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Hypertime on Infinite Invisible &c.

Did I say I was going to write more about The Invisibles? I may have lied about that… I’d like to reread the whole series before I get into it.

David Fiore’s latest topic is Joseph Campbell’s nefarious influence on some branches of superhero criticism, and further explanation of corporate superhero universes as postructuralist narratives. Here’s my crazy theory for the day: Crisis on Infinite Earths is Marv Wolfman and George Pérez’s attempt to mythologize the DC Universe. See David:

Obviously, myths are the products of many minds—but myths qua myths certainly aren’t perceived that way. Mythology is a “homogenous” body of work, the structuralist’s dream come true—it is taken for granted that, given enough time, a rigorous exegete could tease THE meaning out of the canonical writings.

And again:

Joseph Campbell is the ultimate modernist—at war with the “superstructure”/“false consciousness”. There’s only one hero see? And there aren’t many archetypes, either. Just focus kids, that modernist light will see you through the haze of multiplicity.

Just replace “hero” with “universe,” and there you go. I don’t have a lot to add now beyond what I’ve already written, except to note the connections. Of course, Crisis didn’t succeed in its goal of homogenizing the DC Universe even remotely, and it seems to have created the conditions in which Mark Waid and Grant Morrison were able to incorporate poststructuralism into the very textual fabric of the DC Universe with the introductoin of Hypertime. Just look at this, Warren Ellis’s attempt to describe Morrison’s description of Hypertime, taken from the Unofficial Hypertime Website 5.0:

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.

The funny thing about Crisis is that it posits “trying to discover the orign of the universe” as the action which leads to the splintering of the universe into a frightening multiplicity—and then not only must the characters in the story go back to the origin of the universe themselves in order to prevent the disaster which was caused by somebody observing the origin of the universe, but Wolfman and Pérez and all the other creators who built the post-Crisis universe necessarily look to the origin of the DC Universe in “recreating” it and bringing it “back to basics.” According to the mythology of Crisis, it’s practically a cosmological law that John Byrne would come along and fuck everything up with his Man of Steel!

Can anybody who knows more about this stuff than I do tell me if DC still uses Hypertime? Readers, at any rate, seem unaware of it, or at least don’t seem to consider it as an implicit textual explanation for, say, why the Jeph Loeb/Jim Lee Batman is so different from the Brian Azzarello/Eduardo Risso Batman. I know Mark Waid uses Hypertime in The Kingdom. Are there any Morrison comics that use it? Does it come up in JLA ever?


  1. Robin Hermann says:

    I’m not sure if Morrison ever makes any real -use- of the Hypertime concept in JLA, but he does -mention- it once or twice. When they’re fighting Quisp in “Crisis Times Five!” and Quisp is making one of his speeches he says something like “I move through time -and- hypertime.” (I think that’s Quisp who says it.)

    As far as I understand the concept (and it’s not that I’m having, or had, difficulty understanding it– it’s just that _The Kingdom_ bored me so exquisitely my attention had wandered a bit by the time Waid made his big shouty debut of the topic) Morrison does not make explicit use of the concept of ‘Hypertime’ that was so central to the plot of _The Kingdom_. He does sort of allude to it in ‘Elseworlds’ and ‘Imaginary Stories,’ (the two-parter featuring the Key) but I think that’s about it.

    — 28 April 2004 at 4:09 am (Permalink)

  2. robert says:

    not much of a reader but i thought you might want to know from fist hand the sound of one traveling in hypertime around you …the sound i heard when i saw this being blast away was that of a soft ruffle of a paper bag as it ripped accross the street and down into a park 100 feet from my girlfriends house if i was to of blinked i would have missed it that was fast…

    — 12 April 2005 at 1:08 pm (Permalink)