Friday, June 16, 2006

Dissecting the Rip Hunter Chalkboard (Part 1)

Spoilers ahoy!
My god, it's full of stars...

If nothing else, 52 is presenting us with all sorts of neat images to blow up and examine in detail. Booster Gold's visit to Rip Hunter's lab is chock full of clues, hints, and other oddities, not the least of which is why someone who built a time machine would still be using chalk.

I'll be looking at a couple of things from Dr. Hunter's lab, but I think the most interesting is the way it fuels speculation about the identity of Supernova.

One of the early theories about the mysterious character's identity, and my personal favorite, is that it's Lar Gand, alias Mon-El, Daxamite and former/future Legionnaire. I think the chalkboard has really boosted that line of thought. Here are some selected quotes from the board:
Um...Richard Rider, duh.

In case you can't read the quotes, they say:
  • Who is Super Nova?
  • Further time is different
  • Dead by lead?
  • What happened to the son of Superman?
  • Te versus (Au + Pb)
  • Find the last "EL"
  • Who is Super Nova?

Sure, I'm cherry-picking a bit. Supernova could be the Curry heir for all we know. But consider the above pieces. The second is almost certainly referring to the Legion, and the fact that it is different. What time in the DCU is further than the 31st century (besides the 853rd, of course)?
"Dead by lead" seems to be a reference to the Daxamites' fatal weakness to lead, which in various ages has led to Mon-El's imprisonment in the Phantom Zone until a cure is found in the 30th century.
Quote four asks about the "son of Superman," which could be throwaway, could refer to any number of Elseworld-style characters, could refer to Superboy (his ideological son, or it might even refer to Mon-El. After all, it was a young Clark Kent who christened the boy, and gave him the ability to live in a world filled with lead. Besides that, it's no secret that Mon-El was created to fill Superboy's void in the Legion.
The next quote refers to three elements. The ones in parentheses are Gold and Lead, respectively. Now we have decent reason to believe, based on editorial statements and solicitation covers, that Booster Gold and Super Nova will be at odds, at least at the beginning of their relationship. If "Au" refers to Mr. Gold, and "Pb," by way of his weakness, refers to Mon-El, then perhaps the "Dead by lead" quote refers instead to Booster, killed by "lead," aka Super Nova. That seems pretty unlikely, though, and doesn't really fit with the Au+Pb quote. Te, the other element in the equation, is Tellurium, atomic number (wait for it) 52. It derives its name from the greek word tellus, which is another word for Earth. DC trivia buffs know the word Tellus from another source, the '80s Legion of Super-Heroes.
Tellus everything you know. Ha! I kill me!

Yeah, that guy. Remember him?
In terms of the DCU, and ignoring for a moment DC One Million, Mon-El is the "last El" that we know, by virtue of being a resident of the 30th Century. Of course, this could also be referring to whoever ends the Kent lineage, but the scare quotes around El suggest that it is an applied name (as Mon-El's is) and not necessarily an inherited one.

So, what does this mean? I have a few ideas.
  • First, remember that Grant Morrison is into all sorts of crazy occultish alchemical stuff. In classical alchemy, lead and gold were at opposite ends of the spectrum. Lead was base and worthless, gold was desirable and rare, and the goal of alchemy was to transform one into the other. Putting Booster Gold at odds with someone associated with lead is a nice little classical flourish, and one that will probably get some time in the spotlight, if I know anything about Grant Morrison.
  • Okay, scenario one: Lar Gand arrives on Earth before his trip into the Phantom Zone, and thus before his lead weakness is cured. He dons a suit that covers him head to toe for protection from the harmful lead particles in the environment, and goes after Booster Gold in a classic sort of misunderstanding. Eventually, they work out their differences and team up, to battle against whatever is represented by "Te."
  • Second scenario: Mon-El ended up in our time through all the craziness associated with the Infinite Crisis. He learns that Booster Gold is responsible for the changes to the timestream and seeks to take him out. What he doesn't realize is that his time displacement only exacerbates the problem, and the Earth (tellus) is fighting against their presence.
  • I think that second one is the more likely of the two, but what if Tellus is the former Legionnaire, reinvisioned as a temporal bounty hunter, or a time-cop of some sort? Tellus was sent back from the distant future to kill/capture Booster Gold and Super Nova before their existence wiped out the future timestream as we know it.

Okay, so the case is kind of shaky, but I look forward both to Supernova's introduction and to the return of Mon-El, whether or not they are connected.

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Anonymous said...

Very interesting read - when will you be doing part 2?

Anonymous said...

What about Pb and Au being the Metal Men?

Perhaps the striking at the wall in Infinite Crisis caused the creation of Mon-El as the son of Superman, and that is the kid we see in the recent DC Nation page that has no comments about it?

Anonymous said...

like your style. Mon El. Yeah always liked him. could be. what about the possibility that super Nova is a version of Booster Gold himself from the new future created by the events of infinite crisis?