I am meeting Superman for the first time. He is an alien to this world, but I do not learn this until seven years later.
I am observing the wedding of Clark Kent and Lois Lane. Three months before this I see Lane kiss Superman and wonder if this is adultery.
I am arguing with the alien Kal-El. He calls me a monster. Six and a half years earlier he shakes my hand and thanks me for my assistance in saving his life. Eight months from now he is searching the Earth for me demanding answers for a disaster I did not participate in. Twenty-three minutes from now I am prone before him, defeated in melee. A drop of iridescent blue blood forms on my lips. We pause in surprise when we both learn that my body can bleed.
I am reading about the "Super man" in a newspaper in the tavern. I hope that the experiments we're working on at Los Alamos will also be in the paper. It is thirteen days before my first death. It is forty-seven days before my rebirth is declared top-secret. It is fifty-eight years before Kal-El calls me a monster.
I am standing in an environment bubble inside the Sun. Kal-El asks me if I can free him from this hospice he has not left in the previous one-hundred and seventy years. I tell him I can, but I will not. He informs me I am still a monster. I will not disagree.
I originally posted this to 4chan's /co/mics subforum Sept 2012, where it was well-received. -Mozai
little dogwelder (age 7 going on 40) asks
For The Spectre vs. Doc Manhattan, it would be a Vertigo short-story, 4-6 pages, and it would be one of the human-hosted Spectres since those incarnations aren't prescient like the pure-angel-of-vengeance incarnations.
SCENE: Doc Manhattan at "home," messing with some Kirby-esque machinery. Laurie's asleep.
The Spectre passes through the walls, giant-sized and looking intimidating. Makes a threat about coming to make him finally meeting justice.
Doc doesn't even make eye contact; says a non-sequitr: "in eight-hundred and seventy-two seconds from now, you exit this building after telling me you are sorry. Now please do not disturb me, this is a delicate device."
The Spectre lashes out with a violent gesture, smashing or warping the parts that Doc was looking at. "I will not apologise for whatever pain I cause in the execution of my duty! If it is necessary, I will bring this entire base down around your ears so that you will pay for your sins!"
Doc turns, finally meeting the gaze of the Spectre who towers over him. "I understand your duty and I will not stop you from it. Very soon you will claim to be an angel of God, and thus unstoppable, and I have no interest in debating theology with you."
The Spectre is not used to this. "I do not make claims like some charlatan; I *am* the angel of vengeance empowered by God's will!" For each of the following statements, the Spectre shows an image from Doc's past in his cape, or hand, or among the twisted broken machine parts.
"I have seen your willingness to observe evil unimpeded despite the powers of a titan at your disposal." (maybe when Comedian killed his war-wife in front of Doc?)
"I know of your cruel adultery when you preferred the bed of a younger woman to that of your wife." (Doc and Laurie making out on a rooftop.)
"I know of your cavalier attitude when you choose to discard restraint and murder men at a whim." (Doc's head-exploding mafia goons shortly before he's taken off the super-hero team)
Cut to Doc's reaction. A thoughtful look is on his face; one finger brought up to his chin. "These are the sins I am to be punished for?"
Pull back. The Spectre is larger than before, dwarfing the blue naked defenseless-looking Doc. Spectre's hands reaching out as if to crush Doc, face twisted in anger. "YESSSSSSS !!!"
Front-on headshot of Doc's head. "You say that I am to be punished for my sins. Sins are mistakes, are disobedience against the will of God. I have disobeyed no-one, and especially not the lord God Creator."
Closer in on Doc's head, this time from nose to brow. "Two hours ago, I started work on this device, knowing you would arrive to destroy it. Seventeen years ago, I accompanied the Blake into the tavern at Nha Trang knowing he would be disfigured and would react violently. Then and now I know that you will leave this place in two-hundred and thirteen seconds."
Closer in on Doc's head, just eyes and forehead. "I know that in twenty-two months I will murder a man I once called 'friend' and the experience will convince me to leave Earth behind. I know these things because I am aware at every point along my timeline. I have no willingness for action, no preference for any outcome, no whims to be pursued freely."
Closer still! This time so close all we see is the black hydrogen symbol, one electron endlessly orbiting its nucleus, on flat blue skin. "Sin is misbehaviour; misbehaviour presumes choice. I know what will do, I do not choose how I will act. All I have done has already been observed, and my entire personal timeline is thus a constant. There are no uncertainties to choose from."
Pull back. The Spectre, still oversized, staring at Doc, this time with a grim silent expression. Doc is just standing with arms at his side, expressionless, staring back.
Spectre's face. "You know all that you have done, and all that you will do, and you are not able to change any of it." Doc [off-camera]: "It cannot be changed, and it will not be changed."
Spectre and Doc. This time they're the same size, looking at each other. Spectre: "So you do not have free will." Doc: "Not as you define it, no. My role is to be there when these events happen, no more."
Spectre: "But you cannot change these events in your life." Doc: "I have not, I can not, I will not. The terms are interchangeable, the difference is superfluous. My timeline will not change, and any hopes to change it would only be distressing."
The Spectre turns to leave. Doc has already turned back to the wreckage of the device, which is starting to re-assemble itself. The Spectre pauses before reaching the wall. "I had no idea you were a prisoner of your fate. I'm sorry for your predicament."
Doc, without stopping what he's doing, replies: "Thank you for the sentiment, but it is unnecessary."
"I am what I am."