Hypertime is a fictional concept presented in the 1999 DC comic book series The Kingdom, both a catch-all explanation for any continuity discrepancies in DC Universe stories and a variation or superset of the Multiverse that existed before Crisis on Infinite Earths.
The basic premise of the idea was summed up by writer Mark Waid as, "It's all true." It presumes that all of the stories ever told about a character are equally valid stories. For example, despite overt contradictions between the versions of Superman (and his adventures, supporting characters, and setting) that appeared in:
- the late 1930s and 1940s comics by Joe Shuster and Jerry Siegel,
- portrayed by George Reeves in the 1950s TV series,
- depicted in 1960s and 1970s comics drawn by Kurt Schaffenberger or Curt Swan,
- portrayed by Christopher Reeve in the 1978 movie and its sequels,
- written and illustrated by John Byrne in the late 1980s,
- portrayed by Dean Cain in the 1990s TV series Lois and Clark,
- portrayed by Tom Welling in the 2000s TV series Smallville or
- portrayed by Brandon Routh in the 2006 movie
no one of these versions supersedes any other as canon. This was a repudiation of the prevailing approach to continuity in superhero comics, in which only the currently-used version is considered valid, rendering prior stories which are inconsistent with this continuity officially apocryphal.
As it appears within comic stories themselves, Hypertime is a superdimensional construct which—under very limited circumstances (prescribed by editors in the real world, and by various in-story rules within the DC Universe itself)— can allow versions of characters from one continuity to interact with versions from another. For example, in The Kingdom, a version of Superman extrapolated into the future briefly encounters the Siegel/Shuster version.
Hypertime works like this: the main, or "official" timeline is like a river, with a nearly infinite number of distributaries—alternate timelines— branching off. Most of the time, these alternate timelines go off on their own and never intersect with the main timeline. On occasion, the branches return, feeding back into the main timeline - sometimes permanently, sometimes temporarily. Thus, history can sometimes change momentarily and then change back (or not). If characters from a very different Hypertimeline move into our own, this accelerates the process, causing more noticeable (but shorter) changes to the timeline (for example when the Titans were visited by their counterparts from The Kingdom, Jesse Quick was briefly replaced by a version who had taken her mother's Liberty Belle identity).
Some fans dislike the concept of Hypertime, believing that it undermines the storytelling continuity that adds to their enjoyment of stories set in an ongoing shared universe. Other fans like the concept because it saves stories that they enjoyed from being officially discarded following a retcon which renders them inconsistent with the new continuity. Still others find the concept intriguing in and of itself, as an overarching structure allowing different works of fiction to co-exist.Template:Fact
Other criticism of Hypertime stems from Mark Waid's involvement in the concept. While co-created by Grant Morrison, Waid was the first to use Hypertime in the controversial The Kingdom mini-series. Many fans believed Waid was using Hypertime not to address assorted continuity problems, but to bring back the Silver Age DC comics that Waid has long held to be "good" comics. However, Waid himself was also the first to explicitly use Hypertime to explain continuity errors (when asked about certain characters in JLA: Year One).
Hypertime has been infrequently used in DC titles subsequent to its introduction in The Kingdom, perhaps as a result of its chief architects and proponents, writers Mark Waid and Grant Morrison, working elsewhere in the comics industry (notably for Marvel Comics). While the concept was used in two multi-part stories involving the Modern Age Superboy and Walter West the Dark Flash, many writers (such as Titans writer Jay Faerber) found that their attempts to use Hypertime were either outright rejected or their stories severely altered to allow no attempt to further expand upon the concept.Template:Fact
In July 2005, in promotional talks at the San Diego Comic-Con DC Executive Editor Dan DiDio effectively disavowed the concept of Hypertime, stating it would no longer be used in future DCU titles.
The Infinite Crisis series resolved the continuity problem in a different way, according to DiDio, who in a Newsarama interview said "The great part about Crisis is that all mistakes and retcons are time anomalies." DiDio's solution, as seen in the pages of Infinite Crisis, postulates reality-changing "continuity waves", generated by Superboy-Prime punching the walls of his extradimensional prison.
During the weekly series 52 (co-written by the concept's progenitors, Waid and Morrison, among others), Skeets/Mister Mind confronts Waverider, and refers to him as "the seer of Hypertime" and divergent timelines. Discussing the new 52-Earth Multiverse, Dan Didio stated that "each Earth has its own parallel dimensions, divergent timelines, microverses, etc". In fact, several divergent timelines have since branched off a single Earth, with, at least on New Earth, Booster Gold, Goldstar, Supernova and Rip Hunter acting as the new Time Masters, whose role is to reset the different timelines restoring the continuum to a single chain of events. The villainous Time Trapper has since returned to plague the Legion of Super-Heroes, once again creating microverses and pocket dimensions to plague his enemies by muddling their past.
- Multiple histories
- Multiverse (DC Comics)