Waverider – Needless Character Analysis
I was reading an older comic book that had Waverider in it, and was reminded that I really liked the overall design of the character and the way his powers interacted with the black parts of his costume. I revisited the character and decided that this was one character that I wanted to do a little analysis of, despite his effect on comics being negligible. This is truly a needless character analysis.
Matthew Ryder was from a future where a villain named Monarch had conquered humanity. As a scientist, Ryder built a time machine which he intended to use to discover which hero in 1991 would become Monarch. He found himself transformed by the machine and given super-powers, namely the ability to freely travel the timestream and predict a person’s future. Travelling back and encountering various heroes, he explored their possible futures in effort to discover who would become Monarch.
When he used this power on Captain Atom, he created a breach which Monarch traveled through to ensure his own existence. When he killed the hero Dove he prompted her partner Hawk to kill him, but discover that he would become Monarch. Hawk donned his armor and became Monarch. Waverider aided other heroes in preventing Monarch’s reign from happening as he had remembered.
In travelling through time, Waverider altered his own future, creating a Matthew Rider that did not become Waverider. The two of them joined the Linear Men, a group of time travelers that protected the time stream. He came to Superman’s aid most often, until the events of Zero Hour saw him killed by Extant, a villain that had evolved from Monarch. The Matthew Ryder that had previously not become Waverider then became a new incarnation of Waverider and helped a group of heroes save the universe and rebuild the destroyed timeline. Waverider was later tortured and killed by Mister Mind after refusing to reveal the whereabouts of Rip Hunter in the time stream. Another of the linear men, Liri Li merged with Waverider’s corpse to become the Linear Woman and rescue another surviving version of Matthew Ryder from a plot from Black Beetle to sieze the power of Waverider for himself and defy the rules of time travel laid by Rip Hunter.
As I mentioned at the beginning, Waverider’s costume uniquely interacted with his powers, making for a visually impressive character. The character was popular enough to return after his initial story, making his lifespan longer than the villain of that series, Monarch. When DC Comics restored a pre-Crisis multiverse, the character was resurrected with Booster Gold becoming the new Waverider.
Outside of comics, Waverider appeared in Justice League Unlimited and got an action figure in the accompanying toy line. Most recently, his name was used for Rip Hunter’s timeship in the television series Legends of Tomorrow.