Friday 13 October 2017

Untangling Detective Comics #966

[This post MAJOR SPOILERS for Detective Comics #966 as well as recent events in the Batwoman ongoing which also has implications for the whole meta-narrative of Rebirth as well as my own unsupported speculation, be warned, they begin right after the header picture.]
Oh, sweet Jesus, time travel in a multiverse involving the timeline of a character I have an unnatural in-depth knowledge of. Its Christmas come early!

Context: this week's issue of Detective Comics, the second part of A Lonely Place Of Living, features the current Red Robin version of Tim Drake (as seen since the dawn of the New 52) and a future version of himself who is Batman (as mentioned in the recent flashforward issue of Batwoman) being chased through Mr. Oz's prison by Doomsday (the New 52 version that killed Superman except he didn't because there was only one Superman now not two so that's sort of undefined at this point).

Mixed up in all this was a recent promise by James Tynion IV that this issue would bring us some answers on the question of Conner Kent, the pre-Flashpoint Superboy. The issue sort of delivers on that but also uses these answers to set up more mysteries.

So, where to begin?

Tim!Bats: Who He Is And How He Came To Be

Firstly, the future Batman who is Tim Drake and uses guns including the gun used by Joe Chill to kill the Waynes. This Batman originally appeared in a Teen Titans storyline by Geoff Johns over a decade ago. In that story Tim, along with a bunch of the Titans, have turned all-out fascist. In fact, one of the first glimpses we get into how bad things have gotten for the characters is Tim executing Duela Dent, the Joker's Daughter (she was a nicer, more whimsical character in those days and wasn't wearing anyone's face but her own).

Except maybe he's not quite that version of gun-totting Batman Tim Drake. This future Tim says he remembers “an echo” of the conversation he has with present day Tim, a conversation in different context but where he (future Tim) was equally horrified by the depths to which his future self had fallen.

The conversation he is referring to is quite specifically not the one he's currently having with his past self here. Logically, then its the conversation Tim had in Teen Titans with his own future.

The future Batman here is Tim from the pre-Flashpoint continuity who remembers meeting his future self and, in spite of all the warning, still chose to go down this route of being a Batman who kills because he felt driven to it after Bruce's death. However, he also remembers events from the life Tim is now living (or was going to before his abduction) as he refers to getting maybe a couple of months into his life as a student in Ivy Town before being drawn back into the world of costumed vigilantism. In the flashbacks to his native time we also see a conversation between the future versions of Anarky and Spoiler which ties in to the recent Utopia/Dystopia two-parter, though clearly a version of events where either that relationship didn't fall apart or the two reconciled in later years.

Future Tim claims that certain events are fixed so the obvious conclusion is that if the pre-Flashpoint continuity had continued it would have reached the status quo Johns set out and it would have passed through at least some of the events of Rebirth.

Considering that the whole premise of Rebirth was to restore a whole bunch of pre-Flashpoint continuity this isn't surprising. Presumably then the future we're dealing with here is one unfiddled with by whatever “stole a decade” from the DC universe.

It is also the future as seen in Batwoman, a Rebirth-continuity series.

Two options: either this future is inevitable (as it happens in both pre-Flashpoint and Rebirth continuity) or something is going to happen now future Tim is loose in the present to make this future happen, Terminator-style.

Then there's Conner Kent.

Kon Artistry

The big twist at the end of the issue is that future Tim remembers Conner but present Tim does not. This isn't much of a surprise as even the New 52 version of Conner (who never adopted the name, I don't think) hasn't even been referred to since Rebirth. Neither version was even present in the flashback to The Death Of Superman during the recent tour of Superman continuity that established what was and wasn't canon in the new continuity where the two New 52-era Clarks have been merged into a single history.

This might or might not be meaningful. It might tie into what we're talking about here or if might just have been editorial buying themselves time over a character they had no real use for.

So, is Conner coming back? It all comes down to whether we're dealing with two distinct futures with similar aspects or some unified future no matter which timeline we're looking at. The future we see in this issue has both Conner (not a part of the future we see in Batwoman) and Commissioner Montoya of Free Gotham (both featured in the Batwoman issue).

If the future Batman Tim comes from is exactly the same future we saw in Batwoman, if it is the future of the Rebirth continuity, then it makes sense that Conner's presence within that future means there's some future planned for the character. If, however, the lack of Conner in the Rebirth continuity is just a good mechanical way to establish that time is mutable and this dark future can be prevented (as Batman Tim actually says in the issue) then it makes sense that he'll stay gone.

Or both these theories could be way off because Tynion is a better writer than me or just because this was all a cute nod for fans rather than something deep and meaningful that a sane person would spend the better part of a thousand words trying to noodle out. 

No comments: