Sci-Ence! Justice Leak!

The Return Of Bruce Wayne… And Hypertime

Posted in comics by Andrew Hickey on June 1, 2010

Return Of Bruce Wayne 2 was a bit good, wasn’t it?

Almost a fifth issue of Klarion in look, with Frazer Irving getting to draw lots more grumpy Puritans, albeit this time living above ground and human, rather than the Sheeda we now have an ‘infestation of Hyperfauna’ – Cthuloid monsters attacking from outside normal spacetime.

In fact, they’re attacking from *our* world.

The ‘archivist’ – and what a fascinating design that is, with a body reminiscent of the Green Man (or perhaps of Swamp Thing), but with something of the fractal around the outside, but with a head that’s equal parts upended-Skeets and Batmask – gives us a description of a ‘cube time’ (not to be confused with timecube) which is, I’m certain, Morrison’s original conception for what Waid turned into Hypertime. We have timelines crossing each other and interacting with each other (“Each track a new vibration, a separate universe, a superstring on a mighty fretboard”) , but as RIp Hunter says “As I’ve always expected, perpendicular to plane time must be cube time, from where we look flat”.

This actually makes sense, incidentally. The DC Universe timeline is, from our perspective, a literal line – the line our eyes follow as we go from one panel to the next. What is a timelike dimension for the characters in the comic is one of our spacelike dimensions, and we can view moments from throughout the DCU’s timeline next to each other (right now I’m looking at cavemen *and* at the last few minutes of the universe).

(If our universe is a two-spacelike-plus-one-timelike-dimension hologram, as some suggest, then we can infer some sort of analogy about the DCU – we perceive a nonexistent third spacelike dimension, while for them spacelike and timelike dimensions must be more mixed up, because they’re only perceiving two dimensions.)

Incidentally, I would be very surprised if, given the multiversal stuff plus the idea of storing all the information about the universe’s timeline at the end of the universe, Morrison wasn’t hinting at something like the Omega Point of insane/brilliant physicist Frank Tipler (an idea which in its basics is quite a neat bit of speculative physics, but which just can’t bear the weight Tipler tries to place on it, and which was also the basis for my favourite Faction Paradox novel).

So these monster attacks are incursions from our world – possibly incursions caused by the writer and artist to give more drama, elements that ‘shouldn’t be there’ in the story.

In fact, given Nathaniel Wayne’s claims that the ‘dragon’ comes from Hell, what does that say about our own universe? We’re certainly willing enough to see characters in the DCU go through horrible torments for our own increasingly apathetic amusement…

And we’re clearly, at this point, getting set up for Multiversity, and being reminded that to a large extent Morrison has been telling one huge story in his DCU work for well over twenty years now – Animal Man, JLA, Seven Soldiers, 52, Final Crisis, All-Star Superman and now RoBW all deal with characters attempting to fight back against authorial interference, with the fight against entropy (and again, saving all the information in the universe *at the precise moment of heat death* seems the ultimate rage against the dying of the light) and with the idea both that we can never comprehend any meaning in the universe *and* that it’s possible to impose a meaning onto the universe, even if that meaning is contrary to everything whatever gods there may be intend.

So here we have Bruce Wayne, still amnesiac, travelling to the very end of the universe in order to break the curse that’s been laid on his entire family by the woman he loves (though to be honest the Wayne family don’t seem to have been especially bothered by the curse, what with the whole fabulous wealth and so on). Cursed til the end of time, Bruce Wayne simply *goes* to the end of time, before carrying on with his mission. That’s what I call making your own destiny.

And all of this is just a few pages out of what is otherwise a totally different story, about nature worship coming into conflict with religious authoritarianism, about the power of love, and how people kill based on what appear to them the noblest of motives. It’s pretty standard third-generation-Crucible-photocopy stuff, but done by a writer and artist on top of their game (and Irving is absolutely in his element in the painted artwork of grim-looking Puritans, though less so in the superhero scenes, where his rather emaciated Superman and Rip Hunter look very little like the characters they’re meant to represent).

So how has Darkseid turned Wayne into a Doomsday Weapon? What do the eclipses have to do with all of this? Why the repeated images of Wonder Woman’s logo when she’s not, so far, appeared in even one panel?

I can’t wait for the next few weeks, with three more of Morrison’s Seven Soldiers collaborators providing art for RoBW while Irving moves on to draw Batman & Robin. Morrison has been hampered with bad artists for much of his Batman run, but whenever someone good – or even competent – has come onboard the results have been magnificent. I only hope DC editorial realise from the success of this series that creating a good comic takes more than just a good writer…

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