With the CW's Crisis on Infinite Earths event raging through television screens, it’s fun to look at not only the original maxi-series the storyline is named after, but other instances where the DC heroes crossed over with time-displaced versions of themselves! From Zero Hour to random blips in the timestream, DC’s long history has a way of bumping into itself throughout time and space. Let’s look at the five wildest examples and see how each character dealt with such strange happenings.
Classic Robin Meets Modern Robin
In Robin #10 during the Zero Hour event, Tim Drake is in pursuit of a jewel thief named The Weasel. In the middle of a brawl, he’s suddenly assisted by the original Boy Wonder – a much younger Dick Grayson. Rather than keep the details of the cross-dimensional goings-on secret, Tim tells Dick about how he came to the future, and the two team up together to find The Weasel. Throughout the issue, writer Chuck Dixon demonstrates what separates the two teen heroes more than just the addition of long pants. Even at an age younger than Tim, Dick is a more natural acrobat and just as confident in his training and abilities. He even checks Tim when the latter’s ego threatens to get the better of him. Conversely, Tim’s more modern gadgets and technology give him the edge in crime fighting, but it’s his famous detective skills that deduce the whereabouts of The Weasel in the end. Impressed with his future successor, the first Boy Wonder proclaims “I can see how you got the job, Robin.”
Superman and the Many Batmen
While Tim was getting acquainted with the Robin who started it all, over in Superman: The Man of Steel #37 Metropolis’ hero was beset with a serious bat infestation. Wanting to pool their information on the slips in the timestream, Superman and Batman meet up to compare notes – only for Superman to run into a Caped Crusader that’s he’s not quite familiar with. This Batman chides him for his “hippie” hair and speaks in outdated language. The two are then approached by another Dark Knight – this one bulky and gray and suspiciously like the one in Dark Knight Returns. Soon the Man of Steel is beset with a bevy of Batman from many dimensions, including the Bob Kane designed Golden Age version, the Dick Sprang Silver Age hero, the “New Look” variety by Carmine Infantino and a more modern, long-eared 90s version. Eventually – with the help of Professor Hamilton – Superman is able to get all of the Batman back to their own timelines and meet the real one, but by the end of the day he’d probably had his fill of grumpy detectives dressed in variations of black and blue.
Earth's First and Latest Green Lanterns
In Green Lantern #100, Kyle Rayner met a time-displaced Hal Jordan – specifically a freshly minted, new-to-the-job Hal Jordan. He’d only recently been made a Green Lantern and had yet to go on several adventures with the Justice League and the other members of the Corps. So the natural thing for Kyle to do was inform Hal of his dark future as the villain Parallax, right? Not so much, as the shock of information nearly destroyed the man’s sanity. He lashed out at Kyle, destroying the monument made in his honor and flew off in grief. Kyle chose to wait him out, trusting that the man Hal used to be would know to do the right thing. His trust was well founded, as Hal saved a bus full of disabled schoolchildren from an oncoming train. He may’ve become a villain in the distant future, but at the then-present, he was still a righteous hero.
The Tomorrow Titans
In Teen Titans #17, the Titans find themselves ten years into the future and are confronted by a darker reality than one they’d expected. For one thing, the future Titans – comprised of Batman (Tim Drake,) Superman (Conner Kent,) Wonder Woman (Cassandra Sandsmark,) Animal Man (Gar Logan,) Dark Raven and Aquawoman – are borderline evil, torturing and killing their enemies to justify making the world a better place. Bat-Tim in particular has mass graves of Batman’s rogues gallery and uses the gun that killed Thomas and Martha Wayne. Horrified by what they may become, the Teen Titans are rescued by Titans East of the Future – a rebellion team made up of the future Cyborg and other heroes. They inform the younger Titans that sticking together – not breaking apart – is what will save the future. They help the team return to their natural timeline, but not without some PTSD. Robin and Superboy took to seeing their future versions the worst, and promised to stay friends no matter what darkness comes their way.
Old Supergirl meets New Supergirl
In the final issues of the 1996 Supergirl series, Linda Danvers encounters a younger, vibrant iteration of the Girl of Steel in a rocket ship not unlike the one depicted in her Silver Age appearance. This Kara Zor-El was indeed the Pre-Crisis version, sent across dimensions by the cosmic being The Fatalist. Although Linda had taken to training Kara in how to be a hero, the Spectre (Hal Jordan) soon arrived and informed her that Kara was destined to sacrifice her life in the Crisis. Linda ended up switching places with Kara, traveled to Pre-Crisis DC and eventually married that world’s Superman, giving birth to a daughter named Ariella. Ultimately, such changes to the course of time couldn’t stand to Linda returned to her Earth and traded back with Kara, then retired from the role of Supergirl as she felt she didn’t live up to the heroic image held up by her Silver Age counterpart.