Hank Quinn was washed up.
There was no doubt about it. Every idea he'd think of seemed tired and cliche. Hell, at this point even he was tired and cliche. You see, in the early to mid '90s, college dropout Hank Quinn created a little comic book entitled Dimension Man. After he left a copy in a coffee shop, a high-profile publisher picked it up and the rest was history. Literally.
Seventeen years ago...
"Hello? Is this Hank Quinn?"
"Uhhm, yes? This is he."
"Great! Great. My name's Ted Wilson. I'm head publisher at Bam Kapow! Comics. I found your copy of Dimension Man! Are you a freelancer?"
Hank was taken aback. "Uhhh. No? That was just something I made when I was bored... This isn't a joke, is it? I'm not being Punk'd, am I?"
"No sir! I brought that comic in and we here at Bam Kapow! (He seriously emphasized 'Kapow!' everytime he said it) love it! Is there more where that came from?"
"Well yeah, I suppose... I never really thought about it seriously, but I guess so."
"Great, great. Because we're always looking for new talent here at Bam Kapow! And you've got it in spades. How's a monthly title sound?"
"Wait, seriously? Like my own comic book?"
"Yessir! How about you come in tomorrow? We'll talk shop, yes? Hammer out the details."
"Uh, yeah. Sure!"
And with that, Ted Wilson hung up.
Seventeen years later...
Full of self-loathing, Hank Quinn sat in his cruddy apartment in Kings Row wondering where it all went wrong. He dropped out of art school when he ran out of money and his parents refused to help him out. He got another job working at a local coffee shop off campus. The pay wasn't that great, but he was thankful for any work he could get. It was in this coffee shop that his life turned around.
After Bam Kapow! published the first issue of Dimension Man, it caught on like wildfire. People loved it. And so did Hank. For a time, it was like he could do no wrong. The stories were thrilling and the characters were full of depth. Everything seemed so... human and real. Hank handled everything within the comic book; the art, the writing, and the editing. Even at Bam Kapow! He was granted free control over the series, pending approval by the publisher, who at this point had become one of his closest friends.
But like they say, all good things must come to an end. Actually in this case, they didn't have to; it was Hank's fault they did. He got a little big for his britches and the success went to his head. Comic conventions became monotonous, fans became annoying and bothersome. Hank had tired of writing Dimension Man. He wanted to try his hand at other things. So, in the summer of 1999, Dimension Man faced the Everywhere Man for the final time and was killed. No one was happy about it.
His fans especially. Hank received an extraordinary amount of hate mail, and even a few death threats. Ted Wilson fired him; he'd only ever buddied up to Hank in order to keep him complacent and pumping out stories. Hank eventually went on to write a few other series. But none caught on. He realized that for some reason, he could only ever write Dimension Man. Everything else seemed pretentious and cliche. His follow-up comics failed to impress anyone and Hank Quinn faded into obscurity.
One night, when he was particularly depressed he decided to write one last 'Dimension Man' story, in the hopes that maybe, just maybe, he'd be redeemed in the eyes of his former fans. Rain relentlessly pelted the window like small bullets, only reinforcing his already gloomy mood. But then he was interrupted by a knock at his door. When he opened it, he was greeted by a man dressed as Dimension Man, cape and all. It looked as if he'd spent the night outside. His hair was wet and messy and his costume was soaked.
"You're another cosplayer, aren't you? Listen, this isn't funny anymore. Can't you take pity and leave me alone?" Hank attempted to close the door in his face, but the man gripped the door and stopped him.
"Hank Quinn, born 1986 in Atlas Park, Paragon City. Dropped out of art school after you were fired from El Super Mexicano."
"Congratulations, you can use wikipedia. Leave now or I'm calling the police."
"You slept in the same bed as your older sister until the age of twelve because you were afraid of the dark. When you were thirteen at Camp Willuchanka, you tripped over a tree branch and sprained your wrist. You told everyone you fought off a bear."
Hank let go of the door, mouth agape.
"Listen closely, Hank Quinn, because what I'm about to tell you may very well save your life one day." The stranger paused and glanced around the interior of his apartment, "Wait, do you have any beers in the fridge?"
The stranger passed through the threshold of Hank's apartment and past Hank as he stood there, speechless. He headed straight for the refrigerator. He uncapped a Heineken bottle with his bare hands and swept his cape out from under him as he plopped down onto Hank's ratty old sofa. Hank finally recovered and closed his door before turning to address the stranger, "Wha- Who are you?!"
The costumed stranger took a large swig of his beer before belching and replying flatly, "I'm Dimension Man."
"No, no. Dimension Man's a comic book... Dimension Man doesn't exist... Oh god, I've finally lost it."
"Focus Hank. Sorry to say it, but you're actually completely sober." He paused to glance around again, "Though I wouldn't be, I mean look at this place... Anyways..."
"B-but I made you!"
"Looks like someone's got a God complex... No sir, you didn't actually make me. That was my father's one great achievement, though I'm told my mother had some part in it as well..."
He chuckled to himself as Hank closed his eyes, if only to check and see if he was hallucinating. He wasn't. When he opened them again, "Dimension Man" was standing in front of him. He slapped him in the face, "Hank! Wake up. You need to pay attention. Because I'm about to drop a ten-ton satchel of knowledge on you. And you might very well be crushed."
Hank more or less melted into his couch and Dimension Man sat down beside him. "Who are you?" Hank questioned again.
"I told you. I'm Dimension Man. Rex Mitchell?"
"No, no. Dimension Man doesn't exist."
Dimension Man wagged a finger. "Not in this dimension, no. You sir, have superpowers. Well a superpower, anyways."
Hank skeptically arched a brow.
"You, like me, can see into other dimensions." He continued, finishing his beer. "You can't control it, but it happens. Usually when you're sleeping. You saw me; my life, my adventures, my experiences. And like any other completely sane person, you interpreted these "dreams" as just that. Dreams. You captured my life in a nutshell and put it onto paper. Sure, you put a little spin on it to make it seem more glamorous. For instance, I'm nowhere near as successful as you wrote me to be."
Hank waved his hands to stop him, "Okay, hold on. Why was I dreaming of you? Specifically."
Dimension Man looked insulted. "I'd like to think it was because the universe revolved around me, but apparently it's more complicated than that. Or less. It depends on how you look at at... Anyways, we are extradimensional counterparts."
"You just made that up, didn't you?"
"It sounds better than evil twin. Mostly because I'm not evil. Unless cheating on your diet every now and then is considered evil. Anyways, in other words, I'm you from another dimension." He noticed Hank's quizzical expression. "C'mon. It can't be that hard to believe. Lemme' ask you this; when the "idea" of Dimension Man first popped into your head, who'd he look like?"
Hank realized where this was going. "Me. I thought that was just because I was projecting myself onto the character."
Dimension Man nodded. "No, it was me. Specifically. And you drew the comic book version of Dimension Man differently because you didn't want your readers to think you were vain, am I right?" He removed his domino mask. He really was the spitting image of Hank Quinn. Albeit cleanshaven and wet from the rain. Hank lifted himself up and paced around his apartment.
"Aren't we supposed to have the same name?"
"You watch too much television." Dimension Man followed suit and stood along with Hank. He grimaced when he noticed the wet spot he'd left on the cushion of the couch. "Sorry about that, by the way."
Hank dismissed his apology. "This still doesn't make sense. Even if I bought all of this, it doesn't explain why you're here?"
"Now there's a question I've been asking myself all day. I woke up at a bus stop at ten o' clock this morning. I thought I'd pulled another all-nighter."
"How'd you know to come here? Wait, were you having dreams about me?"
Dimension Man laughed and gestured around the small apartment. "No offense, but your life isn't exactly something I'd want to be dreaming about. No, I woke up with all this information at the forefront of my think-tank here." He tapped his forehead for emphasis. "Everything I just told you was put in my head like some sort of psychic message by someone or something. And I'd bet dollars to donuts that whoever or whatever did that, brought me here for the same reason. Yessir, whoever's pulling the strings up there has plans for you and I."
Hank attempted to wipe the puzzled look off his face for the tenth time in the last half hour, but Dimension Man stopped him. "Don't worry, if I were in your shoes, I'd be just as skeptical."
"If you were brought here this morning, where've you been all day?"
"Saving lives. That's kind of what I do, remember? And I google'd myself. Don't judge me, though. In any other situation it'd be very vain. Just call it necessary research."
Hank nodded thoughtfully. "Right... so how do you get back?"
Dimension Man laughed again, "Get back? Why would I want to go back?"
"All the things you left behind? Your girlfriend? Marcy McKay?"
"Doesn't exist. As much as I wish she did. That one was one of your ideas. You already know both my parents were killed by The Everywhere Man. And I have a feeling I'm supposed to be here."
"So uhh... where do we go from here."
Dimension Man snapped his spandex top. "Well for starters, I need a change of clothes. And since you're me and I'm you... well you know. And I'm going to need a place to stay."
Hank arched a brow.
"What? You want I should parade around Steel Canyon looking for my own place? As appealing as that sounds, I don't think some people would ignore two Hank Quinn's wondering around."
Hank sighed and sat down again. Dimension Man frowned.
"You think you'd be a bit more excited. You can be in two places at once now! I smell a sitcom, am I right?"
And so it begins....