This article contains major spoilers for “Titans” #3, on sale now
Dan Abnett and Brett Booth’s “Titans” #3 continues the series’ exploration of Wally West’s erasure and return to the timestream, one of the central mysteries of DC Comics’ Rebirth. As the Titans battle techno-wizard Abra Kadabra, a longtime foe of the Flash family with a personal vendetta against Wally, the villain from the far future offers the most tantalizing clues yet as to who is responsible for the altered timeline. But can he be believed?
If he’s telling the truth, Kadabra is one of the central baddies of “Rebirth” — and also appears to be a direct descendant of Dr. Manhattan of Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ “Watchmen.”
“I wiped you from time and recollection”
Wally notes that Kadabra, unlike most of the people he’s encountered since his return, knows immediately who he is. The magician explicitly states that he was the one who erased Wally from the timestream. After the battle, though, while debriefing at a Keystone City pizzeria, both the Flash and Nightwing express doubts. So what are we to make of Kadabra’s claim?
He’s done this sort of thing before, after all. In the pre-“Flashpoint” timeline, Kadabra kidnapped Linda from her wedding to Wally and erased all memory of her from the timeline. Erasing the Flash may be more complicated, but it’s certainly within his power set.
But whereas erasing Linda was part of a plan to defeat Wally by removing his “anchor” that kept him from running headlong into the Speed Force, deleting the Flash himself runs a bit counter to Kadabra’s typical M.O. He can’t win fame for defeating a foe no one remembers, and his reaction to Wally’s reappearance isn’t that of a villain whose plan has gone awry. If Kadabra was indeed responsible for erasing Wally, it seems likely he was acting as part of some larger plan. Kadabra also says that the effort cost him a large degree of his powers (in addition to taking him out of the picture for the entire run of the New 52), once again suggesting that someone else put him up to it.
Kadabra has already acknowledged there is someone else altering the timeline, repeating last issue’s assertion that Wally and Linda should not have met yet and that “it’s… his handiwork, it can only be.” It was speculated last issue that “he” could be Wally himself, but here the villain explicitly says “this is not West’s doing.”
So who is he working for, then? Or who is working against him? And most importantly…
Is Kadabra a descendant of Dr. Manhattan?
Oh, boy. So much hinges on a pocket watch. Kadabra first pulls out the timepiece during his line about “his handiwork.” Is this the clue? Or is the major reveal on the next page, when Kadabra’s blood drips onto the pocket watch’s face? Because these back-to-back scenes offer very different and possibly contradictory interpretations.
The not-at-all subtle implication is that the watch is the same one Dr. Manhattan meditated upon at the end of “Watchmen.” Is Jon Osterman Kadabra’s great-great-great-great-grandfather? Is that enough “greats” to reach from the late 20th century to Kadabra’s home of the 64th, even accounting for extended lifetimes one might expect from such a genealogy? If true, what would this imply about Kadabra’s powers and how far they extend? He’s long been described as a villain whose futuristic technology looks like magic, but what if that advanced science stems less from 64th century tech than his ancestor’s own research and nuclear biology?
Also significant, as Kadabra ponders his timepiece, he does not connect this rumination with the “him” behind the changed timeline. This would suggest that Dr. Manhattan is not the one pulling the strings behind “Rebirth” as initially assumed, or if he is, that Kadabra is not aware of his involvement. This lends credence to the theory that Mr. Oz, the mystery figure manipulating events behind the scenes in the Superman titles whom fans theorize is “Watchmen” antagonist Ozymandias, is in fact the mastermind behind the new universe.
“The Speed in him… it has changed”
Outside of “Rebirth” stuff, Kadabra’s evil Kid Flash doppelganger states that the true Wally’s connection to speed “has changed,” that he’s now “tapped into an even deeper level of the infinite Speed Force.” How did he achieve this, and was it intentional? We still don’t have a clear picture on Wally’s perspective during his time out of time, but from his struggle to return to reality in the “Rebirth” one-shot, it would seem that his agency was limited; was this extra boost of speed what finally allowed him to break through? If so, where did it come from?
Also in this issue, Wally tells Linda he may not be the Flash, but he’s “a Flash.” Clever line, and possibly the first instance of him addressing his current costumed Rebirth identity.
“Titans” #3 is on sale now.
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