November 8's Detective Comics #968 brought Hypertime to the forefront as the concept played a crucial role, and this week's Justice League #33 further defines what Hypertime means in the "Rebirth" universe.
Spoilers ahead for Justice League #33.
In the finale to the "Bats Out of Hell" tie-in to Dark Nights: Metal, the League goes up against the Barbatos, the Batman Who Laughs, and other nightmare Batmen from the Dark Multiverse. Written by Joshua Williamson, the issue features art by Tyler Kirkham and Mikel Janin.
But at the center of the issue is a scene that teases the existence of alternate timelines for the main DC earth ( the world that's also called "Earth Zero" or "Earth Prime").
Hypertime is a concept from the '90s that was introduced to explain the existence of other, alternate realities (in the absence, at the time, of DC's Multiverse).
Now there are 52 different Earths in DC's Multiverse, but current issues are reminding readers that there are also a slew of alternate realities for Earth Prime that exist in Hypertime.
For example, in Detective Comics #968, readers were told that the "Titans Tomorrow" character in that issue - who came from an alternate future that resulted from an alternate timeline - existed within Hypertime. The "Titans Tomorrow" storyline would not be another Earth in the Multiverse, but is instead an alternate future of this main DC Earth.
Confused? Let's look at how the concept of Hypertime is utilized in Justice League #33 as the series continues the story of "Bats Out of Hell":
As the issue begins, the Batman Who Laughs floods Cyborg's Mother Box with energy from the Dark Multiverse, attempting to extract "Element X," some type of pure metal he needs for Barbatos' nefarious purposes. In the process, Cyborg is being rushed with visions of possible failures — nightmares of things going wrong.
But Cyborg's Mother Box starts talking to him, encouraging him to allow his "original programming" to be deleted so he can completely bond with the Mother Box. Of course, that would mean Vic Stone himself being erased. But the Mother Box starts to convince Vic that it's the only way to win this battle.
Vic sees a vision of the bigger picture - all 52 universes in the Multiverse, their lifeforms all at risk. He's about to give in to the Mother Box when Raven enters Cyborg's consciousness and tells him that his true power lies within his own heart - that he can beat the Batmen while still being Vic Stone. He uses the connection of the Mother Box to Element X to utilize the power of the Multiverse = or something like that - and now he starts using "Cyborg One Million" powers.
Just after the Batman Who Laughs gives a hint about a Batman who merged with Lex Luthor (that would be interesting), it looks like Raven is right, as Cyborg uses his powers to break free and also free the rest of the League.
Cyborg starts blasting music over his speakers to get the team pumped up (really) and they're joined by a few other heroes, including Dr. Fate, Deathstroke and Mr. Terrific. Cyborg frees Raven from where the Batman Who Laughs imprisoned her, trying to get her "darkness." Cue hug between Raven and Vic. Awww…
Cyborg starts telling the Justice League who the "Dark Knight" Batmen are - ghosts of dying worlds who represent Batman's fears and regrets - and he says Barbatos promised them he'd bring back their worlds if they destroy this one.
Speaking of Barbatos, he enters the scene, but the Justice League is like, "peace out" as Cyborg stages an exit.
This is where the Multiverse gives the heroes a good look at "Hypertime." (Yes, the Multiverse is doing this. Vic actually says "the Multiverse led us here.")
We get a description of Hypertime as Barry says "it's a web of time streams outside the Multiverse."
What follows is a two-page spread where the League can see windows into other timelines within Hypertime.
Included in the windows on the two-page spread some familiar characters and scenes from past continuities and alternate futures, like "New 52" Superman, Batman Beyond, Flashpoint, "Titans of Tomorrow," and the "Legacy" arc from Bryan Hitch's run on Justice League that showed the heroes' offspring 20 years in the future.
Cyborg gives the heroes a pep talk, telling them it's time to step up their game and find that Nth Metal. They divide and conquer, but the Batman Who Laughs and Barbatos don't look too worried as the issue ends with the heroes rushing from the Rock of Eternity to the depths of the sea searching for what they need.
The issue ends with each of the heroes in the spot we last left them in the main Metal miniseries, ready for what happens next in December 20's Dark Nights: Metal #4.