Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Confusion never stops, closing walls and ticking clocks...

Posting this one a little early, since I am tired as all get out and have to be at work early tomorrow.

You're welcome. :)

Yes, rejoice Dinah fans. Because this really has been all about her the whole time.

It’s a little hard to fully describe Per Degaton, even to somebody who reads comics and is familiar with all the tropes and clichés of the genre. The short version is that he’s a time-traveling Nazi with a grudge against superheroes in general and the Justice Society of America in particular.

Power-wise, Per Degaton is literally untouchable since he lives outside the regular flow of time. He can travel anywhere at any time at will. Also, there are a few different versions of him – chronal clones – wandering around the time stream; all plotting ways to build an empire based on the ideals of the Third Reich. In fact, his only real weakness is that while nobody can touch him in the 4th dimension, he’s equally unable to touch anything in the three-dimensional world without the right electronic equipment and is usually dependent on recruiting agents to act on the foreknowledge he offers.

And even then, affecting change is difficult since changing the time stream is like forging metal – you have to heat things up a lot in order for things to bend a little and even then it takes a lot of care and craft, hammering things at the right points, in order to make things wind up in exactly the shape you want. And since there’s all sorts of agencies and free-lance heroes running around policing the time-stream who are watching for this sort of thing, it’s all but impossible for one villainous mind to keep a divergent timeline stable long enough for it to become “accepted continuity” by the rest of the universe.

Which is why, if you’re really serious about changing time, you need to move at angles within angles. And Per Degaton has become very good at that. He nearly destroyed the JSA once with a few carefully planned crimes in 1951 and a few carefully planned murders around the turn of the 21st century. It was only a matter of time – relatively speaking – before he tried something else. And he’s had the benefit of being able to see the whole of time across multiple realities and all the changes and fluxes before picking exactly when and where he wanted to strike.

So he thinks; I want to destroy the superheroes. Their biggest strength is their ability to come together in a time of crisis. I really want to destroy the JSA early on but The Linear Men, Rip Hunter and Booster Gold and the like will be watching that era closely after my last attack. If I move forward into the days with the JSA is relatively inactive and the JLA is still new… what would be the best way for me to go about this?

And while he’s pondering this he notes a change. A change in the far future where he can’t see past a certain point. And just before that is when he sees it; his own death. His true death. Three generations of heroes on three teams, united by a common legacy in common cause against him by one leader. And that leader is Dinah Lance.

And that’s when Per Degaton realizes the perfect target. The only founder of the Justice League with a direct tie to the Justice Society of America? One of the heroes who would go on to rebuild the Justice Society of America into a team that matched the glory of its’ first incarnation before exceeding it? The first long-lasting field agent of Oracle, whose solo adventures would pave the way for one of the best covert operative groups in the world? Yes, removing her from the picture or otherwise weakening her and preventing her from becoming the effective leader, confident combatant and master of multiple martial arts she was destined to be would definitely strike a blow against his enemies; maybe even cripple the JLA and JSA forever.

Paranoid as Per Degaton is, he refuses to consider a direct attack. His mind has become so twisted in isolation and his enemies among the time-traveling heroes too numerous for him to send an agent to strangle Dinah Lance in the crib. So he attacks through the angles again… and conceives upon a plan where he will use another time-traveling villain to use his powers to summon forth a mundane villain beneath notice to alter the time stream in such a way so that the alteration seems to be an attack upon Green Arrow, when the actual target is Black Canary.

Because while Oliver Queen considers his failure to give Roy the care he needed to be his lowest moment and greatest failing, the incident was also a major moment in Dinah Lance’s life too. For a while she had been rebelling against her mother and the nice, safe life she had tried to build for her… even while trying to uphold her mother’s legacy as a heroine. She’s abandoned the florist trade to take a few months to find herself, traveling across the country – occasionally crossing paths with Hal and Ollie on their own journey of discovery. And in the moment that she comforted Roy Harper and saved his life, Dinah had a revelation that would have a profound impact upon her life and personality.

She had always been a nurturer; making things grow and caring for things drove her interest in botany as a child. And as a member of the JLA, Dinah naturally fell into the role of a den mother, trying to keep “the boys” in line when tempers flared. Yet Dinah resisted the idea of settling down (as her mother wanted her too) and falling into the routine of work & family. She rushed into marriage right after high-school and quickly realized her mistake. She wanted something bigger for herself – which lead to her decision to adopt her mom’s old costume and identity and use the training her uncles secretly gave her to good use.

And yet, in that moment, as Dinah tried to care for Roy, she realized what she might be giving up in the name of independence. Logically, she knew that the life of a vigilante did not lend itself well to that of a parent; she had too many sleepless nights waiting for her beat-cop father and superheroine mother to come home NOT to realize that.

But in that moment she thought that maybe she could avoid those mistakes that had forced her to grow up too soon. Maybe the idea of having children and being a heroine wasn’t too outrageous. She dithered on the subject for a while, telling Ollie that she would love to make babies with him but she wouldn’t make orphans. But eventually, her natural desire to nurture and her love of children won out.

Of course with Roy dying before that faithful night had begun, things changed. Dinah abandoned heroism completely, her idealism having died along with Roy as the one man she thought she truly loved proved to be as unreliable and selfish as her first husband. She fell in with Hal as much out of mutual need as attraction (she did flirt with him a bit their first year in the JLA and Hal always joked his weakness to yellow applied to Blondes as well but the attraction stayed even after he found out she wore a wig) but never really had any desire to keep in the business of heroism after the move to Seattle.

And without a Black Canary… well, even without the scandal with Ollie destroying the JLA (Something Per Degaton didn’t predict but was not displeased by) Dinah’s absence would have had a major effect on the newly reformed JSA, who didn’t survive long after their first battle following their reunion, what with Dinah having been vital in stopping Obsidian’s plans to absorb Milwaukee into The Darklands. And logically The Birds of Prey – if formed at all - never would have formed into the tightly-knit sisterhood that they were with Dinah as their field leader. All the negative effects of Ollie’s absence (such as the destruction of Metropolis) were unintended benefits and useful red herrings – at least from the viewpoint of a crazed time-traveling Nazi hellbent on causing as much damage as possible.

Of course knowing all this doesn’t do our heroes a lick of good. They’re still trapped in the Borrowed Time dimension and none of them have the power it would take to manipulate the time stream or even move themselves someplace where they could undo the damage that Parallax and Tockman have done. And the more time passes, the more it “cools” into its’ new shape and the more their “true” memories become false. So how do they get out of this mess?

Luckily, Ollie has a plan – a plan he says will send them halfway across the country to look up an old friend who isn’t around anymore but who owes Ollie a favor and may hold the key to their rescue.


  1. Heh!
    Now I'm wondering how they'll get out of there.
    Hal's spare ring, maybe?

  2. Two problems with that scenario.
    1. Because of when the Borrowed Time universe broke off from the main timeline, things never got to the point where Hal made a spare ring to hide in the truck. He didn't do that until AFTER their travels on the road ended.
    2. An individual Green Lantern, even a particularly willful one, doesn't have the power to time-travel. If they did, Hal would have just gone back in time to stop Coast City from being destroyed or at least made the attempt. And it was pretty well established (in Green Lantern: Emerald Knights) that it takes all of the Guardians (or at least most of them) to facilitate controlled time travel.
    I will say that spare equipment does figure into it. But not Hal's.

  3. Hmm. Rip Hunter might still exist there....

  4. He might, but this trail is a little twisted for him to follow and get there in time...

  5. > Luckily, Ollie has a plan – a plan he says will send them halfway across the country to look up
    > an old friend who isn’t around anymore but who owes Ollie a favor and may hold the key to their
    > rescue.
    Not Rip Hunter, I hope. Totally overused guy, but I can't recall any other DCU time avid travellers. Well, Booster, but he only did it once.

  6. I take it you like my assessment of how Roy's condition changed Dinah?

  7. Bravo! You're absolutely right about how instrumental Dinah was in the formation of the two Justice teams and the BOP, and was important in keeping them together. I like the JLA Year One bit. Seems like Dinah would've gotten together with Barry, but, well, there's Iris.

  8. Well, I have some ideas about that actually.
    You know how Barry and Dinah did have a thing in JLA: Year One.
    You know how Barry and Ollie seem to have issues and jibe at one another a lot?
    You think there's a connection between the two? ;)

  9. And here I thought it was over Hal.

  10. Heh. That's not my type of fanfic.
    Nor am I going to be writing Brokeback Lantern about the REAL reason they are called The Hard-Traveling Heroes.

  11. My guess is that it's Flash's treadmill.

  12. Well, I guess you know by now that wasn't what happened.
    But it WAS kinda-Flash related, so give yourself a half-point.

  13. Logically, I know it makes sense to wait. Especially after I rushed right out to get Champions On-Line and was underwhelmed by it.
    But dangit... it looks so good and I want to get a decent character name before all that is left is BlueHood4567!