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Off My Mind: How Should Time Travel Work In Comics?
by Tony 'G-Man' Guerrero on
There seems to be two different kinds.
With the time traveling we've seen, there's basically two things that can happen when traveling into the past. I'm still not sure which I would support over the other. It seems in the DC Universe that traveling through time doesn't have too much of an affect on things. The Legion of Super-Heroes traveled back from the future into their past time and time again. We are also currently seeing some of the affects of Bruce Wayne being in the past. In the latest issues of Batman And Robin, Dick is discovering clues and secret rooms that he didn't know existed before. The question we raised was were those rooms and clues always there or did they happen because Bruce is now in the past making them happen?
In the Marvel Universe it seems that going into the past creates an alternate timeline. Whenever the Fantastic Four or others travel back, they don't affect their past but create a divergence in time. This also happened when Rachel Summers tried going back to change her past.
Going into the future is another issue. I think that if you go into the future, you should not be able to see your future self. I always use Back To The Future for this argument. When Marty McFly left 1985 to deal with the problems of his future kids, time kept going. Biff Tannen was able to see the Delorean go into the future. I say that if Marty (and his girlfriend) left 1985, they left the timeline and so couldn't have kids that would be in the future. The response I usually get is the fact that Marty does return to 1985 so he will be there to have kids eventually.
But then what does that say about the timeline? Do things happen as they are meant to happen? If someone traveled into the past, perhaps they were always meant to. If they seemingly change things, it could be they were supposed to change things and push events into occurring. I think that if Bruce Wayne travels back in time and puts an image of a bat on a family painting, it was probably always there and meant to be there. On the other hand, if Bruce went back and tried to prevent the murder of his parents, something would prevent that from happening since it already has happened.
I suppose we could sit here all day and try to debate how time travel should work. Instead, let me just ask what your thoughts are on time travel. Do you think it's possible to change what happens in the past or would it simply create an alternate timeline?