Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Multiversal retconitis

What might the medical term be for forgetting things that happened in a previous continuity even though that continuity is still valid? Multiversal retconitis? (Note: as of this moment, there are no Google results for that made-up term. If you ever see it, you know where it came from.)

Here's my diagnosis of Batman's multiversal retconitis.

1. Batman met the Legion during one of the JLA/JSA teamups (JLA 147-148). This was recently referenced in "Countdown" #45, where they were called the Earth-1 Legion. He met the Legion again in "Brave and Bold" 179, and met Karate Kid in issue 198, then got their help fighting the Composite Superman in World's Finest 283-384. That makes Brainiac 5, Chameleon Boy (2x), Colossal Boy (2x), Cosmic Boy (2x), Duo Damsel, Element Lad, Karate Kid, Lightning Lad (2x), Princess Projectra (3x), Saturn Girl (2x), Shadow Lass (2x), Shrinking Violet (2x), Sun Boy (2x), Ultra Boy, and Wildfire (2x) that he'd met, most more than once.

2. Batman met a second Legion during the events of Final Night and the Genesis wave. This was the Legion that appeared after the universe was recreated after the events known as Zero Hour, and was last seen on Earth-247 during the Infinite Crisis. At the time, part of the Legion was trapped in the 20th century (known informally as "Team 20"). Apparition, Brainiac 5, Cosmic Boy, Ferro, Gates, Inferno, Saturn Girl, Spark, Triad, and Ultra Boy (plus Shvaughn Erin) were the members. That's the second version of Brainiac 5, Cosmic Boy, Saturn Girl, Triad, and Ultra Boy that he had met, yet he never said anything. Maybe super-telepath Saturn Girl could have caught something, or super-smart Brainiac 5. But no.

3. Batman met a third Legion, chronologically, when he was tossed forward in time in "Brave and Bold" (vol. 3) #5. He met Brainiac 5, Chameleon Boy, Colossal Boy, Dream Girl, Invisible Kid, Karate Kid, Light Lass, Lightning Lad, Phantom Girl, Shrinking Violet, Star Boy, Triplicate Girl, and Ultra Boy. That's the third version of Brainiac 5, Cosmic Boy, Saturn Girl, Triplicate Girl, and Ultra Boy that he had met; and the second version of Chameleon Boy, Colossal Boy, Karate Kid, Lightning Lad, and Shrinking Violet. You'd think that super-smart Brainy or super-telepath Saturn Girl might have picked something up, but no. You'd think that he might have mentioned something to, maybe, I don't know, Superman, when he got back.

4. Batman met a fourth Legion, chronologically, during a story known as "The Lightning Saga" while teaming up the JLA and JSA. We don't know the full details yet, but Batman met Dawnstar, Dream Girl, Karate Kid, Sensor Girl, Starman, Timber Wolf, and Wildfire. That's the second time he's met Wildfire, Dream Girl, Starman, and Sensor Girl/Projectra, and the third time he's met Karate Kid. You'd think that he might have said something during the whole five issues, maybe "hey, I just met the Legion and this isn't the same group even though they have the same names!" Batman apparently recalls fighting Karate Kid in the future because he's ready to fight him in the present (even if it's a different version), yet says nothing.

So what is Batman suffering from? Senile dementia? Alzheimer's? Multiversal retconitis? Is there a doctor in the house? Paging Polite Dissent...

Coming soon: Superman's got a very advanced case of multiversal retconitis.


John M. said...

I had figured by Batman's lack of comment about the Legion during the Lightning Saga that the new Brave and Bold would take place afterwards. Now, B & B says it happens before? Can anyone think of a valid explanation, or is this just another continuity glitch, the type DC had been avoiding, except in Countdown, where no one knows when it's happening?

Michael said...

Superman's multiversal retconitis is even worse. He hasn't met the post-Infinite Crisis Legion yet, but the pre-Crisis Superman met the pre-Crisis Legion many times; the post-Crisis rebooted John Byrne Superman met the Pocket Universe Legion, the v4 Glorithverse Legion, and the post-ZH Legion; and the post-Infinite Crisis/Birthright rebooted origin Superman has met the Lightning Saga Legion.

But get this: the pre-Crisis Superman (as Superboy) and Supergirl were members of the pre-Crisis Legion; the post-Infinite Crisis Superman was a member of the Lightning Saga Legion; the clone Superboy who would later become Kon-el was created pre-Zero Hour yet joined the post-Zero Hour Legion; and the latest version of Supergirl is a member of the post-Infinite Crisis Legion -- yet Superman, Superboy, and Supergirl all are currently in the same continuity.

This will take a while to research and put up like my Batman analysis. Multiversal retconitis makes my head hurt.

Anonymous said...

Another Batman/Legion encounter was in World's Finest Comics in the early 80s... around the time of B&B 198. The story featured the "return" of the Composite Superman who later renamed himself Amalgamax. The Legion was summoned by Superman to help save Batman. In the end, Projectra used her illusions to make Amalgamax think he had a horrible and deadly disease. Other than Projectra, I recall Wildfire, Shrinking Violet, Saturn Girl... but I'd have to dig it out to list the rest.

Duke Harrington said...

Hey, don't forget, one Batman actually joined the Legion!

Michael said...

Thanks Anon, I added that one. According to the cover, Colossal Boy, Lightning Lad, and Projectra.

Duke: that was an imaginary story. I thought of that but I was only considering the "real" Batman. Otherwise I'd have to include all of the "imaginary" Superman stories and that makes my head hurt even more.

Matthew E said...

One possible explanation is that thing mentioned in 'The Lightning Saga' about how time travel often makes people lose their memories.

Duke Harrington said...

Tachyon poisoning.

Michael said...

Yes, time travel does play havoc with your memories, but Batman only traveled in time twice, once in Brave and Bold (v1) 179 and then two continuities later in Brave and Bold (v3) #5. In all the other cases they came to him.

Jim Drew said...

You're assuming that Batman not saying anything means he has anything he's willing to say.

* Batman knows that time travel f*cks with things. If folks from the future shouldn't talk much to folks from the past to avoid messing up the time stream, he may stick to similar tactics in reverse: the more he associates with future folks, the more problems it will cause.

* Playing off the previous item, revealing the presence of apparently alternate universe versions of multiple Legions may not be the right thing to do. This is Batman, after all: he keeps *all* useful info private, sharing it only reluctantly and only with those he trusts completely.

* If we figure that -- despite how they may be drawn differently -- all alternate universe Val Armorr's look/sound/etc. like one another, differing only in costume, Batman may not be aware (or at least may not be sure) that these indeed are alternate Legions. Between (a) limited exposure, (b) the vagaries of time travel, and (c) the wide forms future tech could take, it's possible that some of the alternate Legions could be just the same folks in different costumes. It's not like 21st century super-heroes even get into new costume designs on occasion, after all.

(Of course, again, recognizing that this is *Batman*, he definitely knows something is up, if not just what. Green Arrow and such probably think it's just option #3, changing costumes.)

Matthew E said...

Yes, time travel does play havoc with your memories, but Batman only traveled in time twice

Ah, but is it actual time travel that messes you up, or is it being generally mixed-up in time-travel-related situations?