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Stable Time Loop / Comic Books

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  • Maybe the best example is given by Universal War One: the whole plot is based on not one, not two but three nested stable loops, without any Plot Hole.
  • Subverted in Calvin and Hobbes. It's 6:30 and Calvin doesn't want to do his homework, so he decides to Time Travel forward to 8:30. Then he can pick up the now-finished homework, bring it back to 6:30, and goof off the rest of the evening. But it doesn't work. There's no homework to pick up at 8:30 because Calvin never actually did the homework — he went time traveling instead.
    • The best part came, of course, when they BOTH decided to go after 7:30 Calvin, because he was the one who was supposed to be doing it. That didn't work either.
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  • In The Invisibles, Gideon is introduced to The Invisible College by an elderly Edith Manning, who recognises him as a time traveller from her youth. After entering the college, he is taught to Time Travel, which results in him going back and meeting her as a young woman...
  • The elves in ElfQuest are only on the planet because their alien ancestors ("the coneheads," later termed "the High Ones") were attracted by the human tales of elven beings. The coneheads shapeshifted into elven beings and turned their spacecraft into a palace, then, as they were landing, were flung back to the caveman days, where all their powers stopped working and they were nearly killed. The few survivors founded some cultures that became the elves that begat the stories that prompted the coneheads to attempt to land in the first place.
    • Later on, the magic-user Rayek attempts to stop the event that flung the High Ones into the past. It's pointed out that those who were born as a result of this event would cease to exist should he succeed, but he doesn't care (except, it seems, for the few he knows personally). He's talked out of it by the three people most dear to him, who choose to suffer the same fate as the planet; as Rayek can't bring himself to erase them, he stands aside and lets the event happen as it already has.
    • His plan, more specifically, was to merge the two magical spaceships (the actual one and the one that took The Slow Path for 10000 years) and prevent the time loop by making the spaceship stable through the power of applied Object Paradox.
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  • In the Marvel Universe, Cable was infected by a techno-organic virus by Apocalypse, who, it is revealed later, got the virus in the past from Cable.
  • Superman:
    • In the Elseworlds book Superman: Red Son, it's revealed that Superman was sent back in time as a baby, because Lex Luthor was the ancestor of Jor-L, and therefore Krypton is actually Earth in the future. That might explain why the Red Son-verse doesn't have Kryptonite.
    • Ironic in that Jor-L sends his son to the past, as opposed to another planet, because he dislikes how placid humanity has become. Humans think they've learned all there is to learn and now just "have nothing left to do but wait and die". Jor-L hopes that sending his son to the past will change that. However, the antagonism between Superman and Lex Luthor is what inspires Luthor to engineer the Golden Age Jor-L hopes to avert.
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    • In one story, Superman is shown a vision of the future, and sees a superhero codenamed Sirocco (which means The Desert Wind in Persian). Later, when Superman visits Iran and befriends Sirocco's present self, he accidentally calls him by that name. The man says the name is cool and asks Supes if he can use it for his codename.
      Superman (thinking): And there you go, I've created a temporal paradox. A minor one, I hope.
    • The whole reason for Imperiex's existence during Our Worlds at War is that the multiverse is flawed, so he seeks to destroy everything to re-create it. As a force of nature, he can't be destroyed: to wit, when he seems defeated, his energy was merely absorbed by Brainiac, who then starts a plan to assimilate the universe with that power. Superman has a huge problem: If he destroys Brainiac, Imperiex gets free and can "hollow" the multiverse. But if he leaves Brainiac be, the multiverse will be assimilated. What does Superman do? He arranges for a Time portal to be opened and pushes Brainiac/Imperiex (who are the size of a PLANET) into it, taking them to... a milisecond after the Big Bang. Their essences get in the way of nature, forming our flawed multiverse instead of the "perfect" one that should have been, but making sure that neither is a problem from there on out in the present. Imperiex thus gets to realize the irony of its entire existence the instant before his "death".
    • One Bronze Age Superman story featured Kristen Wells, a researcher from the future who traveled back in time to find out who the mysterious superhero "Superwoman" was. Unable to find her anywhere, she eventually realizes it was she herself, so she puts on the Superwoman costume and uses future technology to do all the superheroic feats that future history books claim Superwoman did.
  • In Supergirl: Cosmic Adventures in the 8th Grade, alternate Supergirl (Supragirl from now on) travels to the 30th century where she meets Supergirl, who loans Comet the Superhorse to Supragirl. Then Supragirl goes back in time, and leaves Comet. Supergirl adopts him as her pet and ten centuries later she meets Supragirl and loans her horse to her alternate self before Supragirl goes back in time.
  • The original Legion of Super-Heroes seems to be an example of this—they were inspired by Superboy, and they make him a member and have him fight alongside them, arguably shaping him into the hero who inspired them. Also, a Bronze Age story showed Brainiac 5 was already a Legionnaire before Superboy. Thing is, Brainiac joined together with Supergirl. So the Legion went back in time to get Superboy joining them because Supergirl told them they were meant to befriend him.
  • The final pages of Ultimate Fantastic Four #53 show that Reed sends his Cosmic Cube back in time 30,000 years to the planet Acheron, where Thanos finds it, which precipitated his rise; when he lost it, he influenced Reed to create it.
  • In Tales from the Bully Pulpit, Teddy Roosevelt gets help from the "Teddy of thirty minutes from now" (a reference to the Bill & Ted example below). At the end of the story, the main characters remember to go back and fulfill the time loop before going off on their adventures.
  • In Amazing Spider-Man Annual #20, Arno Stark, the Iron Man of 2020, has developed a time machine that received military backing by an atomic bomb project that he is also developing. An anti-war terrorist locks up Iron Man's wife and son in the laboratory which contains the bomb, but is killed by Arno soon afterward. To defuse the bomb, Arno uses his time machine to go back to the 1980s to get the terrorist's retina patterns. In doing so, though, Iron Man becomes involved in a fight with Spider-Man which results in the child becoming scarred — giving him the motivation against Iron Man in the first place. It gets worse... Not only did Arno not get the retina scan he needed (the scanner was destroyed in the fight), he is suddenly returned to the future, only to discover that the bomb had detonated prematurely and killed his family.
  • Alan Moore's Supreme has two stable time loops, one forming the main plot of the initial plot arc, and a second in a single issue as a comic parody of the trope. It's strongly implied that the mysterious "Supremium" substance that both originally gave Supreme his powers and acts as his "Kryptonite" is what all time-looped matter eventually becomes.
  • Larry Hama's Nth Man: The Ultimate Ninja is entirely encircled by a time loop. Throughout the series, it is revealed that John Doe and Alfie O'Megan were left as infants at an orphanage by a screaming, burning woman. In the final issue, they realize they're part of a never-ending time loop, and must go back in time to avoid a paradox. As the two step through the time portal (reverting to infants in the process), they're followed by John's girlfriend. However, because she was being born at the same time, she cannot exist in two places simultaneously and begins to self-immolate.
  • 52 has two of them in the Booster Gold plot line. One of them has Booster fake his death and then travel back in time a few weeks so he can become Supernova and drive Booster to the actions which lead him into the Loop. The other has Booster send Mister Mind back through time after forcing him back into his larval form, to the point where he was discovered by Doctor Sivana who imprisoned him until he was forced to infect Skeets, starting the loop over. Both were created due to the actions of Rip Hunter.

    Rip Hunter himself is also a stable time loop: he reveals that he's Booster Gold's son, who only will come into being because Rip Hunter drafts Booster Gold into his current job as secret protector of the timeline.
  • The Flash:
    • Flash: Rebirth has used this to retcon the origin of the second Flash's powers. That lightning bolt that struck Barry in the first place? Caused by his future self and successor, stopping a psychopath speedster from killing Barry's Love Interest in the past.
    • Secret Origins Annual #2 from 1988 features a similar origin for Barrh, by showing that the lightning bolt that gave Barry his powers was really Barry himself, having been turned into energy and traveling backwards in time after defeating the Anti-Monitor.
    • This is also a key part of the third Flash's history. Wally West (who was also the first Kid Flash) was raised by very strict parents, and saw superheroes as a sort of escape, his favourite hero being the second Flash. He remembers a relative, who he thinks was an uncle or cousin, talking to him at a particularly low point after his dad had berated him. This guy told Wally that his parents want the best for him and are just afraid to dream, and that if he kept pushing through, all his dreams would come true. He thinks it was kind of sad that he just believed every word this guy said, but notes that he had pretty shitty parents. When Wally is flung through time, he ends up at that same family gathering and decides to find out who the guy was. Turns out, it was him. He tells his younger self that everything will turn out great, and leaves him a sketch of what would become the first Kid Flash costume.
    • Revealed to be part of the history of Eobard Thawne, the Reverse-Flash, in the storyline The Return of Barry Allen; Thawne was originally a fan of the Flash who went to great lengths to give himself Barry's powers and go back in time to meet his hero, only to arrive in the past when Wally West, Barry's successor, was the Flash, and learn of his destiny to become Professor Zoom while exploring the Flash Museum (the villain's true identity having been hidden from history to prevent Thawne learning of his fate). The trauma of this discovery causes Thawne to develop a psychotic break, briefly convincing himself that he is Barry Allen to escape his destined death, and while the conclusion of the storyline implies that Thawne will lose all memory of his time in the past, Wally and his allies speculate that Thawne's suppressed memories of his destined death are the reason for his future vendetta against Barry.
  • In The New Universe, it is revealed that the Old Man is an older Ken Connell, who was thrown back in time and, thanks to the power of the Star Brand, lived for centuries before accidentally initiating the White Event and giving his younger self the Brand.
  • One Radioactive Man comic from the 1960s features a villain being sent back to the 1860s via a Trans-spatial Stair Climber. When a damaged robot appears out of thin air, he repairs it and programs it to kill Radioactive Man before placing it in a time capsule due to be opened in 100 years time. At the end of the comic, the robot is damaged by Radioactive Man before being hit by Dr. Broom's Time Machine Gun — and sent back to 1863. When Fallout Boy wonders about who built the robot in the first place, Radioactive Man reminds him that "we were dealing with two renegade scientists tampering with time travel, and that's a pair o' docs better left alone."
  • The Uncle Scrooge story, "Of Ducks, Dimes, and Destinies," features Scrooge's nemesis Magica DeSpell travelling back in time to steal Scrooge's legendary number one dime. The man who was supposed to pay Scrooge the dime for a shoeshine decides to go out for a drink after Scrooge passes out shining his ridiculously muddy shoes. Magica intercepts the man and steals the dime, only to realize that since she stole it before it was given to Scrooge, it is no longer the first coin earned by the world's richest man (the last component she needs for a spell to create an amulet that can turn things into gold). Magica winds up giving the dime to an unconscious Scrooge, completing the loop.
  • She-Hulk once dealt with a rather complicated one for her law firm. The case: A billionaire named Charles Czarkowski shot an unarmed man (dubbed "John Doe"), in the back, in broad daylight, in front of a dozen eye-witnesses, and it was caught on film. Czarkowski claimed that before the shooting he received a message from the future warning that John Doe was destined to shoot him, and Czarkowski shot him in self-defense. Fearing for his life when a time-robot attacked the courtroom, Czarkowski traveled through time, used a DNA scrambler to alter his appearance, and tried to send a message back in time to warn his past self. But when he saw his altered face in the mirror he realized that he was John Doe all along. The message he sent to warn himself accidentally implicated his future self in the murder of his past self. Then the Time Variance Authority showed up and forced Czarkowski to go back in time again and get shot to maintain the time loop. On the plus side, the TVA had to drop the attempted murder charge against him.
  • Marvel Zombies turns out to be this in Marvel Zombies Return.
  • Robo finds himself in one of these in Atomic Robo and the Shadow from Beyond Time, where three future versions of Robo instruct him to learn the hell out of hyperdimensional mathematics so he can return to that point in time-space to defeat the Eldritch Abomination they're fighting. It's not a true Stable Time Loop, of course, because Robo is very insistent that there's no such thing as time travel.
  • When Sonic the Comic did an adaptation of Sonic the Hedgehog CD (a game where time travel is one of the main mechanics), it pulled off a loop so neat that, in the last part of the story, they could reprint an unedited page from an earlier issue and have it make perfect sense and not seem like laziness on the part of the writer or artist. (The first time the page appeared, the audience perspective is that of present Sonic; the second time, we're following future Sonic, who's been shrunk.)
  • In H-E-R-O, this is the fate of the HERO dial. At the end of the series, it gets thrown back in time, where it's found by its very first user, who featured in a Whole Episode Flashback earlier in the series.
  • Thor's grandfather, Bor, was defeated in battle against Frost Giants. He did not expect them to use magic, and therefore wasn't protected when a sorcerer cursed him and turned him into living snow. He told his son, Odin, to find a stronger sorcerer and undo the curse, but Odin stalled for years. When Thor was born, Odin noticed he had Bor's eyes, and was ridden with guilt when Bor's spirit came to him and told him he'd be forgiven if he adopts a child whose father he'd kill in his next war. As it happens, Odin's next war was against Frost Giants as well, and the child whose father he killed was Loki. Thus was Loki adopted as an Asgardian. The truth is Loki was the sorcerer who turned Bor into living snow. He returned back in time to do that, and then he appeared to Odin as Bor's spirit and told him to adopt the child. Then he went to his younger self and instructed him exactly what to do and say so to incite war between the Frost Giants and the Asgardians, so he'd be adopted as an Asgardian and become the man he's today.
    • Journey into Mystery brings us a whole new one, once again involving Loki. The reincarnated Kid Loki meets Leah as Hela's handmaiden. He proceeds to write a character based on her into the past of the Serpent. Later, Hela's hand is healed, Leah (having been Hela's literal handmaiden) disappears, and Hela makes a cryptic comment to Loki about how everyone believes he is her father. When Surtur tries to burn the Nine Realms he recruits the girl Loki wrote into the Serpent's past, as she resents Loki for not giving her any chance to grow. Loki rewrites the girl's story so that she becomes the Leah that he knew. Then things happen in such a way that he ends up asking Hela to send the new Leah to a place as far away from him as possible. Hela sends Leah to the distant past, and reveals to the readers that she is Leah, all grown up.
  • In a Thunderbolts storyline, the team was sent back in time, encountering the original group, back when they were still villains posing as heroes. Fixer's past self learns of his future, decides he's a total loser, and tries to change things. Fixer tries to stop him, inadvertently killing him. This, along with the present T-Bolt's base being in the past too long, results in the unraveling of time. In order to fix things, Fixer has his appearance and DNA altered so he looks just like his young self, and stays in the past. The past Thunderbolts' memories are erased (including Fixer's), and the present Thunderbolts return home. Songbird points out at one point that Fixer is now fated to go round and round in time, forever more.
    • Despite all this, Fixer managed to reappear in the crossover event Avengers Standoff!, raising many questions as to how he escaped the time loop. However, in the new Thunderbolts ongoing, it turned out that his escape was pulled by childlike Reality Warper Kobik. In addition, Fixer didn't even remember the loop until Kobik restored his memories.
  • The climax of the Doctor Who Magazine comic strip "Hunters of the Burning Stone" strongly implies that the imprinting of the TARDIS on the human psyche influenced the design of the London Metropolitan Police Box, which the TARDIS would then by chance imitate and suffer Shape Shifter Mode Lock as shortly after the Doctor began his travels.
  • In the Doctor Who (Titan) Fourth Doctor miniseries, the Lamp of Chronos turns out to be a time-looped artifact with no origin.
  • In X-Factor it is revealed that the origins of Longshot and Shatterstar, two characters from different centuries in the Mojoverse, work this way. During a battle, the demon lord Mephisto blasted Shatterstar into the Mojoverse's past. There he was studied by the scientist Arize, who used his genes to create Longshot. Many years later, Longshot would marry Dazzler, a human mutant and father a child with her — Shatterstar himself. The time-traveling Shatterstar took his infant self, and erased Dazzler and Longshot's memories of his birth. He and his partner Rictor then took the infant a century into the future to be raised as a gladiator and play out Shatterstar's life as he remembered it.

    It is notable that this is not the first instance of this occurring in the Mojoverse, as a human stuntwoman from Earth, "Ricochet" Rita Wayword, is turned into the warrior-sorceress Spiral in the Mojoverse's future and then sent back into the past to serve an earlier version of Mojo and ultimately facilitate her own transformation into Spiral. Unlike many other dimensions in the Marvel Universe, the Mojoverse does not spawn alternate timelines easily (because it's a "pocket dimension" that's directly tied to the main Marvel Universe; most alternative timelines have their own attached Mojoverse), making such stable time loops possible there.
  • In Next Men, the villain Sathanas goes back in time to 1955 and gives Senator Aldus Hilltop the means to create Project Next Men, which is designed to create superhumans. At one point, Hilltop has sex with Jasmine (one of the Next Men) and gains the same life-draining power that Sathanas had. He then realizes that he has become Sathanas himself.
  • A number of Alan Moore's "Time Twisters" strips for 2000 AD were stable time loops, for instance "Chrono-Cops", in which the two Time Police officers interact with themselves on a number of occasions, but it all fits together in the end. And "Ring Road", in which a young woman in 1935 attacks an old woman who stops to give her a lift and steals her car. She finds herself inexplicably driving forward in time, through the 20th century, the post-apocalyptic era, and then through a fog bank to prehistory and eventually back to the 1930s. Just as things start looking familiar again, she sees a young woman, and stops to give her a lift...
  • In More Than Meets the Eye, Brainstorm decides it would be neat to build a time machine to save his old crush from dying in a POW camp, and sells information to the 'cons to fund his lifelong project. Later, he decides it would be even BETTER to try stopping the war from happening at all. Of course, this is impossible because if the 'cons didn't exist, he couldn't sell himself to them to fund the project, but 'impossible' has never been a word in his vocabulary. So he goes back in time, but is closely followed by the crew of the Lost Light, who think he wants to kill Optimus Prime because he funded his project through the 'cons. It starts with a huge Energon fluctuation in a mine where Brainstorm first checks in on the past causing an evacuation during which Megatron loses his mentor, but there are other loops too, such as...
    • ...an adult Rodimus time-travelling to the Hot-Spot where his own spark spawned because Optimus Prime was checking out the Hot-Spot flare up caused by the time travel, and because he was there, he helped save his own freshly forged spark from being harvested for experimentation...
    • ...their presences in a small Energon bar means Rung knocks over a glass of Energon of a pair of cops and starts a brawl that leads to the younger Megatron being arrested just for being there, even though he'd done nothing but reading poetry...
    • ...Chromedome stopping Whirl from killing either thug because he thinks it would cause a paradox because they in the future they will kidnap Senator Shockwave, even as he gives away where Shockwave will be by speaking in front of them...
    • ...and best of all, Whirl, who was on the ship because he had been kicked out of the Wreckers for trying to use a lab-made Sparkeater on his comatose boss, creating the legends of Sparkeaters with a Gun that turns people into Sparkeaters made by Brainstorm millions of years in the future because he'd heard of the legends of Sparkeaters. This gun is also the cause of the Sparkeater that was on the ship, the presence of which gave Brainstorm the idea for the gun.
    Brainstorm: Kind of wish I'd been less ambitious now...
  • By his own account, Thanos has no memory of how he survived his apparent death at the end of Captain Marvel #33, or how he still had the strength to even go on after such a crushing defeat. Thanos Annual #1 reveals that after his defeat, Thanos was taken to Mephisto's realm and nearly killed. At the last second, a future avatar of himself (created during the events of The Infinity Gauntlet) intervened and saved him. The avatar then showed Thanos glimpses of his future exploits, subconsciously instilling in him the drive to recompose himself and get back in the game.
  • The Unbelievable Gwenpool: The final issue ends with a teary-eyed Gwen meeting her future self, who helps Gwen make the best of her final issue. Gwen uses the bulk of her pages to go on a lifetime adventures, going through years of storytelling to tie up loose ends and fight alongside other heroes. When she's nearing the end of the issue, Gwen goes back to the first page to meet herself, bringing the issue back to the start.
  • After Savage became a prequel to ABC Warriors, it turned out that the first iterations of the titular robots were developed with the Thousand-Year Stare, a form of mental time travel in which the practitioners/victims looked forward in time and based their designs on the Warriors' ultimate forms from far in the future.
  • Seemingly played straight but then subverted in Detective Comics (Rebirth). Held captive in an other-dimensional prison, Tim Drake escapes with a future version of himself who's now a ruthless Batman who kills. Tim insists he won't turn into this but the older version says he will, relating "I've had this conversation already." He's ready to go back to his time and let Tim continue down the path that led him to this. As he walks off, he makes an offhand-mention to Tim to "try and make up with Connor." When Tim asks "who's Connor?" Future!Tim freezes. He checks the timeline on his computer and realizes that while it's mostly the same, there are several differences. Future!Tim slashes Tim across the arm, then pulls off his own glove to see a long-healed scar that wasn't there before. He realizes something has altered time and thus broken the loop. Thus, he plans to do what it takes to stop his future from coming...meaning killing Batwoman.
  • Zero Hour! has an aversion to it. After Damage has a Super-Power Meltdown that allows history to restart, Waverider mentions that he needs to change history just a little bit to prevent this trope from happening. He does this by merging the point where Parallax was ready to destroy the last remains of time to the point where Green Arrow strikes him with an arrow with Kyle Rayner holding him. Waverider tries to save Kyle, but things happen too fast and he's unable to.

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