Time travel is a hot button topic in genre fiction right now, and comic books are not immune to the zeitgeist. Between TV and print, superheroes are spreading throughout the timestream. <p>In terms of superhero comic books, Deadpool and Cable are reprising their classic team up in a series called <i>Deadpool/Cable: Split Second</i> that deals explicitly with time travel, while over in the land of superhero TV, excitement is heating up for CW’s latest DC TV series, <i>Legends of Tomorrow</i>, which focuses on Rip Hunter and a team of heroes traveling through time to fight Vandal Savage. <p>There are plenty of prominent time-travelers in comic books. In fact, some heroes you might not expect also adhere to the trope, having far-flung adventures in both the future and the past. Here’s our list of the ten greatest time-traveling heroes of all time!
The almost-forgotten hero from the alternate timeline of DC Comics' 1991 event <em>Armageddon 2001</em>, Matthew Ryder escaped a dystopian dictator and certain death by traveling into the past with the ability to "read" potential futures of people just by touching them. <P>Unfortunately, while he prevented his future from happening, he did so by accidentally causing the creation of his dictator nemesis a decade early, setting in motion events that led to the <em>Zero Hour</em> crossover years later. As far as temporal super heroics go, there are more impressive wins.
Young Avengers' first leader sought to balance the scales for things that he'd do later in life — time travel can get weird, when it comes to cause and effect, remember — by adopting the guise of Iron Lad before he grew up to become Kang the Conqueror, who appears on our time-traveling villains list. <p>As Iron Lad, he managed to lead the team's short-lived first incarnation before fate - or the time-traveling equivalent - asserted itself, taking him to his destiny as one of the Avengers' most famous, and most deadly, foes. His career may not have been the longest, but his aim was true… And with the Young Avengers remaining fan favorites even without a current series, his legacy will live on for some time.
The original Deathlok was Luther Manning, a man from the post-apocalyptic future world of 1990 — well, he <em>was</em> created in 1974 — who traveled back to the present to find himself teaming up with the Thing and Nick Fury (after earlier clashes, of course) to try and undo the world in which he came from. <p>Although I don't remember 1990 being particularly apocalyptic — admittedly, I was younger at the time and my attention was elsewhere — it's fair to say that he didn't really do anything too bad to the future, considering how it turned out. Good job, Luther!
No, not the current team, but the original 1969 lineup which decided to try and save the world of the 31st century by traveling back to our time and recruiting some more heroes to the cause. <p>Along the way, they had numerous chances to accidentally screw up things, but always managed to avoid it — even when that meant avoiding spilling the beans to Vance Astrovik, the future New Warrior known as Justice, that one of their members was… Well, an alternate version of himself. All that <em>and</em> they defeated the Badoon invasion that was the reason behind their formation. You've got a lot to live up to, Groot.
One of the two most time-travel-y X-Men, Lucas Bishop didn't really <em>intend</em> to be a time traveler; instead, it was more a matter of doing his job as one of the XSE (Xavier's Security Enforcers) and following a bad guy through a time portal. <p>Like Rachel Summers, he watched as the future he'd arrived from became more and more likely, but <em>unlike</em> Rachel, he decided to do something about it… Namely, try and kill Hope, even if that meant traveling through time again and hunting down Cable to make sure it happened (actions that got him on our time-traveling villains list, as well). He failed, of course, and reappeared in a recent volume of <em>Uncanny X-Force</em>. Could more timey-wimey hijinks be on the way before too long?
What's that? You don't tend to think of Green Lantern as a time-traveler? Clearly, you've never heard of Pol Manning, Earth's Greatest Hero in the year 5700 — better known, perhaps, as Hal Jordan. The surreal existence of Manning is one of the stranger pieces of <em>GL</em> lore: When in need of a hero to save the world, the governments of the Earth of 5700 would simply kidnap Jordan from his own time, wipe his memory and give him the temporary (fictional) identity of Manning before returning him to his rightful time, place and mindset. <p>Sure, Jordan may not have been in control of — or even fully aware of — his time traveling double life, but that doesn't mean that he didn't serve as a Time Cop as well as a Space Cop when the situation demanded it.
With the creation of the wonderfully-named "Cosmic Treadmill," The Flash mythos gained a whole new dimension as the speedy superhero was suddenly given the ability to travel through time, meaning that his adventures could take place any <em>when</em> as well as any where. <p>Of course, it was only a matter of time before this ability would end up being exploited in the wrong way, leading to a butterfly effect mix up that created <em>Flashpoint</em> and The New 52, but for that brief period <em>before</em> everything went wrong, the Flash could be relied upon to clean up messes all through time. <p>And true to form, Flash's CW TV show has dealt with time travel in the form of the villainous Reverse Flash.
For a teen who'd grow up to become the world's greatest superhero, it's almost disappointing to discover that it took three time-traveling teens from the 30th (later, 31st) century to introduce Clark Kent to the mysteries of the timestream. <p>Once the Legion of Super-Heroes entered his life, Superboy became a regular passenger on the cross-time express, either by Time Bubble or under his own steam but somehow always managing to stay away from any knowledge of his future self's actions, which may end up being his most impressive feat, considering just what Superman ended up accomplishing during his long career.
To try and get into the reasoning behind Cable and his various time-travel escapades would be both exhausting and confusing, so let's just leave it at this: At no point during his entire decades-long career as the X-Men family's favorite techno-organic enforcer has he managed to entirely undo the time stream by needlessly slaughtering another superhero, even <em>with</em> the amount of heavy artillery he carries around at all times. <p>He even had a series that was all about him fighting the Avengers and he managed to do it without killing any of them. Why couldn't Cable have been the X-Man who lived through the <em>Age of Ultron</em>, huh?
Perhaps comic book's top time-traveling superhero, Booster Gold may have started off his superheroic career with one simple time jump, but since then, he's teamed with Rip Hunter — who may or may not have been Booster's son — to protect the timestream from unwanted changes, only to fall victim to the rewriting of all DCU history via The New 52, where he's traveled into the past to meet Jonah Hex, and more recently he's been seen back in the future as part of <i>Justice League 3001</i>. <p>Booster also played a big role in <i>Convergence</i>, an event that had multiple versions of heroes from across time and space meeting, and which restored DC’s pre-<i>Crisis On Infinite Earths</I> version of the multiverse. In his tie-in series, Booster even briefly assumed the identity of another time-travling hero – Waverider. <p>It's only a matter of time before Booster works out how to get back to where he came from — or, at least, to the 21st century — and takes control of the timestream once again… And time is the one thing that time travelers have in abundance.