Hypertime

5 May

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So where were we?

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DC was a single universe that wasn’t part of a multiverse anymore, but it was part of a megaverse that consisted of multiverses of all the other comic book companies.

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Then, in 1999, DC decided that the multiverse can still exist, but with strict, yet loose, extremely confusing rules.

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Back in 1989, DC launched the Elseworlds label.  This was for stories that didn’t fit in regular continuity.  It was sort of a post-Crisis replacement for imaginary stories.  They weren’t meant to count as canon.

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But in Zero Hour, Elseworlds were shown to exist as alternate timelines that were suddenly appearing as part of the Crisis follow-up, along with stories from the pre-Crisis era and from screen adaptations.  But at the end of Zero Hour, we went back to one universe, though the Elseworlds continued on.

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In 1996, one of those Elseworlds stories was Kingdome Come, a story that showed what the DC Universe could become in the near future.  The story was so popular that following it, soon DC started putting elements into the mainstream comics that would indicate that Kingdome Come could become the actual future of the DCU.

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DC followed up Kingdome Come in 1999 with The Kingdom, a less popular sequel.  The main elements of the Kingdom that matter to us is that it introduced us to Hypertime, and it showed an Earth-2 Superman trying to break through a barrier between worlds.  Let’s table the Superman element for now, and focus on Hypertime.

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So what is Hypertime.  It’s the multiverse, sort of.  It’s no longer Earth-1, Earth-2, etc.  Instead, it’s a simple idea that everything happens somewhere.

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Basically, there is one universe, but with divergent timelines.  The main DCU is the Central Timeline, but the Central Timeline can be altered as the other timelines flow in and out of the Central Timeline.  So basically, whatever was the main DC timeline at any given time with whatever continuity and canon exists at that time is the Central Timeline at that time.  So in 1946, the JSA and Superboy exist in the same universe.  In 1963, Earth-1 is the Central Timeline.  In 1987, we have a pre-Crisis Universe where Shazam:  A New Beginning and a pre-Hawkworld Hawman still exists.

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This was DC’s way of explaining away every reboot and continuity error ever.

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Now, every pre-Crisis universe, every imaginary story, every Elseworld, and even other company’s universes, were part of Hypertime.

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But there were rules.  People could travel to other realities, but only for limited times.  There was no more characters migrating from one Earth to another.  If someone from one reality visited another reality for two long, the realities would start to bleed into each other, and eventually would destroy each other.

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I thought Hypertime was a great idea.  It was a great way to have our multiverse and still keep the post-Crisis canon.  It made intercompany crossovers count.  It made TV shows and movies count.  And it helped us nerds cope with continuity errors.

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DC didn’t do too much with the concept after the Kingdom.  Basically, the Flash and Superboy did Hypertime story arcs, then the concept went away.  Dan DiDio didn’t like Hypertime, and by 2005, it was replaced by something else and we were to forget Hypertime ever existed.

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What was it replaced by?  Well, that will be next time, when we go back to the Earth-2 Superman subject we tabled earlier.

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