The Nearness of You
The idea of a massive continuity shake-up having very personal effects isn’t exactly new, but it’s always effective. Most famously, the Astro City story “The Nearness of You” features a man who suffers from an aching and a loss that he can’t explain, only for him to discover that his wife was erased from the timeline by a big superhero dust-up that resulted in massive sweeping changes to their worlds’ history. Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Gaydos played around a little bit with a similar concept in the Jessica Jones revival in the wake of Secret Wars, but never fully followed the thought through to completion.
It’s a scary thing to consider, and if the general public found out it could be a massive scandal. Look at how The Supermen Theory is being received in the pages of Doomsday Clock, and that isn’t even real. Imagine finding out that your life and you memories exist at the whim of cosmic forces like The Monitor, Extant and Doctor Manhattan. It’s enough to drive anyone mad, so if Wally West isn’t able to rescue his children from continuity limbo, he may just need the treatment a facility like Sanctuary has to offer.
Wally West isn’t the only superhero to have loved ones erased by the omnipotent hand of Doctor Manhattan. His close friend and Titans teammate Roy Harper had a child with Cheshire named Lian who died in the fall of Star City, but now never existed at all. And speaking of Titans, Donna Troy lost an ex-husband and a son to the whims of continuity. Green Arrow’s son Connor Hawke may be out there somewhere, but he never took up the mantle after his father’s death, and if he does exist, Oliver Queen doesn’t know about it. Aquaman has had a few kids in a few different continuities, Barry Allen himself lost his grandkids Bart Allen and Jenni Ognats, and there are plenty more characters out there who have entire families and histories that just don’t exist anymore... and they’re none the wiser.
As the mystery behind the missing continuity deepens in Doomsday Clock and series like Heroes In Crisis explores the effects of these revelations on the hero community, the characters of the DC Universe may be heading towards one giant, existential breakdown. What’s the point of anything if everything you do could be rewritten tomorrow? The heroes of the DC Universe have fought off the most dangerous monsters in the multiverse, but can they survive their own crippling sense of overwhelming ennui? Only time will tell, but don’t be surprised to see a somewhat broken Wally West show up through Sanctuary’s doors in the near future.