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The Top 10 Temporal Super Powers

Updated on October 17, 2013

What are the greatest Temporal Powers...

And which superheroes have them?

Just like the changing of the New Year and the paid respects to Father Time and Auld Lang Syne, part of being a superhero means an eventual brush with the times - Correction: An actual brush with the dimension of space-time in some form or another. It's a consistent plot throughout the....erm...eh...TIMES.

Picture: The Linear Woman is indifferent to human feelings, a trait those who immerse in the timestream seem to share. Excerpt from Timemasters: Vanashing Point #6 (2011).

But now it's time to go a step further; what about the heroes that make time part of their theme? Who are the ones that use temporal powers and skills to accomplish feats and missions with past and future? It appears few writers and conceptualists have made the distinction between the varied uses of the mastery of chronal energy.

This problem is about to be erased. In this Top 10 Countdown, you're going to be subjected to the most in-depth review of the catagories of temporal powers, including summaries of the heroes from DC and Marvel that make these effects work. Want to see a list of the different styles of time-using powers? Got it. Need a list of those superheroes? Got it. Before you finish this article, everything will be clear...this time.

Chronal Power #10: Precognitives and Powers with Temporal Anomalies - Because Superheroes are Always Weird

Destiny (A Precognitive), Slingshot, and Wither.
Destiny (A Precognitive), Slingshot, and Wither.

Sometimes, that's the point. And to introduce the avid Comic Book fan to time-using powers, it's best to start off with this category, where the primary power isn't necessarily the key, but the temporal side effect is, causing them to fit on this list.

In theory, then, these superheroes qualify because their super abilities seem to be using, or having...or causing, a temporal anomaly. It's not always their primary feat, but sometimes their offshoot consequence. Precognitives are also going to fit into this section; although their power allows them to see the future, their only way to change it is through natural action.

Destiny - Irene Adler is a precognitive. Her original appearance was Uncanny X-Men (1981) with the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, and later her status as a villain became less finite. One temporal side effect of her power became the ability to hit objects accurately; she could predict where to aim her crossbow and avoid a miss.

Slingshot - Yo-yo Rodriquez of Marvel Comics qualifies, but not because of her super speed. She can run real fast, but once she stops a temporal disturbance seems to pull her back to the original location. So far, there's been very little to explain it. Her first appearance was Mighty Avengers #13 (2008) and she later served with Nick Fury as one of his Secret Warriors

Wither - Kevin Ford, a mutant appearing a far back as New Mutants #3 (2003) has the ability to destroy organic matter by touch. Although the power is notably linked to death and dark forces, there's never been a true indication that it's anything other than the rapid, temporal acceleration causing the decay.

Note: If you locate a Temporal Side-Effect hero or Precognitive, please submit them in the Guest Book.

Chronal Power #9: Temporal Consciousness - The Heroes Thinking with Their Past And Future Selves

Blindfold and Timeslip, both superheroes with Temporal Consciousness
Blindfold and Timeslip, both superheroes with Temporal Consciousness

We've seen that the initial abilities to work with time are sometimes anomalous - meaning they don't always necessarily control chronology or alter the continuum. And more definitively, we've also delved into the those precognitive heroes that observe the future without actually being there. But now we're taking a deeper step into the temporal levels of power. This particular item on the list represents those superheroes, the ones that operate on multiple levels of time...at the same time.

Coined Temporal Consciousness, you'll find few good guys have the ability. In truth, this is a power that few would want; it's confusing and often as misleading and troublesome as it is clarifying. Those who fall under this phenomena carry similar traits: they talk in the past or future tense, even during the present, and they interact in the present as if they are in the past or future.The truth of feat is that this is what they are doing; superheroes with this power are operating in the past, present, and future at the same time.

It almost makes the brain explode. Or melt. To have this level of mental functioning means you're not simply observing event future (precognitive) or past (retrocognitive) events. You are there, living them at all times.

There are two noted heroes with Temporal Consciousness both happen to be mutants. And if you know of more, please be sure to speak up:

Blindfold, is the name of Ruth Aldine, and she first appears in Astonishing X-Men #7 (2005). Born without eyes, her consciousness constantly shifts through the timeline and includes some psychic ability to read thoughts and astrally project. As a side effect of her temporal power, she also appears immune to reality shifts that would alter timelines.

Timeslip, aka Rina Patel, is actually one of the older temporal mutants. First appearing in New Warriors #59 (1995), she originally had no idea what was going on because she was operating in her future. Not necessarily psionic, she also had limited time traveling ability and some ability to slow time.

Chronal Power #8: Unconscious Future Manipulation - Domino and Longshot

Domino, from the cover of X-Men #38 (2012)
Domino, from the cover of X-Men #38 (2012)

It's obviously interesting, and sometimes useful, to be active witness of your past and future; you can be an active participant in adventures before they occur (or reoccur) and make the information work for the present. But what can you really do about it? What "chance" do you have altering a timeline when you're mostly an observer? That's almost like being a prisoner to fate.

The answer to this dilemma is Unconscious Future Manipulation. This can also be called probability control, the ability to change your luck. Possibly another chronal-anomalous power, there are a lot of things going on in the background which link this to a form of time control.

Although it could technically be done in a number of ways (such as through magic) Unconscious Future Manipulation has been located in two mutants, Domino and Longshot, which suggests a psychic mutation capable of duplicating the effect. Based on research and some speculation, the explanation is that these two superheroes are unconsciously looking into the future (precognition or clairvoyance), and then causing random, also unconscious, telekinetic acts that benefit them during activation.

Domino, also known as Neena Thurman, is basically as lucky as you can get for a mutant. Her powers activate during stressful situations such as fighting, arguing, and pain elevation levels. According to reports, the occurrences are localized to her line of sight, suggesting that the future observation is only visual.

Longshot, on the other hand, is technically an engineered slave from Mojoverse, an alternate dimension. His powers are part of his genetic makeup, also psychic in nature, pushing him into the mutant category. According to his origin, the luck-manipulating power he has only works when he is doing something benevolent and innocent. If he were to turn evil, he'd be powerless.

Unconscious Future Manipulation is not directly a step up from Temporal Consciousness, but it deserves a higher spot on the list because of the indirect intervention with the near future.

Flashback, from Alpha Flight #8 (1985)
Flashback, from Alpha Flight #8 (1985)

Chronal Power #7: Temporal Summoning

Flashback

Marvel Comics, late in the 80's and early in the 90's, decided to play around with mutants having unique talents that could affect the temporal sphere; it was part of their "X-Men Explosion", a period where The Uncanny X-Men title, Wolverine, and mutants gained lots of popularity. (Just a note: DC Comics had their own special time-altering effect which involved many of their heroes, but you'll learn about that later.)

Mutants, therefore, have been leading the charge for time-affecting powers for many years. We've seen how some look into the future and some invariably alter it. Meanwhile, others are in mental contact with their future or past selves. So now it's time to move forward. And in that line of thinking, what could be the next weirdly, time-controlling ability is next?

Easy enough, his name is Flashback. Born Gardner Monroe, you may have not heard a great deal about him, but his power, a mutation of unique temporal quality, fits in a class all its own: Temporal Summoning. This is the ability to reach through the future (and potentially past) and have an object or person appear in the present.

This can also be labeled Temporal Connectivity, the important note is that somehow the hero is able to pull something out of the timeline and move it to present. Flashback, as the prime example, grabbed future versions of himself. First appearing in Alpha Flight #11(where his name was actually given) we learned that each copy of him was a future self. Where his costume was white with black, his other versions were black with white.

With Flashback's amazing power was the designer conceptualization of the disadvantages it might bring. Written in the Alpha Flight v3 (2004) series, Flashback, eventually, was going to be one of the future selves pulled backwards in time. The fear then become his eventual death, which occurred to one of his summoned travellers in Alpha Flight #28 (v1, 1985).

Sway, a Temporal Distorter can slow the rate of time.
Sway, a Temporal Distorter can slow the rate of time.

Chronal Power #6: Temporal Distortion

The Ability to Control the Rate of Time

As we move further into the aspects of time-changing powers and abilities, it's now a perfect spot for those people who are special in how time works around them. Known as Temporal Distortion, these powerful individuals technically move through the chronal sphere at a different rate of speed.

Picture: Sway, a temporal distorter, is shown here slowing the speed of missile fire.

The key to a Temporal Distorter is the magnitude of their control, or aura; that's how it's mostly portrayed in the comic books. In almost all cases, these superheroes projects a field where time slows down or speeds up in some way. In fact, this could be considered time-traveling, but the drawback is that it lacks the magnitude of moving across years, centuries, or millennium.

Three known superheroes have appeared with the Temporal Distortion ability:

Sway, Suzanne Chen, originally appeared in X-Men: Deadly Genesid #3 (2006) and had the ability to slow time as well has replay past images. According to the storyline, she could influence chronitrons and nearly bring time to a halt with a specific target or within a limited area of effect. She is believed to be dead at this time.

Tempo, Heather Tucker, first appeared in New Mutants #86 (1990). She was originally more of a villain (but didn't really have the demeanor or heart for it) and later often worked on behalf of mutants. With a greater degree of power, she could slow down or speed up time around her with deadly results. She is also believed to have been killed.

Velocidad, also known as Gabriel Cohuelo, is one of the newest superheroes to appear, but will unlikely be one for long. Gifted with the ability of super speed, he recently learned that his mutation is actually speeding up his localized temporal field. In other words, he isn't actually running faster, but moving through time faster. As a consequence, he is also aging faster, and therefore the more he uses his power, the older he gets. His first appearance was Uncanny X-Men #527 (2012).

Chronal Power #5: Temporal Displacement - Here and There...or Everywhere!

Gateway, from Uncanny X-Men #230 (1988)
Gateway, from Uncanny X-Men #230 (1988)

The 7th power was Temporal Summoning, the ability to call people from the timeline. The 6th power was Temporal Distortion, the changing of the rates of time. Now that we understand those incredible abilities, we can move along to the next awesome phase of our chronology: Temporal Displacement! Based on physics and the consensus that time and space are related, we're beginning to get into the real red meat of Time Control. It only follows that those who can manipulate time, also have a fundamental relationship to reality as we know it. (That's why we now call it the Time-Space Continuum.)

Dispacement means teleportation, and those who can temporally displace are able to teleport through time as well as space.

Slipstream, aka Davis Cameron, was a mutant capable of generating a "warp wave". The true extent of his abilities were never actualized, but he could blow a hole in reality and ride it to his next destination. In all likelihood, this Australian-born superhero - had he continued in his career before M-Day (The day almost all mutants were neutered) removed his powers - he would have evolved into a time-surfer. Davey's first appearance was X-Treme X-Men #6 (2001).

Gateway is another time-space teleporter, and -you guessed it - another mutant who has been associated with the X-Men for years. His first appearance was Uncanny X-Men #229 (1988), a silent, unnamed aborigine who used his bull-roarer to create dimensional rifts.

In the guises of Temporal Displacement, the key is the ability to teleport; once the hero starts moving across distances, the probability is that time travel is next. Please note, though, that not all teleporters are equal. For example, Nightcrawler, a popular figure of the X-Men, teleports by using a psionic link through the realm of Limbo, which doesn't correlate to this subject matter.

Chronal Power #4: The Speed Force - The Flash, Kid Flash, Impulse, et al.

excerpt from The Flash #97 (1995)
excerpt from The Flash #97 (1995)

Of all the powers related to time and its mastery, one concept has been so categorically profound and important, that it has become a central and reoccurring theme of their superheroes. Called The Speed Force, it's also become one of the most mysterious and hard to define.

For those of you familiar with it, The Speed Force is the underlying dimensional energy that powers The Flash, whether your referring to Jay Garrick (The Golden Age Flash), Barry Allen (The Original Flash), or Wally West (The Next Flash Incarnation). It also seems to be linked to every super-speedster in the DC Universe, which includes (or included): Jesse Quick, Johnny Quick, Max Mercury, Bart Allen (Impulse), Professor Zoom, Zoom, Savitar, and likely heirs of the Allen family yet to be born. Whether a stream of lightning-like force or a place that exists outside the realm of time, it has become the integral power that gives super-speed, allows vibrational intangibility, and gives the controller the ability to breach his current dimension and move through time.

But fast feet, rapid-punching, and these incredible feats are only a side effect of this power. In actuality, it has been revealed that the Speed Force is the guiding principle that governs time. This makes The Flash and all the other characters ambassadors of Time by association. And to a greater sense, it seems that The Flash is fundamentally bonded to it, giving him access to its miraculous gifts by a greater degree.

Whether traveling forward or backward in time, entering the dimension through vibratory relocation, or using simple super-speed, the Speed Force and those who use it are some of the greatest actors in the field of time. DC Comics has turned it into an upper-tier power and given it the potential for even greater temporal revelations.

The Complete Flash Catalog (Amazon)

Flash: Terminal Velocity (Flash (DC Comics))
Flash: Terminal Velocity (Flash (DC Comics))

For those interested in learning more about the Speed Force, one of the best sources, although dated from the 1990's, is Flash: Terminal Velocity. This Trade Paper-Back covers The Flash V2, #96-100. Written by Mark Waid, it goes into great clarity as many of the aspects of this dimensional power are learned by the heroes.

 

Chronal Power #3: Time Travel - Why Wait?

Iron Lad, Rip Hunter, and Hourman are all Time Travelers
Iron Lad, Rip Hunter, and Hourman are all Time Travelers

If there is one power that always fast forwards the clock and finds its way into the superhero universe, it's Time Travel, a power so uncanny that it's use will typically cause creative designers and writing teams to pull their hair out (if they have any left, of course). Oddly enough, it's also the most prevalent temporal power due to the extremely useful ways it can fix things that go wrong.

Most people are surprised when they find out how pervasive Time Travel is in the superhero world. And then when they think about it, it's obvious. Did Charles Xavier get killed in a villainous act? Is the world about to collapse because there is no Flash? Did the Justice League never exist? If there's ever a problem that seems so convoluted and complicated that the answer is near impossible...go back in time.

Reed Richards, aka Mr. Fantastic actually has stretching powers gained by Cosmic Rays, but since then, he's been worked on and developed technology that constantly sends the Fantastic Four into different times and dimensions (but you can thank Dr. Doom for much of it). In 2013, as part of Marvel NOW! the group will be doing just that to save their own lives.

Iron Lad is a young teenager (actually Nathanial Richards) who is visited by his future, villainous self called Kang the Conqueror. Deciding to alter course from evil, he adopts his own brand of Iron Man stylized gear and travels time often with The Young Avengers. (He first appeared in Young Avengers #1 2005.)

Although there is one other iteration of Hourman, the version relevant to this countdown is actually a sentient android from the 853rd century. (The previous Hourman, Rex Tyler, had no temporal powers.) A colony of intelligent nanite machines, it could access an "Hour of Power", where it could move through time and access most of the chronal powers.

Rip Hunter, first appearing in Showcase #20 (1950), is one of the oldest superhero time-travelers around. His expertise and genius is his power, developing the tools and technology to make moving through the timeline his specialty. An icon of DC Comics, he can be used as one of their typical tools for repairing an "irreparable" plot.

The Linear Men (which Rip Hunter also took part in) is another group of time-traveling companions bent on a mission of fixing chronal distortions and temporal paradoxes. Commissioned by DC Comics, they first appeared in Adventures of Superman #476 (1991) with members such as Travis O'Connell, Liri Lee, Rayak The Ravager, and Matthew Ryder.

Chronal Power #2: Time Immersion - What Happens When You Become A Part of Time?

Excerpt from Before Watchman Dr. Manhattan #2 (2012)
Excerpt from Before Watchman Dr. Manhattan #2 (2012)

Gifted to only a small handful of superheroes, there is one ability that transcends typical temporal abilities, going beyond the scope of human thought. It could have been number one on the list with its god-like qualities and paranormal traits, but lacking one additional power, it rests here nicely as the second greatest power of all Time: Time-Space Immersion.

Extremely uncommon, this is the ability to join the timeline. A hero of this magnitude seems omniscient and capable of moving through the timestream at will or appear, mentally or physically, at multiple times simultaneously. Because of this strange phenomena, Time-Space Immersion usually puts this hero in a state of evolution and transcendence, and can change their demeanor.

WaveRider aka Matthew Ryder is one such DC Comics superhero with Time-Space Immersion as his fundamental power. First appearing in Armageddon 2001 #1 (1991), he was later killed.

Later, Liri Lee would gain WaveRider's abilities when Black Beetle and The Linear Men fought over his corpse. Gaining the upper hand, she fused with his chronal matter and because known as The Linear Woman, seeming to have all the same abilities.

And finally, the one superhero gaining the most attention lately is Jon Osterman aka Dr. Manhattan. His fame started with Alan Moore's The Watchmen mini-series in 1986. One of the most enigmatic characters of the plot, Jon becomes so aware of time that he loses more and more of his connection to reality, eventually leaving the earth. His struggles become even more apparent in the 2012 series Before Watchmen.

Chronal Power #1: Reality Manipulation - When Time and Space Become Tools

Excerpt from Fantastic Four #604 (2012)
Excerpt from Fantastic Four #604 (2012)

Picture: One of those tiny specks among the Celestial Gods is Franklin Richards, and his mere presence is enough to threaten them.

After all the incredible powers demonstrated and available to superheroes in the timestream, you might have to wonder what could possibly be left to the imagination? Could there be any powers greater than the ones already explained? We've seen heroes who go back in time, call versions of themselves from the temporal future, react to chronal disturbances, and even mutants whose powers subconsciously cause chronal anomalies. So what's left?

Well here it is! In the final listing of temporal super powers, the number one greatest among them is the ability to bend, shape...twist, turn, and pull, the time-space continuum. It's best known as Reality Manipulation and it changes everything.

Gifted to very few individuals, this power has vast and incredible. And as to possibilities, only two heroes up to this point have shown us what it can do.

Manifold aka Eden Fasi, an Aborigine from Down Under, is able to move anyone, anywhere, and in any time. His humble beginnings initiated as a student of Gateway (previously mentioned). The extent of Eden's ability has yet to be tested, but it appears that moving into the past or future is as normal as walking up a series of steps. Eden started with Nick Fury's Secret Warriors, but as of recent, he is now on the Avenger's Roster.

The greatest of all currently known Reality Manipulators is Franklin Richards, son of Reed and Susan Richards of the Fantastic Four. He's been identified as an Omega-Level Mutant and has used his abilities to travel back and forth, meet with himself, and send enemies away. That's nothing, though. Franklin created his own "pocket universe" on one occasion, serving as an alternate reality; he even made Galactus his Herald in a battle against Celestial Gods.

With the appearance of superheroes of this magnitude, the Comic Book writers are taking on a heavy burden. It's always difficult to find challenges of a great magnitude for our protagonist while simultaneously making the character interesting. After all, when you have powers on this level, you could obliterate histories and realities without even trying.

Greetings!

Thanks for dropping by! One of the goals in these Countdown Lists is to do a lot of research and come up with some interesting information, hopefully summarized in a new, interesting way. If you've seen or heard anything pertaining to temporal powers, time-using superheroes, or anything that could be helpful, submit some of your own comment. Please feel free to sound off with your constructive criticism or opinions. All are welcome; just remember to be courteous because this is a free resource.

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    • BlakeCzirr profile image
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      BlakeCzirr 4 years ago

      @anonymous: Thanks for the comment! I have to agree with just about everything you said; when I began to research the superheroes, it was mostly "mutants" that filled the list. And I suspect it was due to that multitudes of them needing to be unique in some way. That said, DC might be the "smart player"; I've found that they've kept time-using heroes locked down tightly.

      In regards to Vandal Savage, you've made an extremely interesting point. After all, being immortal, or living outside of time's influence, is indirectly a temporal effect.

      I'll definitely be adding "immortality" to the list. I'll try to come up with it in the next week. Thanks greatly!

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      Nice write-up. While it seems a bit X-Men heavy, there aren't a lot of time-based characters in the DC universe. I'm wondering if immortality isn't some form of time-based power, though. Vandal Savage has millennia of accumulated wisdom and knowledge to draw from just simply from living that long. While he can't directly manipulate time, he's also outside its influence, which seems to be a unique power. Perhaps it should be an "also ran" power at number 11?