Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The problem with time travel

Last week, Greg Burgas at Comics Should Be Good mentioned his difficulty getting past the way time travel is being portrayed in The Return of Bruce Wayne.

So in this issue, Dick and Damian investigate the weirdo coffin in which Bruce was trapped and the Justice League checks out the cape that they found in the cave, and the God of All Comics is pulling it all together decently. But here's the thing: while Diana and the rest of the League and Dick and Damian are talking about all of this stuff, I can't get over the fact that the past and the present simply can't exist at the same time. It bothers the hell out of me that, in comics, a person in the "present" can be talking about events that happened in the past, and those events are being shown, not as if they're happening in a different time, but as if they're just happening at a different place in the world and at the same time. I can't get past that, I'm sorry.

Meanwhile, several fans have pointed out the obvious blunder in the art on page 15 of issue #3, which shows Green Lantern Hal Jordan sitting at the JLA table, even though he is supposed to be with Superman and the others hunting for Bruce. J. Caleb Mozzocco illustrates the mistake on his blog with some added dialogue.

Personally, what I can't wrap my head around is why when people travel to a different time they would then be absent for an extended period in the present. It doesn't matter if they go on a year-long journey, they could still return to the moment immediately following their departure. That's what the time machine is for! Why keep everyone else waiting for weeks?

Similarly, in issue #1, Superman and company showed up just moments after Bruce Wayne had disappeared from prehistoric times. Their reaction: "Oh, no. We just missed him. We have to keep chasing him through time." No, you don't! You know he was there 5 minutes ago, so just use your time machine and go back in time!"

It doesn't make any sense. But that's the thing with stories involving time travel - they almost never do. So I'm trying not to let this spoil my enjoyment of the series, which is really quite a lot of fun in many other ways. I'm just a little bit disappointed that Grant Morrison wouldn't treat time travel more intelligently.


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