Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Come out of things unsaid, Shoot an apple off my head...

Eventually, the six of them (Ollie, Dinah, Hal, Mia, Connor and Cissie) wind up in front of what was Oliver Queen’s mansion, with the conflict between the memories of ‘what was’ and ‘what is’ becoming worse and worse.

Actually, Cissie was already there since the mansion she and her mom live in now was once Queen Manor and the crowd in front of the estate gets her attention. She doesn’t know anyone but does recognizes Ollie’s name from her mom’s stories. Yet something about the fallen hero doesn’t jibe with any of her memories or what little she knows about Oliver Queen from her mom’s stories.

Everyone else is feeling similarly confused and conflicted. Ollie is sobering up and the DTs are starting to take over. Dinah is finding it a lot harder to hold her temper at Ollie’s nonsense disrupting her life AGAIN. Connor is fighting to maintain his calm with a meditation technique he just remembered although he doesn’t know why he knows it. Mia is holding it together somewhat better, though she is worrying about what will happen when Richard finds out she didn’t go to her appointment that night, even as she remembers the homeless man SAVING her from Richard.

The only person who doesn’t seem to be having these feelings – apart from a vague feeling that something IS wrong - is Hal Jordan. He doesn’t remember anything like what the others are describing but he does suggest that they should tell what they remember and try and piece together where things went wrong.

What they figure out is this; The DC Universe as we know it continued as we know it up to a certain point; the night that Oliver Queen discovered that his adopted son, Roy Harper, had become a heroin addict. Ollie had failed to notice this, having been too busy with his own quest to “rediscover and save America”, being on the road with Hal Jordan for months at a time, leaving a lonely 15 year old boy to fend for himself.

Ollie’s reaction wasn’t exactly stellar parenting. He kicked Roy out of the house, told him not to come back and then went on the war path to find the exact drug dealers who had gotten his boy hooked. Hal Jordan, figuring that as Ollie’s best friend he was best equipped to try and track Ollie down and talk some sense into him, delivered Roy to Dinah Lance’s doorstep, explained the situation and asked Dinah to take care of Roy while he searched for Ollie.

In the world that was, Dinah saw Roy through the first of many long nights as he went through withdrawal and began to fight his addiction. But in this world… things changed. Because of William Tockman and one time bomb explosion on Dinah’s street.

Because while she was investigating the explosion, William Tockman – ever the master of good timing – managed to get into her apartment and deliver a lethal dose into Roy Harper’s system, leaving just enough time for him to step outside, fade away back into his own future and allow Dinah to arrive just in time to have Roy die in her arms.

From there, things went from bad to worse.

With Roy dead, Ollie never got the chance to try and make up for his horrible reaction to finding out Roy was an addict. Dinah dumped Ollie because she couldn’t be with any man who would abandon his own son in a time of need. Dinah reported Roy’s death to the police and the subsequent media circus (Ollie was still a local newspaper columnist at the time, so his son dying was big news) led to Oliver’s secret identity being revealed to the world along with all the details of his negligence.

Once the real story leaked out (Dinah had no reason to cover for Ollie and Hal was too honest to lie…), Ollie was kicked out of the Justice League and would have become a social pariah had public demand not led to Ollie being arrested on charges of child neglect and manslaughter. Ridden with guilt, Ollie pled guilty and served his time, eventually being released years later into a city that hated him.

But Ollie’s conviction wasn’t enough for the public. Questions would be raised about just how clean the rest of the nation’s super-powered teens were. The Teen Titans would break up under the intense scrutiny and The Justice League followed suit later as the legality of organized superhero teams and their right to make citizen’s arrests would be questioned. Heroes still joined together informally, of course – but there was never the great sense of cohesion that the various Justice teams brought.

Bonnie King, at this point a single mother with a lousy job as a secretary, would make a desperate bid for fame and fortune using the one thing she had left; a good scandal story. A tell-all book proclaimed that Green Arrow had abandoned her – first by forcing her out of the hero business and then by leaving her with child and no child support. The money from the first book, the film rights to her story and the subsequent string of book deals and paid appearances left Bonnie with enough capital to get started on a dream she had; a dream of having every girl in the world wanting to be Arrowette; not the heroine Bonnie King was but the heroine she always dreamed of being.

And so began the Arrowette Empire, with Cissie being groomed and pressed into the role of playing a superheroine on TV while making personal appearances at staged “combats” around the country. Think Miley Cyrus as Hannah Montana with trick arrows and you have some idea of the cash cow that Bonnie created. Cissie, for her part, had little to complain about. But she couldn’t help but feel like she should be doing something more important with her life.

Hal was drummed out of the Green Lantern Corps in disgrace – his great social experiment to teach the Lawful Neutral Guardians the value of a Chaotic Good approach to fighting evil with Ollie and The Old Timer being declared a failure and Hal’s own judgment as a Green Lantern being called into question. Marooned on Earth and between jobs, Hal went to Dinah looking for help… and found a lot more than he bargained for as two lost souls, abandoned by someone who had changed their life so much, found a new life together. The two moved to Seattle and opened a florist business with Dinah’s savings, and Hal taking a job as Dinah’s deliveryman.

The lack of a Green Arrow in this world would have other, more subtle effects on a great many other people. Just to name a few...

Without the positive example of a Green Arrow, an angry young Connor Hawke, who had been in constant fights at school before hitting puberty, would never have been inspired to ask his mother about going to the Buddhist Ashram/school where it was said Green Arrow spent some time.

Without a Green Arrow to sacrifice his life destroying the biological weapons of the Eden Corps terrorist group, Metropolis (and most of the people in it) would have been destroyed. This caused Superman to distance himself from The Earth, in favor of protecting the Universe as a whole – his greatest connections to humanity having been destroyed along with his city.

Without the example of Green Arrow, Bonnie King wouldn’t have been as obsessed with her daughter proving herself better than her former idol/lover and her stage mom tendencies would have pushed Cissie toward a life as a performer and athlete, not a hero.

Without a Green Arrow, Mia Dearden never would have been inspired to escape from the life of a teen prostitute that was forced upon her after she ran away from her abusive father.

The question remains then; who set this up? And who COULD set this up?

Who would have had a grudge against Oliver Queen as well as the ability to set all this up? Who would be willing to burn the Earth just for the sake of revenge? Sure, there’s a host of time-traveling baddies out there but how many of them would know about Green Arrow much less care about him?

The answer comes to both Ollie and Dinah at the same time...

Because along with all the other problems caused by the lack of a Green Arrow in this world, no Green Arrow means no one was there to pull off the one-in-a-million shot to take down a Hal Jordan who possessed all the power of The Guardians as he was psychically and secretly possessed by Parallax; an entity of pure fear. Between that and Ollie’s position as Hal’s best friend giving him a unique place to talk to Hal and get him to realize that the way he was acting was not in his character and that something had to be manipulating him… Parallax had every reason to get Ollie out of the way.

Yes, it all makes perfect sense… except that with Hal having been drummed out of the Green Lantern Corps in this reality, there was never a chance for Hal to gain the power of the Guardians and be possessed by Parallax. “It doesn’t make any sense!” says Ollie.

“All the things that have happened to you – all of you – and THAT’S the first thing that makes you realize nothing makes sense anymore?” sneers Hal as yellow light comes from his eyes.

Yes, Parallax has been hiding in Hal all this time. And yes, he’s just as much a prisoner as they are since he has been denied the power of The Guardians in this new reality – the pocket dimension of borrowed time they now live in. Because while it was Parallax’s hand that pulled William Tockman out of time and guided him to the proper time and place to strike, the plan to set all this into motion came from another time-traveler.

Someone who came to Parallax at a time when everyone thought Parallax was just the name Hal Jordan had adopted when he went crazy and not the name of a separate being.

Someone who showed Parallax a future that was coming and his inevitable defeat at the hands of a reborn Green Lantern Corps.

Someone who said he had as much to gain from ruining Green Arrow’s life as Parallax would.

Someone who lied to Parallax about his true goals and how manipulating the time-stream the way they did would allow Parallax to rebuild the universe into a realm of pure terror as he intended and how that coincided with his own goals… neglecting to mention that the paradox created would trap Parallax as well.

That was the goal of the Borrowed Time dimension, Parallax explains – to trap each of them inside one of their worst fears made real – Oliver as a failure to his family. Dinah living the safe life her mother had wanted for her. Connor in the life he might have lived had he not gained the balance he needed. Mia trapped in the hellish existence that was her life before meeting Ollie. And Cissie living a shallow, purposeless life as her mother’s living Barbie Doll.

And then Parallax explains what he has realized; his partner’s goal wasn’t to remove Green Arrow from reality…. It was to remove Black Canary!


  1. *takes another handfull of popcorn and leans forward, with huge eyes* OooOOooOOoOooOH

  2. You're just dying to know what Time Traveler has a grudge against Dinah, aren't you?

  3. Didn't see THAT coming, did you? :)

  4. Extant? He's dead.
    And yes, I know that's relatively meaningless in comics and especially in a time-travel story... but I wouldn't dream of undoing the very cool way Atom Smasher dealt with him in JSA.

  5. This is very neat. I love alternate universes and things where people try to change history!

  6. So do I, when they're done right and actually make use of the rich history of the DCU.
    Geoff Johns did it right several times in JSA. That's kind of the feel I'm trying to go for with Borrowed Time.

  7. Who coulds possibly have a grudge against Dinah.. >_> hee... well of course... good storys help.

  8. Heh, when I got to the part about what a lack of Ollie in the DCU meant, I wondered if you were going to mention him stopping Parallax. Using him is a great idea, of course, I still don't know the big picture yet.
    I hope you give Clock King more to do in this story, though, it'd be a shame to waste all those lyrical titles.

  9. Well, it would... but then again, using him again after this would defeat the point of using him in the first place.
    The fact that he was such a nobody and that he was such an unlucky, untalented Z-List shlub is what made him so attractive as a tool. Finding a way to bring him back from the dead permanently would undermine all of that.

  10. Not permanently, but just, ya know, have someone go "Damn, that was a good Clock King moment" at some point.

  11. Well, hopefully they'll do that after this...