DC Comics (November, 1991)
“Time And Time Again Again!”
WRITER/ARTIST: Dan Jurgens
FINISHED ART: Brett Breeding
COLORIST: Glenn Whitmore
LETTERER: John Costanza
ASSISTANT EDITOR: Dan Thorsland
EDITOR: Mike Carlin
Waverider returns to ground zero of Monarch’s failed attempt to destroy the DC heroes just as Superman and the Metal Men are extracting a quantum generator from the wreckage. Unfortunately the machine is about to blow when Waverider notices time grind to a halt and a strange woman take Superman and the generator. He follows her to a place called Vanishing Point, where he “awakens” a time-frozen Superman. There they meet the woman, Liri Lee, and the other Linear Men. (The one Superman met was a renegade but formerly one of them.) The Linear Men are charged with keeping history on its proper course, which includes the generator exploding and killing many, including Waverider’s parents. This doesn’t sit well with Superman or Waverider, but when they send them back Waverider grabs Liri’s time device, allowing him to get rid of the generator and saving his parents, that version of Matthew Rider growing up to become one of the Linear Men. Back in the present, Mister Z is back in Metropolis.
What they got right: We get to see more of Waverider and learn more about the Linear Man. Also, establishing the Linear Men became important during Zero Hour.
What they got wrong: If one Matthew Rider was born from the events of this story, then how did Waverider have any memory here? His memory should still have been what the world was like under Monarch’s control, which wouldn’t include his parents being killed when Superman and the Metal Men tried to get rid of the generator since by this point they were killed by Monarch. (Gold ended up saving young Matthew.) And yet he remembers his family who also don’t exist since Waverider stopped Monarch’s rule so Matthew and his future wife will not have the circumstances that bring them to meet. Also, Waverider supposedly changed history but since the Linear Matthew was already here wasn’t he supposed to have changed history, yet they’re mad that he changed…
And this is why I hate time travel.
Other notes: I understand both Superman and the Linear Men’s perspectives here. Superman is thinking about the live there now but the Linear Men are worried about maintaining history, as we see when Waverider is remembering the family that now never was. It’s tough to know who to side with. And yet there have been enough time travel stories by this point involving villains looking to change the future or the past that you have to wonder what they’ve been doing all this time if time travel is such a big problem. Their existence raises unintended questions.
Recommendation: Outside of the introduction of the Linear Men (do they still exist in the new continuity of New 52/Rebirth?) there isn’t a lot here to recommend. It’s not a bad story but it’s a confusing one when you actually stop to consider it.