"Rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated" might be the most famous quote from the most quotable American ever born (Mark Twain).
It's common enough that it appeared just last night on Arrow and has likely been used at least once more in the current crop of CW/DC Comics TV shows, if you dig around and find the lines.
And it might just end up being used again -- by Rip Hunter (Arthur Darvill) on DC's Legends of Tomorrow.
It's hardly a stretch to suppose that Rip Hunter -- the former Time Master who seemingly sacrificed himself in the Legends of Tomorrow season 2 finale -- will be back by the end of the season. It's science fiction, so no body means in all likelihood there was no death.
An interesting element occurred to us today while watching "The Justice Society of America," though -- that's the second episode of this new season.
Early on in the episode, the Legends relate the story of how they had been talking with Rex Tyler when he suddenly "glitched" out of existence and vanished. While the rest of the crew of the Waverider looked baffled in the flashback, Rip instead looked queasy.
Later, the audience learned that the cause of the "glitch" was that the Reverse-Flash had traveled back to 1942 and murdered Tyler, meaning that his attempts to alert the Legends of the danger to themselves in that year were interrupted by the fact that he would not, in fact, live long enough to really deliver the message.
(The rules of time travel in the DC Universe, and on Legends of Tomorrow, are a little wonky. One has to assume that this works in the same way that Eobard Thawne was alive right up until the moment Eddie Thawne killed himself -- and Eddie's suicide didn't create a wave of changes that altered time, prevented Eobard's birth and thus the need for Eddie to die, and on and on.)
At any rate, that realization -- that Rip knew something was up when nobody else did, and kept silent about it -- got us to thinking.
Back in 2006, DC Comics was publishing a year-long event series titled 52. Like the TV series 24, it was named for the number of installments it featured. The comic shipped weekly and the events contained inside of it unfolded more or less in real time -- a rarity for DC or Marvel, who have rolling, compressed timelines to make it so that their characters aren't constantly getting too old and retiring.
The conceit of 52 was that with most of the DC Universe's biggest names out of action for a year, B- and C-list heroes had to pick up the slack. One such hero was Booster Gold.
Booster is from the 25th Century, where he was a college athlete disgraced in a gambling scandal. With nothing left to live for in his own time, he stole some high-tech equipment from a museum and traveled back in time to the 20th Century to make a name for himself as a superhero by fooling people into believing the things he could do becuase of his future technology were in fact powers.
In addition to saving lives and joining the Justice League, Booster shilled products and for a time featured sponsor patches on his superhero costume. His crass sense of humor and get-rich-quick schemes often led people to believe he was less capable than he really was -- although as a time traveler, he maintained a pretty good relationship with Rip Hunter.
When Skeets -- a robot from the future that kept Booster constant company and monitored history texts for crises the hero could avert -- started to remember things incorrectly, it became clear time was not flowing the way it should. Booster sought out Rip Hunter's help to try and figure out what it was and what had caused it -- but Rip was way ahead of him.
Skeets had been infiltrated by a villain who wanted to manipulate Skeets's past to impact the world's future -- but not for the public good or even for the money, like Booster. Instead the villain was pushing a malevolent agenda that had to be stopped.
Of course, we weren't told any of that right away. No, Booster left Rip's lab and told Skeets, who had waited outside, that Rip was looking into it for them. Booster, who had recently been publicly disgraced, was struggling to retain his sponsors and good standing, so he and Skeets sought out a good deed to do.
A nuclear sub, it turned out, was going to detonate in midtown Metropolis that day. While Booster thought this sounded like a preposterous scenario, he trusted in Skeets and the two made their way to the location where, sure enough, a giant monster was dragging around a beached sub.
As the sub went into meltdown, Booster redirected the energy from his force fields to contain the blast and, in the process, died heroically (see right).
Supernova, a mysterious new hero who had been quietly going about his work and stealing Booster's spotlight, was there to watch, and carried Booster's dessicated, skeletal remains down to Skeets.
Later, of course, it would turn out that the whole thing was a ruse: using the sub as a distraction, Booster and Rip Hunter figured out a plan to get Booster off the chessboard without Skeets and the villain who was controlling him being any the wiser.
By "killing" Booster, it would in fact free him up to act behind the scenes. Traveling back in time, Booster took on a new costume and became Supernova, helping to sell his own bit by first undermining himself and then retrieving the body -- which would match Booster's DNA becuase it was, in fact, Booster's body moved there from the future, long after his death.
Why is all of this significant? Well, we bet some of you have figured it out already.
Booster Gold used Rip Hunter's expertise about the timestream, along with his own duplicity (using "Supernova" to keep an eye on Skeets while Skeets wasn't paying attention to him) to eventually stage a triumphant return that allowed Booster and Rip to literally save he multiverse from extinction.
That flicker of recognition in tonight's episode was Rip's moment of clarity, realizing he could use his expertise about the timestream to his benefit. The Nazi submarine with a nuclear warhead is the nuclear submarine in midtown Metroplis. And Rip doesn't even need to infiltrate the team from the outside to keep tabs on what's happening on board the Waverider and throughout time -- he's got Gideon.0comments
It always seemed reasonably likely that Rip Hunter had staged his death to make an escape for reasons unknown. Tonight, without saying a word, Hunter may have given us a pretty good guess as to what those reasons were.
DC's Legends of Tomorrow airs Thursday nights at 8 p.m. ET/PT on The CW.