Post by Susan Hillwig on Dec 21, 2012 1:59:04 GMT -5
Notes from the Road: The Schism
There’s a problem with writing about the future: in most cases, when you actually reach that timeframe in which the story takes place, it’s nothing like the writer said it was going to be. The Hex series is a good example of that. According to Michael Fleisher, the world’s going to be blown to Hell and gone by the year 2045, and the gang-controlled wasteland that follows will be filled with flying vehicles and laser cannons and giant mutant grasshoppers and lots of other stuff that I really don’t think is going to come true in the next couple of decades. Maybe when he wrote those comics in 1985, it seemed plausible, but by 2005, even the idea of nuclear Armageddon was becoming far-fetched. And when you add in the notion of a DCU with no superheroes in it (a condition Fleisher insisted upon at the beginning of the series, but started to reverse around issue #11, when he brought in his own version of Batman...whom he then killed in #12), this particular future world becomes downright laughable. So that was another factor in my desire to write “The Long Road Home”: To close the door on a timeline that had once been an integral part of DC Comics history, but the company now refused to acknowledge the existence of. I also knew there were fans out there who liked Hex and still did after all these years, so I wanted to do this in a respectable manner, not just dismiss everything out of hand. A legitimate reason had to be found for why this future existed once, but no more.
Once again, Hal Jordan was the key. In the guise of Parallax (the original, non-space-bug version), he’d come close to rewriting history during Zero Hour, but was stopped by his fellow heroes. Though not as reality-altering as Crisis on Infinite Earths, Hal’s time-meddling had brought about a few minor tweaks...so what would have happened if he hadn’t been there to make them? I began backtracking Hal’s appearances prior to becoming Parallax until I got to Green Lantern #46, wherein Mongul does indeed give Hal such a pounding that he almost lets the villain kill him. From there, I speculated on what would have occurred if Hal truly had died in that moment, and how badly things could have spiraled out of control from there, based on what facts we already knew. How much of that post-Zero Hour history would have come true without Parallax dipping in his hand into the timestream? Was Hal’s descent into madness really a blessing in disguise? By positing such simple questions, I’d found a way to set up a parallel universe for that 2050 wasteland to exist in without contradicting anything that’d come before or since. When I laid out the idea to my husband, he went goggle-eyed, which told me I was on the right track. If someone who preferred Marvel to DC more often than not was reacting with such shock and amazement, how would the hardcore DC fans react?
The coup de grace came when I realized there was evidence within the comics themselves to support the parallel universe theory. In Jonah Hex #83 (set in 1875, remember), the gunfighter went on a bender and chucked his signature Colt Dragoons into a lake so deep he was unable to retrieve them when he sobered up...yet in Hex #18 (175 years later), when he finds his stuffed corpse, he very clearly proclaims, “Them's (gasp) my Dragoons!” Now this particular model of gun was rare even back in Jonah’s day, so if the man says they’re his Dragoons, then I presume he means the ones he threw in the damn lake. So how do you explain a paradox like that? The same way I had Green Lantern do it in my story, with the added benefit of giving Jonah a thread of hope to cling to once more, a way for him to recover some of his sanity by letting him believe his fate isn’t so inevitable. I will admit to having some trepidation about that particular wrinkle, though, as I was worried some longtime Hex fans would fear I was undoing his death, so I originally put a note for the reader at the beginning of that chapter asking them to be patient and finish the story before screaming at me.
And now you’re almost finished with the story as well, or at least this leg of it. When you come back for the final set of notes, I’ll tell you where it all goes from here.
- Susan Hillwig