Friday, October 01, 2004

Post-Crisis Crisis, Part 2

Continued from Part I.

So, why two Legions? Basically, to preserve the contention that Superman has met them both. Although the Legion was subject to major changes in the wake of Crisis, it still tried to maintain a coherent history for some 8-9 years, until it was completely rebooted in the wake of Zero Hour (1994). Because the Superman books marched on, Superman remembered meeting both versions, and even confused them momentarily. I'd like to think there is a bubble of time for about 60 years, starting near the end of the 30th Century, where more alternate futures are possible.

Onward and upward:

Issue #5. We discover that the Monitor planned for his death to release energies that would activate his devices and drag everything into a "pocket universe." However, the devices have made Earth a “patchwork” of many different time periods, with areas destroyed by anti-matter being “patched” with their unaffected counterparts from different times. (For example, if Hawaii of 1999 was destroyed, Hawaii of 2032 has taken its place.) Thus, time is jumbled and compressed, with different ages intermixing. The different ages also include alternate timelines, but there aren't too many "Elseworlds." Alex Luthor, Harbinger, and Pariah gather all the heroes and villains on the Monitor's satellite and explain what’s what, then return them to the surface to protect the patchwork areas. A small group is left on the satellite when the transformed Red Tornado attacks.

Issue #6. The heroes escape the Monitor's satellite and disable Red Tornado. (He's been upgraded with more storm-related powers so he's more of a threat to a space satellite.) The Anti-Monitor uses Psycho-Pirate to create fear and panic on Earth. There are superheroes in the patches, and under Psycho-Pirate's influence, our heroes fight them. Out of one patch comes Wonder Woman, Diana of Themyscira, who recognizes Superman as one of her dearest colleagues. Superman is sore impressed that a veteran like her could claim to have learned so much from him. Harbinger expends all of her power to wrap the Earth in a protective field, disrupting Psycho-Pirate's influence. This forces the Anti-Monitor to redirect his energies toward Earth, and that breaks his hold on the Guardians.

Issue #7. With most of the Earth under control, Harbinger tells a select group of heroes the history of the universe. Long ago, Krona, the renegade Oan, tried to discover the secrets of the dawn of time. He ended up unleashing evil. Also in the distant past, the Monitor and Anti-Monitor were born on the moons of Oa and Qward, respectively, and fought each other for most of time, until one battle left them incapacitated. Millions of years later, the scientist who would become Pariah destroyed his world trying to observe Krona. Pariah's failed experiment apparently awakened both Monitor and Anti-Monitor. In other words, lots of exposition, much of it the same as before.

Basically, the difference this time is that because the anti-matter wave shows up in various places throughout the timestream, its effects in those areas have created an infinite number of alternate timelines. [Here I was inspired by Gog’s plan in The Kingdom to work his way back through time, killing Superman on a different day each time, and creating alternate timelines as a result.]

However, the antimatter wave is just gravy for the Anti-Monitor. He wants to break down the vibrational walls that keep time moving on a single track, so that the past “bleeds into” the future. Once everything is reduced to a single point in time, it will be blasted with an anti-matter cannon, thus ensuring that the anti-matter universe is the only one which has survived. (The Anti-Monitor destroyed his universe’s Earth with positive matter -- naturally -- because he knew the Crime Syndicate would give him trouble.) The tuning forks were designed to keep time aligned, but with the Monitor’s death the process was begun too soon. [Except for the bit about the Crime Syndicate, this paragraph’s explanation came pretty much from JLA: Incarnations #5.]

The Anti-Monitor’s machines are still forcing different eras together, so Alex Luthor and Pariah lead another group of 15 heroes -- M’Onel, Jade, GLs John Stewart and Alan Scott, Lady Quark, Doctor Light II, Martian Manhunter, Captain Marvel, Superman, both Wonder Women, the Ray, Orion, Lightray, and Firestorm -- to the Anti-Monitor's fortress. (Why only 15? This is just the first wave.) There, the Anti-Monitor almost kills Superman, and Diana dies rescuing him. [I originally had a thought to make this the Linda Danvers Supergirl, seeking "redemption" and closure as per the final events of her series, but this seems to work out better.] With her final breaths, Diana tells "Clark" she dies happy, knowing she's helped save the future for what he becomes. "What I become?" Superman asks. "You live up to your promise," Diana whispers.

A severely wounded Anti-Monitor escapes in a starship containing the anti-matter cannon. Superman and several other heroes attend Diana's funeral on Themyscira.

Issue #8. We peek in on Darkseid and learn he’s “cloaked” Apokolips from the Anti-Monitor. New Genesis has been destroyed, so conferences are held with Orion, Lightray, Mr. Miracle, and Barda, to see about overtures to Darkseid. On Oa, the Guardians also debate their next course of action, and there is a clear difference of opinion. The Red Tornado's “autopsy” ends up destroying what remains of the JLA Satellite. Guy Gardner finally gets the last GL ring he will ever need or want. On Qward, the Anti-Monitor has built himself a new body. Flash II dies destroying the anti-matter cannon.

Issue #9. Guy fights John Stewart and the Shark, with Hal Jordan in the middle, before they all take off for space and the anti-matter universe. Back in our universe, villains gather on Kobra’s satellite “Ark” (refurbished with secret thanks to Luthor -- the two also worked together in JLA: Incarnations #3) and with simultaneous well-placed strikes, take control of New York, Moscow, and New Delhi. Alex Luthor, Harbinger, and Pariah are addressing the UN when Kobra interrupts holographically, demanding the heroes’ surrender. (Or “Ssssurrender,” I guess.) Kid Flash is called out of retirement to help Flash I break through the walls which the villains have erected around the cities. Begun, the Villain War has. Psimon takes control of Kobra's Ark.

Issue #10. The Villain War rages across Earth. Kobra kills Psimon. The Spectre ends the war by announcing that the Anti-Monitor is going to the dawn of time, and must be stopped before he changes all existence. (I suppose Harbinger’s powers and the Monitor’s devices are presently keeping Earth “out of time” and temporarily safe from the A-M’s plans.)

In the anti-matter universe, an army of alien baddies led by Guy Gardner and Hal Jordan prepares to square off against an army of Green Lanterns for control of the moon of Qward where the Anti-Monitor was born. (One side thinks it's the source of his power; the other thinks it's keeping his full power in check.)

Earth’s heroes travel back to the dawn of time. The villains are dispatched to Oa, 10 billion years ago, to stop Krona from creating the anti-matter universe. The villains fail, and the heroes are nearly beaten by the Anti-Monitor, when the Spectre, backed by the might of the Earth's sorcerers, manages to force the Anti-Monitor to a draw. More and more power is poured into the battle, and everything turns white....

Issue #11. In the anti-matter universe, there’s a flash of white nothingness, and then everything’s back to normal. Taking the fallen Tomar Re’s power ring, Hal Jordan becomes a Green Lantern again. On Earth, it’s the next morning, and no one remembers the Crisis. The “patches” are gone, and so are everybody from the alternate timelines. (Straightening out the timeline eliminated the anti-matter waves and therefore the alternate timelines created thereby.) There is a debriefing at Titans’ Tower involving many heroes, just to confirm that there are no more time anomalies. Still, no one has heard from Barry Allen. It looks like the crisis is over; but then, the skies turn red, and then black, as the Anti-Monitor draws Earth into his universe.

Issue #12. On Earth, millions of shadow demons begin killing. The assembled sorcerers weave a spell to remove them. Meanwhile, several of the mightiest heroes (Big Barda, Captain Marvel, Dr. Light II, Firehawk, Firestorm, Lightray, J’Onn J’Onzz, Orion, Power Girl, Superman, Lady Quark), follow Pariah to Qward to destroy the Anti-Monitor. Kid Flash tags along and finds Barry's empty uniform. A team led by Batman and Mr. Miracle (Blue Beetle, Black Canary II, Katana, Atom II, Green Arrow, Adam Strange, Animal-Man) takes a Mother-Box-enhanced Bug to Apokolips and convinces Darkseid the Anti-Monitor is a threat to him too. The Anti-Monitor is softened up by many attacks -- the "poisoned" shadow demons, Dr. Light II, Alex Luthor, and Darkseid’s Omega Force -- and finished off by Superman. (This doesn't kill him outright, but it still flings him into the star. Semantics, maybe, but the first and last people Superman kills should be the pocket-universe Kryptonians.) The star explodes. Alex Luthor opens a portal big enough for the Earth, which returns to its proper universe. Closing the portal expends the last of Alex's energy, and he dissolves into nothingness.

In a pre-dawn epilogue atop the Daily Planet, Superman and Batman discuss the events of the past week or so. Superman asks why Batman wanted this meeting. Batman explains that most people think he's a loner, but he's worked with a lot of heroes in the past 7-8 years -- the Justice League, the Outsiders, a few sets of Teen Titans -- so he knows people in "our profession." He's never seen anyone unify or inspire like he's seen Superman do in this crisis. Supes says he didn't do anything. Batman says he didn't really have to -- since Superman caught that space shuttle, he's had an uncanny knack for being in the right place at the right time and doing the right thing.

Batman continues: "This world's seen many people with incredible powers, but until recently it had never seen anything like you. You could have been a conqueror. You could have been a god -- but you've chosen to be a man. We two were on the front lines of the biggest threat to our existence this universe has ever faced -- and all those men and women fighting all those battles, from the youngest Teen Titan to the most experienced Green Lantern, only needed to catch a glimpse of you to get their second winds. I can't explain it, but there it is. Being an icon is an awesome responsibility, Superman, and it's been thrust upon you. Even with all we've been through, big things are coming, and people are going to be looking to you for leadership. I called this meeting to tell you how much you've come to mean to the world -- and also to let you know I'll be there to stop you if you screw it up."

Batman turns to leave and Superman calls out, "Isn't this sort of emotional display out of character for you?" Batman looks back over his shoulder: "I lost a bet." He drops off the roof and swings away. As the sun rises, Clark Kent puts on his glasses and heads off to work.

Some time later, Barry Allen’s funeral is attended by many heroes, including Superman, Batman, GL Hal Jordan, Wally West, J’Onn J’Onzz, Aquaman, and Black Canary II -- founding and future members of the JLA. Psycho-Pirate returns to the mental institution, his mind spinning with thoughts of the alternate timelines and the patchwork Earth.

What do you think?


Matthew_Rossi said...

It's as good a retcon as DC could put out. It's a shame that Crisis literally eats its own tail the way it does.

Oh, and one idea: why does the Anti-Monitor have to destroy the Earth in the Anti-Matter universe with positive matter at all? Why can't he simply have torn it apart and used the anti-matter of the anti-Earth to attack our universe? After all, he's getting the anti-matter from somewhere, and using positive matter seems so beneath him.

Tom Bondurant said...

Well, I just liked the idea of the white wall, and not having to explain why it was different in the anti-matter universe. I've always thought the white nothingness wasn't the anti-matter itself, but the reaction between positive matter and anti-matter.

I do appreciate the feedback. I know it was a lot to wade through.

Matthew_Rossi said...

Actually, it wasn't all that much to read, and it did work as a story, so what length there was didn't drag at all.

It just seems to me, looking back on it, that if I were tapped to write a 'post-Crisis' Crisis, the last thing I would want to do would be a Zero Hour or anything like that. Instead, I would take the opportunity (much like the one you present here, actually) to reveal that the Monitor's ultimate plan was for the one Earth to serve as a hiding place for the Multiverse... and I would basically run things up until the Anti-Monitor at the dawn of time exactly the way you have: and then I would bring back the Multiverse.

Tom Bondurant said...

DC put itself in quite a corner at the end of Crisis -- it effectively couldn't do any parallel-universe stories without seeming to backtrack; and yet that's such a tempting source of material. The 1987 Justifiers/Bialya story in Justice League was apparently rationalized as a "parallel dimension" story, but how is that different from using something like "Earth-J?"

Of course, DC used Zero Hour to explain its post-Crisis reboots; and eventually invented Hypertime as a back door for future parallel-universe stories. Guess that all demonstrates that rules are made to be broken.

Jeff R. said...

Well, if you (1) want two Legions, and (2) want the Anti-Monitor to be recreating multiple universe by way of alternate timelines, then you probably should be using the Time Beacon as more of a major plot hinge. The Beacon, after all, was designed to prevent there being more than one Legion. (Originally it was to enable the Legion to get home after time travelling rather than accidentally winding up in some other future, but later in the series there was a fairly strong implication that it did more, essentially making the legion future the only possible future and making all timelines converge to their single one in the 30th century.) Luckily, IIRC, it got blowed up real good during the crisis. So I'd suggest that you make that event more prominent in the narrative, and hold off on the duplication of the Legion until that happens...

Tom Bondurant said...

Thanks! I vaguely remember something about the Time Beacon in Crisis (or maybe the Superboy "pocket universe" story), but I am not much of a Legion scholar. (I guess the T.B. no longer exists in the post-Zero Hour Legion?)

Still, I would like to keep the actual manipulation of time itself to a minimum. A big part of this exercise is trying to puzzle out what everything would have looked like to a post-multiverse observer. I don't want to take a position "outside of time," because that was the perspective of Zero Hour.

In the big picture, the Legion's involvement isn't that critical to me, which is ironic because they could provide additional commentary on the Superman-as-icon subplot. They should be involved, since they're such a big part of DC history. However, on one level, I just wanted to have some fun with the reboots -- and if I ever get the time to do full scripts for these, I'll probably include the Waid/Kitson reboot too....