First Appearance: ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN #476 (March, 1991)
Young Matthew Ryder was trapped by the cav-in of a Metropolis subway tunnel triggered when Captain Atom's battle with Monarch caused the collapse of the city's old downtown S.T.A.R. Labs facility. Crying out for help, the boy was rescued from the rubble by the time-traveling being known as Waverider. His life saved, Matt naturally felt a growing admiration for the legendary superheroes of the late 20th Century.
Just a few days later, Matt and his parents were among a crowd of onlookers who gathered to watch Superman and the Metal Man remove an experimental quantum field generator from the ruin of S.T.A.R. Labs. But while the heroes went about their labors, the unstable generator abegan to explode, threatening the crowd with certain death. Miraculously, all were saved when Waverider managed to transport the generator away through time, just instants before the critical moment. (Ironically, Waverider had once been a future Matthew Ryder who had journeyed to the past from a divergent time-line to prevent the machinations of the Monarch. In the Waverider's personal past, his parents had been killed by the explosion, which only he had survived. In changing his past, Waverider created a new future for Matt Ryder---and yet, due to his having become part of the time stream, Waverider's existence was not disrupted.)
Young Matt grew up and went on to meet and study with the noted time researcher Ripley Hunter. Years later, Ryder began his own experiments with time under the patronage of Lex Luthor II. But something went wrong with one of his experiments, and Ryder found himself and his equipment projected to a strange plane beyond what we know as time and space.
Exactly what happened next has yet to be recorded, but it is known that in that strange realm---which he came to call Vanishing Point---Ryder established a base from which he could study and unravel the secrets of the space-time caontinuum. Others came to join Ryder from various eras of time...adventurer Travis O'Connell, archivist Liri Lee, even Ryder's former mentor Rip Hunter. Together, they became the Linear Men, devoting their lives to maintaining the equilibrium of the time stream and preventing unwarranted divergences. To that end, O'Connell eventually sacrificed his own life in the late 30th Century.
Text: Roger Stern