sure the new one was consistent (for five minutes til someone cocked up, anyway). They also got rid of Bat-Mite, Comet The Super-Horse, Wonder Woman’s Invisible Plane, Aqualad, The Bottle City Of Kandor and many other things, on the grounds that they were far too silly to continue appearing in their stories about superheroes.

Morrison, much like myself, seems to think this was vandalism of the highest order, and has repeatedly tried to ‘undo’ bits of the damage Crisis wrought. His Animal Man would have been impossible without Crisis, being at least in part a comment on it (and I may have to do a post on Animal Man as part of this series, thinking about it…), his JLA: Earth 2 brought back one of the parallel earths that the Crisis had destroyed, and in 52 he and Waid (and their co-writers Geoff Johns and Greg Rucka) finally brought back a whole multiverse much like the one that had been destroyed.

But Hypertime (which never really got adopted by DC writers other than Waid, apart from one not-much-good Superboy story) is much more than bringing back the multiverse in disguise, it’s a great big one-and-a-half fingers (in deference to its transatlantic origins I’ve split the difference) up at the very idea of continuity. It’s also, once in a single story in a DC comic, absolutely embedded in that continuity – no matter how many reboots and retcons you have to get rid of it, all you have to do is say “Well, that was a different hypertimeline” and voila! Hypertime is back. (It’s the continuity-nerd equivalent of the GPL, ‘infecting’ every story any character touches – Spider-Man once met Superman? Fine – Hypertime obviously applies to Marvel ‘continuity’ too).

It’s a huge, huge help for imaginative storytelling, because by utterly getting rid of the idea of a single ‘real’ universe – even from panel to panel – it removes every restriction for the storyteller. They no longer have to worry about contradicting past or future stories – they’re all true or false on a case-by-case basis. If you’re doing a Superman story, you can bring in elements from the films, the TV shows, the radio shows, the books, the anti-smoking ads where he fights Nick O’Teen, whatever, and they all have equal validity, but what you do doesn’t tie the hands of any future creator.

All stories are true, and all are equally valid. The idea of a true continuity and ‘Elseworlds’ or parallel universes is as gone from storytelling, once Hypertime is admitted, as the idea of a privileged frame of reference is from the physical universe.

Now some people, including Matt Rossi actually, have criticised Hypertime by saying it’s all very well as a theoretical device, but it’s no good from a storytelling perspective – it’s not a usable story engine. I normally agree with Matt on these things – he’s a far more imaginative storyteller than I could ever be, after all – but it’s simply not true. Even allowing that the two plot strands of The Kingdom (supervillain goes back in time a day at a time to kill Superman over and over, and superheroes try to stop the past being changed and wiping out their present) don’t require Hypertime, plenty of plot hooks *immediately* suggest themselves:

Protagonist wakes to find everything in their life is exactly as it was, except their spouse has never existed in this universe, and no-one but them has any recollection of them. (Or better, they don’t remember them themselves, just a nagging sense of *something wrong* that they need to fix…)

Supervillain commits crimes in one hypertimeline then uses a device to bend the timestream into a timeline where they never committed the crime but still have the proceeds. (Yes, they could just do that anyway without the crime bit, but this is a supervillain we’re talking about – they always go for the non-optimal solution).

An attempted suicide who, no matter how many times he kills himself, finds himself in a hypertimeline where the attempt went wrong (because he’s no longer aware in those timelines where it succeeded), and decides the only way to kill himself is to destroy the whole wang-dang-doo-multeyeverse.

A psychic who can see the future but only of neighbouring hypertimelines, seeing disasters in which millions die preventably and being driven mad by inability to warn them.

And so on. Those aren’t necessarily *good* plotlines, but they took five minutes to come up with, from someone who’s not great at fiction – Hypertime is clearly a decent plot engine.

But is it good science?

At least a couple of people think so. Tomorrow, a look at The End Of Time by physicist Julian Barbour (also with reference to David Deutsch’s The Fabric Of Reality).

24 Responses

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  1. Andrew Ducker said, on August 26, 2009 at 11:34 pm

    Or better, they don’t remember them themselves, just a nagging sense of *something wrong* that they need to fix…
    This was an Astro City plot, I believe. For a single short story.

    An attempted suicide who, no matter how many times he kills himself, finds himself in a hypertimeline where the attempt went wrong (because he’s no longer aware in those timelines where it succeeded), and decides the only way to kill himself is to destroy the whole wang-dang-doo-multeyeverse.
    Oooh. There’s a 1950′s short (possibly an Asimov) – where someone wakes up in the afterlife, is informed by “God” that he is stuck there. The protagonist decides to find a flaw in himself and commit permanent suicide – and on discovering that God will just bring him back, states that therefore he’ll have to kill _God_. Which is of course what God wants (as being eternal is apparently no fun).

  2. pillock said, on August 27, 2009 at 10:38 am

    Hmm…as much as I approve the old Silver Age madness (I rather liked “The Kingdom”, actually…the Batman crossover I remember fondly), I think I’ll have to post something wherein I take lengthy issue with the Official Story of CoIE…and try to make it different enough from my familiar old “I loved the immediate post-Crisis era” song that it’s worth a post…but here I’ll just say that it isn’t like all those delightful Silver Age details you mention were confusing, but that they had gotten boring…which nowadays we think sounds crazy, how could they have gotten boring? Well, they did, though: the DCU lost a lot of life in the years between 1975 and 1985, and after Crisis blew it up it gained momentum again. Mind you, I do like this comics-history narrative we’ve got now, but I think it too is a bit wrapped up in the idea of canon, eh?

    More comment coming…must first decide if it wouldn’t be better to wait ’til the next post to argue with you about Hypertime, ha! I have some jokes, you see. Not actually sure any of them are funny, though.

    I’m still trying to work out just what kind of Hypertime-based story I’d like the best…I mean I don’t mind reading stories that are all about multiversal shenanigans (although I do wish DC could’ve restrained themselves from some of their multiversal-shenanigan stories…Zero Hour and Infinite Crisis come to mind…I mean seriously, what even happened in Infinite Crisis? I know, I know, 52 universes resulted, but that hardly answers the question) any more than I mind reading stories that are not about multiversal shenanigans, but I’m just trying to think of a story that would make me glad that Hypertime was there to help tell it. I suppose something I’d enjoy is seeing all the “Kingdom” crossovers duplicated from the other side of the trans-universal fence…have a bunch of Elseworlds and demolished timelines just suddenly start clumping, ’til they basically seem to share the same physical space — but don’t, of course. Crossovers without continuity, something like your All-In-One SF Universe, Andrew! A bunch of titles that cross over with each other but that clearly still take place in different “universes”…like if the DCU had never been rationalized out of the several editorial “fiefdoms” into a big interconnected place. Suppose Dan Garrett shows up in Byrne’s Anglo-Superman world, just shows up there…it would have something of the flavour of “Conneticut Yankee”, but without any time-travel conceit…

    Uh, well…maybe I’d just better sleep on that a little, maybe…and not hit the “Submit Comment” button just y…

    DAMN.

  3. Zom said, on August 27, 2009 at 10:57 am

    I fail to understand how Hypertime would hinder storytelling. The biggest objection that I can come up with off the top of my head has to do with the threat posed by dropping the weight of fictional histories. If anything is possible then nothing matters, but of course a) that’s not how things would actually work, certain details would retain canonical status and/or great significance because that’s how we all like it (hence the ‘base DC timeline’ spoken of by Ellis) and this would only change very slowly over time, and b) writers throughout history, those working outside soaps and the superhero genre, have done without the backup of absurd convoluted continuities for a very long time indeed and it didn’t do them any harm. I suppose superhero comics would look different were Hypertime fully introduced, but I struggle to see how the difference would be anything that I didn’t approve of, particularly when you take into account the fact that I tend to treat writers runs as strands of Hypertime anyway. As things which exist of themselves but that resonate and sometimes converge with other stories (and texts more generally).

    All that said, one of the biggest problems with any discussion of Hypertime, and where I resist your urge to push the discussion in small part towards physics, Andrew, is how the term seems to point in the direction of some sort of concrete theoretical basis. I tend to think of it as a signpost, a direction of travel, a statement of intent rather than as a theoretical object that’ll bear too much scrutiny, because quite clearly it *won’t*. We should be paying attention to what the concept is trying to achieve and view it as a useful *tool* rather than quibbling over the details because the details will only ever get us so far.

  4. Zom said, on August 27, 2009 at 11:31 am

    Also, don’t think we should get too caught up in the Hypertime-as-story-device conversation, in so far as said advice draws attention to Hypertime as a concept. As far as I’m concerned the best Hypertime set stories would look a lot like the best stories we already have just maybe a little freer as they wouldn’t have to contend with the burden of continuity in quite the same way that most modern stories do. All Star Superman strikes me as good example of the kind of story Hypertime would permit, although there would also be room for more and less continuity laden stories

  5. pillock said, on August 27, 2009 at 12:40 pm

    And yet, Zom, All-Star Superman didn’t need Hypertime to permit it. [Insert emoticon]

    Agreed that Hypertime could not hinder storytelling; although as I always say, I’m not sure exactly how the lack of Hypertime is hindering storytelling either. In fact I’ve never seen how saying “yes, Hypertime exists” would make any difference to any story, actual or potential, save one whose plot depended from the idea of Hypertime existing. At least, that’s as far as I can make it out in DC: the idea that continuity’s this big problem there has always seemed a bit like a myth, to me. At Marvel, on the other hand, the continuity really has become something like a room where the walls are moving in on you, I can certainly see someone over there wanting to tell a story and finding out it can’t be told, so thick and fast do the unnecessary retcons come…and complicated by people like Bendis being given free reign to shoot random holes in anything he likes without any need or desire for explanation, while everybody else has to take what he does on board somehow, along with all the other stuff it’s contradicting, that already contradicted itself anyway. Furthermore, they’ve made such an awful tangle of their alternate histories and universes etc. etc. that you can barely even make out the “main” timeline, or determine what’s supposed to be in it. Then there’s seepage from the Ultimate projects…I mean it’s sorta out of control, and yet it’s all supposed to be so rigidly rationalized…

    Hypertime would solve a lot of problems for Marvel: they’ve practically got philosophical issues to deal with. But are things that gnarled-up at DC? Hmm, maybe with the Legion…

    Finally (for this comment anyway), ordinarily I think I’d agree with you, Zom, about the merits of pursuing the “physical model” of Hypertime too far…but in this case Andrew’s set up I’m very interested to see how it might illuminate the larger subject of canons, fandom, marginality, etc. Hypertime as a model for these interactions in comics, influenced by physical/mathematical theory, is itself a pretty good topic in the larger discussion, I think.

    Nuts, that all sounds really arch and pedantic, doesn’t it? Not my intention.

  6. pillock said, on August 27, 2009 at 12:52 pm

    It’s just that I know you guys and I differ on this Hypertime business. Mind you, I’m not saying “don’t have it”! Really, it’s already in there, isn’t it? And it’s hard to see how it could hurt anything…

    Ah. Supergirl. I take it all back, Hypertime makes the new Kara Zor-El’s existence much more palatable. I really shoulda thought of that before, actually…

    Never mind! So I guess Hypertime does make a positive difference to what stories you can tell after all! At least, to what sense they make…

  7. pillock said, on August 27, 2009 at 12:58 pm

    …Oh yeah, jeez, now it’s hitting me. Supergirl got so radioactive there, once Byrne introduced his “Matrix” Supergirl it pretty much ensured the “real” Supergirl would never be seen again…so the “new” real Supergirl being there is like chewing on tinfoil, so long as she must be in a continuity relationship with the rest of the DCU and it’s history. I had clean forgotten about that.

    Hypertime handles that very neatly.

    I take forty percent of my annoyance with it back!

  8. Zom said, on August 27, 2009 at 1:44 pm

    I suppose I just see Hypertime as an alternative philosophy to monolithic continuity, and a preferable one, but as you say, Plok, it does seem to be less of a problem over at DC than at Marvel. DC has in recent years found some neat ways of telling some out of strict continuity stories – it’s proven itself time and time again to be more experimental and plastic than the competition.

    Hmmm… thinking about it the main benefit of Hypertime would be in offering continuity obsessives a route into the way that the rest of us think. In theory Hypertime legitimises narrative possibility (for the continuity obsessives) by grounding it in the physics of the fictional space, and of course that’s where the whole theoretical integrity angle comes in. It needs to be coherent for the fanboy to believe.

    Yup, I just gone and convinced myself that Hypertime was never intended for me.

    Cheers, Plok.

    • pillock said, on August 27, 2009 at 8:48 pm

      Now we should team up against our common enemy!

  9. sean witzke said, on August 27, 2009 at 7:31 pm

    I’m with Zom’s last comment here – I really don’t need a device to tell me it’s okay that Morrison’s Doom Patrol and Dark Knight Returns don’t fit into DCU crypto-history. I still think it’s kind of weird that the impulse to “fix” it, even if it’s just to say “well screw you I can convince you anything happened with this” (which Moore tried to pull in the 80s with the whole “Time Trapper” subplot in the unpublished Twilight of the Superheroes – which the Kingdom is kind of a call back to). It’s probably contrarian to point out that it’s never going to matter if it fits on a story level, and that’s all I care about. And the other way – there’s stuff that’s straight continuity porn that you can go into cold and if it work on a story level (like Rock of Ages), and it doesn’t matter. Chalk me up in the “who gives a shit” column.

    • pillock said, on August 27, 2009 at 10:22 pm

      Hey, I’m in the “who gives a shit” column too, y’know! I just have a lot of time on my hands…

  10. Kieran said, on August 27, 2009 at 9:19 pm

    It’s an excuse for something that doesn’t need excusing, yes, but it’s also a good metaphor for extended universe stories, which can be appreciated without caring whether a comic has a little “hypertime compliant” label. The Bleed and the Orrery of Worlds aren’t helpful storytelling ideas either but they are rather cool.

    • pillock said, on August 27, 2009 at 10:06 pm

      I miss Scipio’s little math-trick with the structure of the 52 universes! That would’ve made for really neat multiverse stories.

      Damn, wish I could find the link…

      • Justin Zyduck said, on August 28, 2009 at 5:18 am

        Was this it: http://absorbascon.blogspot.com/2007_07_22_archive.html
        ?

        I can’t really wrap my head around it completely, but it may just be my problem. Again, it sounds like amusing fanwank, but I have no idea how it might be used in a story.

        • pillock said, on September 6, 2009 at 10:03 pm

          Rather late on this…but one way it could be used is to make interuniversal travel easier/more difficult depending on what universe you’re in. You could travel within a ring all you liked, but you could only exit the ring through universes that connected to other rings.

  11. pillock said, on August 27, 2009 at 10:05 pm

    Just to drop down a level in this, this is how it’s always seemed to me: if there are people who don’t care about continuity at all, like a lot of the CSBG regulars say they don’t care about it at all, only about good stories…then why would they care about Hypertime either? If odds are good than within any given set of storytelling restrictions a good writer will do good work (I suppose continuity restrictions on artists are no more than “this guy looks wears glasses, no he doesn’t, yes he does”?) and a bad writer will stink out the joint…well, Hypertime can never make the bad writer a good one, can it? So on the basest level, the functionality of Hypertime seems to me to be this: to enable someone who is confronted with a continuity addict (and one of these days I think someone really should parse “continuity addict” for real, although I love the “linear men” epithet more than I can say) saying “that story’s not real because it didn’t happen in continuity”, to shoot back “yes it is, because Hypertime, nerd!” Which seems to me a rather low use. Not to mention just as nerdily involved with the idea of continuity.

    On CSBG, I remember this big argument about whether Morrison had respected continuity in his New X-Men run, specifically in making Magneto a straight-up villain again…and it seems uncomplicated to me to say that actually he did respect continuity, absolutely in line with the way he always does respect continuity when he’s working in the corporate milieu that’s basically built on it. He just (being Morrison) doesn’t draw all the lines right out to the vanishing point about it. But man, the rancour that sprang up over this question! A whole lot of “shut up, nerd”, and not very much pointing out that the business of not liking what a writer had done with a character isn’t always necessarily connected at the hip to them outraging continuity.

    (Fertile ground there for the purposes of Andrew’s Hyperpost, I think, though! Because doesn’t the personal canon say “I didn’t like it, so it didn’t happen”? It didn’t happen because I didn’t like it…)

    Somewhere in there someone moaned about how all they cared about was good stories, and oh if only Hypertime…! Because then this Magneto-complaining person could be immediately shut up, you see, hoist by their own petard. In other words it would be the same thing as Weisinger snarling “it was an imaginary story, okay” to fans in the 60s. Wouldn’t it?

    Except, it wasn’t an “imaginary story”, so it didn’t need any sort of “Hypertime defence” in the first place…and then the same people who claimed they only wanted “good stories” were subsequently embittered by the way Marvel dumped all of Morrison’s story-matter as soon as he was gone. But if you don’t care about continuity, why would you care about that either? Why would you want Morrison’s successors to be bound by what he did, if the only thing you care about is a good story?

    Here’s where we really miss the letter column, as a device distinct from the Internet forum: a place where instead of Hypertemporal explanations you can get real-world explanations. Someone once wrote Roy Thomas a letter in the pages of The Invaders, asking how come Gerber had given one date for the origin of Captain America, and Thomas had given another. Thomas replied — I repeat, Roy Thomas replied — “oh, Gerber made a mistake, it’s actually this date”. As Dave Fiore pointed out (in the first post of his I ever read), those letters pages were the site of a co-creative interaction between fandom and their objects of desire…

    And, oh damn, suddenly I’ve lost sight of the point I was trying to get to.

    Will try again later.

    • Justin Zyduck said, on August 28, 2009 at 5:14 am

      For some of those New X-Men fans, in this specific case, that might not just be people dismayed that Morrison’s stories “don’t count” anymore, but rather that they were genuinely looking forward to seeing someone else pick up on what he was doing and continue it in their own way.

      It’s like … the old-style Guardian being a regular in Superman now doesn’t make me think that Manhattan Guardian doesn’t count, but it is irksome because Morrison specifically intended for the Seven Soldiers characters to be picked up by other writers and played with, and no one seems to want to.

      • Chris Arndt said, on May 16, 2010 at 6:21 pm

        The New X-Men story/arc would prove to be ultimately troubling not to dismiss in parts or as a whole because Grant Morrison designed it, composed it, and wrote it as the last X-Men story he would ever have to read. In his mind it was to tie up and tie off the narrative…. and not be built on. It was the opposite of Seven Soldiers. Seven Soldiers’ purpose was to build something within the DCU continuity, narrative, commercial catalogue, that others can play with, build off of, build on, and work with; he was making toys for the sandbox.

        He did not write NEW X-MEN as potential for another writer’s sequel. In order for a successive writer to have a Magneto or certain other characters as stuff to be used, stuff had to be undone. Whether it was undone correctly is something to be debated… take that up with Chuck Austen.

  12. Justin Zyduck said, on August 28, 2009 at 5:07 am

    Of course, a fun aspect of Hypertime is that you could always say that Hypertime *does* still exist, but the current DCU “mainline” is on a Hypertimeline in which Hypertime does not seem to function.

    Or perhaps not.

    One thing I think Hypertime *does* discourage isn’t on the story level at all, but on the fan level — it makes fanwank somewhat irrelevant, doesn’t it? I’m using “fanwank” in the most positive sense one can: I rather enjoy mental exercise to try and figure out how something incongrous might fit into the continuity you pretend is airtight. It’s a fun game as long as you don’t become tiresome about it, a pure fan interaction with material; it makes for great blog posts put terrible stories.

    • pillock said, on August 28, 2009 at 8:37 am

      A No-Prize to Justin!

      For the idea of an outlier hypertemporal line. Where there are tightly-clustered lines there must also be lines less tightly-clustered, eh? And at the fringes of the less-clustered regions there must be marginal lines…parabolic lines…

      And then, one assumes, potentially…even hyperbolic lines…

      …Bringing in a little astrophysics there, apologies, just trying to seem clever I guess. Anyway, so how about this for Hypertime: the central regions of it are populated by the lines belonging to myth, folktale, fairy-tale, tall tale…the Allusive Core, infinitely dense. (This is going to look a lot like the ancient Welsh cosmogony, by the way) Outside it, the Literature Ring, public-domain material still distinguishable from the mass of “here’s a story, who knows who told it first”…with Homer the most indwelling of these as far as the Western world goes…

      And then outside that, a shell of owned properties that interact with themselves and one another when they are pierced by some line of association that is actually going fully from the “outside” of Hypertime to its core — and that would be us, writing scholarly essays, and having scholarly thoughts, about the Body, or Volume, of Literature. Thus hypertemporal pathways that link stories are made in the act of us considering them…

      …Hmm. The model collapses of its own weight after a time, though, doesn’t it?

      All in all, I much prefer a Periodic Table of Literature, to an Atomic Model of Literature. Though they speak of the same things. Will think on this idea further, though…I’m missing something…

      OH! Duh. If the model is the Sun, there’s more interactions between the substances of the outer layer, than there are interactions between the substances of the outer layer and the substances of the various inner layers…even though it’s the inner layers that drive the thing, and support it. Hmm, that’s a pretty good description of how the cortex functions in relation to the rest of the brain, too…

      On second thought, I agree: I cherish fanwank. Maybe we have too much of it sometimes, or some of it is silly and pointless…but man, I want to participate in my serial storytelling, for God’s sake!

      And if I can’t do it by fanwanking, how else am I going to do it?

  13. [...] – Andrew Hickey is doing a series of meta-linked posts on all sorts of things, you should read them all but this is the best one. [...]

  14. [...] Andrew wading into his massive Hyperpost Canon Cycle (hooray, Andrew!), the idea was bound to come up eventually: that Marv Wolfman’s 1986 extravaganza Crisis On Infinite Earths pointlessly got [...]

  15. Chris Arndt said, on May 16, 2010 at 5:51 pm

    I’ll say this about how Hypertime can work and how writers refuse to let it work, because it many ways Hypertime is something about LETTING and less about FORCING althought it can do both.

    Remember that from 1983 to 1987 Hawkman, Katar Hol, was in a storyline/event/arc called the Shadow War. The story essentially was that the Silver Age Thanagar, which more-or-less had been non-imperialistic for the entirety of DC publication history since the 1960s, and has basically just used its interstellar technology for taxi services since that was what it was good for… had decided to conquer earth and their method was infiltration. Hawkman’s mission/goal was not just to prevent earth’s downfall but to discover and reverse what had caused the cultural change to his home planet.

    (I mention the story’s plot only because it is ironic that when Hawkman’s base-continuity changed retroactively through HAWKWORLD, the post-1987 Thanagar had the status that pre-1987 Hawkman was trying to resist, and post-1987 Katar Hol was just fine with it).

    The point is that in 1984 or 1985, Superman appeared in the last couple issues of THE SHADOW WAR OF HAWKMAN limited series.

    Superman also appeared in that same story arc, later in that exact arc, in the regular Hawkman series written and published after 1986. But the CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS and MAN OF STEEL came out through 1985 and 1986 so it was a different version entirely of the Superman character that appeared. So two different versions of Superman with completely different (yet similar) histories (especially regarding Krypton) appeared in one Hawkman story, with one more-or-less intact Hawkman history. Hypertime (or whatever) allows for two differente Supermen with their own respective histories to each leave repercussions in Hawkman continuity.

    More importantly the 1960s/SHADOW WAR/Tony Isabella era Hawkman had a significant impact on the John Byrne/Marve Wolfman/MAN OF STEEL era Superman as Hawkman was the one who showed Superman the locale/remains of Krypton.

    Naturally HAWKWORLD messes up the SHADOW WAR arc story, yet typically writers would/should just gloss over it. Hypertime allows us to gloss over it, or simultaneously allow for narrative repercussions despite the…. seeming discontinuity.


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