Comics/Graphic Novels

#SuperheroProblems: So You’ve Been Thrown Into the Past

Eileen Gonzalez

Contributing Editor

Eileen's primary literary love is comic books, but she’s always on the lookout for her next literary adventure no matter what form it takes. She has a Bachelor's in media studies, a Master's in digital communication, a smattering of published short stories, and a seriously cute dog. Follow her on Bluesky.

You’d think superheroes would have enough crime to deal with in their own time periods. And yet, they keep finding ways to go back in time and find even more trouble. Sometimes they go skipping through time by accident, but just as often, they make the trip on purpose, either to stop some dastardly scheme or just for funsies.

So, just what is there to do if you’re a time-traveling superhero who has never read A Sound of Thunder? Consider some of the following options before you plan your next journey to the past/get kicked back a few centuries by a malevolent supervillain.

Punch Your Way Home

In America #1, America Chavez uses a friend’s time machine to cheat on her homework. She ends up shunting herself back to a World War II battlefield by accident. Whoops.

America immediately runs into Adolf Hitler and punches him, as one does. Not long after, she realizes that the time machine isn’t what sent her back: it was her own, previously unknown ability to punch holes in time. After punching some more Nazis, America punched her way back to school.

Tell Alexandre Dumas to Shove It

In Batman #32, the Dynamic Duo decides life is too boring for them (yes, that is their actual excuse for this) and goes to a hypnotist friend to send them back in time. They end up in the middle of The Three Musketeers.

Batman and Robin spring into action, coming to D’Artagnan’s aid (which isn’t very effective, as he ends up bedridden) and even rewriting the ending so D’Artagnan’s love interest survives. Long story short, Batman writes fan fiction, and that is a canonical FACT.

Go on Tour

When Red Skull arranged Captain America’s assassination, everyone naturally assumed poor ol’ Cap was dead. But, as revealed in Captain America: Reborn, Red Skull had trapped him in his own past, and Cap ended up reliving every battle and tragedy he’d ever experienced.

Cap’s chance for escape came when Red Skull finally pulled him back to the present and took over his body, trapping Cap’s consciousness in a tiny corner of his own mind. As you may imagine, Cap did not appreciate that and immediately set about beating the crud out of Red Skull, first mentally and then physically.

Defy the Laws of Man and God

In Flash #125, Barry Allen invents the cosmic treadmill, which allows him to use his superspeed to travel through time at will. This comes in handy when some aliens plant a device in Earth’s distant past which, in the present day, causes all atomic devices to stop functioning.

Barry duly dispatches Kid Flash to deal with the device. One hundred million years in the past, Kid Flash encounters a flock of hideous human/bird abominations that should never have seen the light of day. They do, however, help him destroy the device. Now Flash can use far-future atomic weapons to stop the aliens! Superman isn’t going to like that…

Make Yourself at Home

In Defenders #4, the Black Knight ran afoul of the Enchantress, who used her magic to leave him adrift in another dimension. By the time the Defenders came to his aid, he had been thrust into the 12th century Crusades. They all banded together to stop the evil King John and his allies.

In the end, rather than returning to 1973 with the Defenders, Black Knight declared that he found the distant past more alluring than toilet paper and television, and he chose to stay. In his defense, his soul had been bonded with that of a medieval ancestor, which may account for his professed comfort in a world without showers.

Previous #SuperheroProblems:

So Your Family Was Erased From Reality
So You’ve Been Retconned into a Scumbag
So You’ve Been De-Aged Against Your Will
So Your Best Friend Wants You Dead
So Your Girlfriend Is Also a Supervillain
So You Are Your Team’s Token Minority
So Your Gods Have Turned Against You
So Your Family Isn’t Dead After All
So You’re Old All of a Sudden
So You’re a Weird Animal Thing Now
So Your Secret Identity Isn’t So Secret