The alternate future is one of those things that comic companies like to toss out as potential for heroes and villains. Usually these alternate places are hellholes that need to be prevented, and sometime that even happens successfully. The X-Men in particular have mined that particular possibility for characters like Rachel Summers, Bishop, and even Cable.
On the other hand, there’s also the Team Titans’ timeline, which gave us Mirage.
The summer of 1991 was my personal first exposure to the annual summer crossover going over a variety of annuals that may or may not add up to much of a distinctive storyline. The story in question was called Armageddon 2001, and the basic idea was that sometime in the future year of 2001 (just roll with it, will ya), ten years beyond when the story was written and published, a former superhero known only as “Monarch” has taken complete control of the world. This fellow, whoever he or she was, had turned on the rest of the world’s heroes and killed them all. No one knew who Monarch was, since he wore an armored suit at all times. A man named Matthew Ryder, who had been rescued as a child by some unknown hero, volunteered for an experiment that turned his body into chronal energy. He became Waverider, disguise himself as other people, and travel the time stream and see other people’s potential futures through physical contact. His plan was to find out who would eventually become Monarch and then stop Monarch before he killed the other heroes and took over. Waverider just had to find out who Monarch was.
Traveling back to the year 1991, Waverider touched numerous heroes in his quest to find the one he was looking for. Heck, he touched Superman and Batman multiple times since they had multiple annuals. Along the way, he even discovered he himself was the hero who rescued him when he was a kid.
By the by, Monarch was supposed to be Captain Atom, but that got leaked somehow, so instead DC made a last minute change and made Hawk of “Hawk and Dove” Monarch. In more recent years, Captain Atom would also take the Monarch identity, but that’s not important right now.
So what does all this have to do with Mirage? I am glad you asked, hypothetical reader!
Waverider sought out the Teen Titans, and Marv Wolfman, unlike other writers, didn’t bother to stop whatever storyline he was telling at the time, and since that was my first exposure to the Titans, I had no idea what was going on. Waverider observed a group that included Nightwing and concluded Monarch could be one of the Titans since they seemed to have less regard for human life than other heroes.
Say what? News to me. Batman trained such a guy? Whatever.
Anyway, Waverider touched Nightwing and saw in the future some dude named Lord Chaos ruled the world. A demigod, Lord Chaos ruled with an iron fist and only resistance groups like the Team Titans stood a chance of stopping him.
But wait, what about Monarch? See, that’s where it gets funny. The cover for the book showed the new, future Titans, while the cover text asked what their connection was to Monarch, and the answer may shock the reader.
It was incredibly shocking. And by that, I mean the Team Titans didn’t seem to have a connection to Monarch at all. Outside the cover, there was no suggestion of any connection to Monarch at all, or even a mention of Monarch outside Waverider’s musings.
Who were the Team Titans? Led by an older version of Nightwing, they were a resurrected (maybe) version of Terra, a winged woman named Redwing, a vampire named Nightrider, an electrical guy named Killowat, and future Nightwing’s girlfriend Mirage. Mirage could cast illusions to make herself appear as different people. Together with a supercomputer named Prestor Jon, they fought Lord Chaos’ minions and were not afraid to kill.
I found them mostly dull.
Oh, this issue alone of all the Armageddon 2001 annuals ended with a cliffhanger where the Team Titans decide to go back in time and kill Donna Troy before she gives birth to Lord Chaos. So, that’s where the team went.
I didn’t care.
But fast forward a few years to Zero Hour. Monarch had managed to suck up Waverider’s chronal energies and changed himself into the villainous Extant. Then we learned that all those Teams of Titans (there were more than the ones we saw apparently) were from a fake future and were really sleeper agents for Monarch. See, they did have an connection to Monarch after all. I still didn’t care, but at least that old cover stopped lying to me. When Extant was defeated, most of the Team Titans simply ceased to exist except for Terra, older Nightwing, and Mirage. There was something about how Terra and Mirage were in the time stream when the others stopped existing or something, but the point is, they still existed. Those two would join a newly formed Titans team under Roy “Arsenal” Harper and have some really lame adventures. I’ve mentioned that Titans era wasn’t very good in the past, but wait until I tell you what happened to Mirage. That’s even worse.
See, remember, Mirage was future Nightwing’s lover, and future Nightwing came to the past, but he got found by a then-corrupted to evil Raven, who likewise corrupted him. He renamed himself Deathwing because it was the 90s or something, and then decided to look in on Mirage.
So, Deathwing found Mirage and impregnated her. Yeah, she wasn’t into it. Yeah, rape. Not cool. Really not cool. She’d eventually give birth to a daughter, Julienne, after which she’d basically leave the Titans to raise said daughter and only come up for massive battles that required the Titans to call up all their reserves. I’m thinking DC probably wanted to forget a character that was treated so poorly since I am pretty sure they didn’t really know how to treat a rape victim very well. That sort of thing can lead to PTSD in the real world, and with a growing understanding of how bad that is, a character like Mirage probably got forgotten for a very good reason. I’m sure there’s a way to treat someone who went through that sort of trauma in a mature and sensitive manner, but I’m also sure that The New Titans was really not the place to do it.
Of course, many of the Titans from that era have been killed off or forgotten since then, so it may be that she just came around at the wrong time.