WARNING: The following article contains major spoilers for Multiple Man #4, by Matthew Rosenberg, Andy MacDonald, and Tamara Bonvillain, on sale now!
Playing with time lines can have dire consequences in fiction. It can lead to a character’s premature demise or erase them from reality all together by having them almost make out with their own mom (gross, Marty). However, comic books, specifically superhero titles, don’t seem to worry too much about paradoxes or anything tangentially related to the quantum mechanics of time travel in stories of journeying to the past to fix the future.
While the stakes in comic book time travel tales are often just as dire as any other story in a different medium, they don’t let themselves get hemmed up by the scientific minutia. To quote Bruce Willis in the film Looper, “This time travel crap just fries your brain like an egg...” This should probably be the mantra for superhero time travel stories.
Time travel stories featuring the X-Men, in particular, have a devil may care attitude about the platitudes of disrupting the placidity of past, present and future for quite some time. While one could argue a story like “Days of Future Past” played things pretty close to the chest in terms of balancing the cause and effect of time travel, very few stories since have handled things with the same care.
This, however, is not necessarily a bad thing. Sometimes tossing out the rules and just winging it makes for some great storylines and can integrate characters who had only existed in one timeline into the main X-Men Universe continuity. Matthew Rosenberg and Andy MacDonald’s miniseries Multiple Man is shaping up to be one of these stories. However, the trajectory of Jamie Madrox’s poor decision-making does have us wonder if the world would have been better off if Multiple Man had stayed dead.