ratcreature: RatCreature as Flash (flash)
Last night I've read the Terminal Velocity arc and the issue after, dealing with its fallout, i.e. Flash #95-101, and when I went to bed I had this thought about how Flash's experience is in a lot of ways similar to Animal Man's (first) death and rebirth through the Red in the Flesh and Blood arc in Animal Man #51-56. Since then I looked at the Animal Man issues again, to write this entry -- it's been a while since I read them -- and it wasn't quite as parallel as my half asleep brain thought, mainly because Animal Man recognized his "power field" before his first death, also Buddy is less able to hold on to his previous personality, while Wally manages to push his new insights into his subconscious. But I still think their "near death experience" stories are similar in a lot of ways, because totally different superpowers work on a similar structure, which I find neat. Also I think it's interesting how differently they and their families deal with these things.

Now, it's not exactly uncommon that superheroes die only to come back, whether through magic, some cosmic entity, timeline anomalies, or whatever plot device is en vogue then, however I think that both Buddy's and Wally's experiences stand out. Not only because they both come back changed and actually remember things (while sometimes superheroes don't remember and don't change much, it's not that unusual that the death/resurrection plot is used to tweak or change the character's powers), but also because both do it by themselves -- through discovering a deeper connection to the source of their powers, i.e. the "Speedforce" for Wally, "The Red" (a.k.a Morphogenetic Field) for Buddy. Subsequently that "rebirth" and with it their new awareness of their respective "field" changes their powers, ends up being a spiritual experience for them (though some will get more extremist about it in the long run than others, I mean it's not like Flash has founded a Speedforce church -- I hope *g*), and also leads to tension in their relationship to their "normal" spouses who remained behind and didn't share that revelation. Even though for both their wish to stay with their loved ones longer, and to protect them, was their primary reason not to surrender to the field, but to cling to life and come back.

a more detailed look at this, cut for lengthy quotes about the Speedforce and The Red, and their nature )
ratcreature: RatCreature is buried in comics, with the text: There's no such thing as too many comics.  (comics)
A little while ago when I talked about reading the recent Flash issues which give Wally a secret identity, I wondered how this worked. I mean beyond the "Hey, let's use The Spectre as a giant plot device that works in weird and quirky ways" level. Like, how did The Spectre do it, and what exactly was the nature of his intervention, etc. And then yesterday I read this essay with an introduction/theory of how Hypertime works, and started to wonder whether you couldn't use Hypertime to maybe make the plot device a bit less whimsical from an intra-universe perspective.

Now, I'm not familiar with The Spectre, but I read about his powers (that link goes to the page for the previous Spectre since the one for the current doesn't details Hal Jordan's powers as Spectre), and that bio lists things like "The Spectre is intangible, can fly, turn invisible, inhabit and animate inanimate objects, and sense the intentions of people in the place where they plan to carry those intentions out. The Spectre knows many secrets of the universe and its inhabitants, though even he is not omniscient. The Spectre can sometimes get glimpses into the future, although this is not without great difficulty."

And Hal's powers as Spectre may be different, and probably that has been explored in the most recent Spectre series, but since it's the same Spectre force inhabiting him they ought to be similar, and I have to say that at first glance at least, causing all the changes necessary for this secret identity creation if he does changes only inside the main timeline is hard too swallow. What Hal says in Flash #200 is "I can't raise the dead, Wally. Not in any pleasant way. And like Barry I can't change history. But I can help. [...] You regret revealing your identity to the world. Putting your loved ones in danger. I can't stop that from ever happening--but I can fix it so that from this day forward--no one will remember who the Flash is. No one will remember Wally West is the Flash. No one will remember Barry Allen was the Flash." The Spectre ask Wally to run, and apparently somehow the combination of both their powers controlled by The Spectre made not only the memory changes but also changed physical objects revealing the identity, like that statue of Barry Allen, and I assume that extends to news archives, tv records and the like. Another complication is of course that it is possible to recover the "lost" memories with a sufficient trigger, like Batman researching Flash's identity to find him when he goes "missing," Batman telling Wally he's the Flash etc.

Now, after I read the Hypertime essay, about how Hypertime makes it possible that timelines intermingle, I had this idea. What if the Hal didn't made countless manipulations to the main timeline (though I know the conversation between Flash and Batman in #205 makes it sound like that, but it's not like either of them would be aware what exactly happened), but somehow manipulated Hypertime, making the main timeline interact with a second one in which history really was that neither Flash's identity became known, made them feed back into one another, collapsing both those timelines into the new one. Like the description above says, as Spectre Hal knows a lot about the universe, he also has experience *cough* in messing with time and reality, and while as Spectre alone he may not have the power to manipulate Hypertime, with that knowledge he could have used the Flash's powers in some way to collapse two timelines he's chosen to get a result like this.

With that hypothesis of what he did his statements make more sense. He didn't change the "past" in either separate timeline, but merged the two, ones with very similar events, and with it all people, objects, records, in both timelines merged as well. Since the timelines are so similar, it wouldn't make a difference for most things, so the intermingled objects and people would be exactly like they were before. The conflicting event, i.e. the revealing of Flash's identity, in the new version came from the second timeline. And it helps explain the odd way the memory recovery works too. If you think about the two timelines as intermingling states it makes sense that people know and not know that Wally West is Flash until the final timeline settles, and like an observer makes two superimposed quantum states "collapse" into just the observed one-- like in the thought experiment with Schrödinger's cat-- the confrontation with the previous knowledge makes the person become aware of Flash's identity, and "collapses" the memories into the final version. And maybe whatever it is what intermingles when timelines intermingle within Hypertime can be interpreted in terms of probabilities, so when this superimposition of timeline versions settles into the final one, you could calculate the probabilities of how the final timeline will turn out. Only the probability of that memory of Flash's identity settling into the memory version of the first timeline is much higher if the person worked with Flash and really knew him as Wally, than if there are few and inconsequential memories of public appearances and such.

It still kind of makes your head hurt, but I like that much better than The Spectre doing all the changes to all people and objects directly. This way he would just have to know which timelines to choose from all of Hypertime so that their merging would lead to the desired result (with a high probability anyway).

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