Time Masters

November 4, 2011

Following the highly entertaining 2006-2007 series 52, some pretty strange decisions were made at DC’s Head Office. One of these was to reprint Bob Wayne and Lewis Shiner’s 8-issue Time Masters from 1990. I guess everything from its archives will eventually get at least one round of re-release, and it does make business sense to cash in on a character who has recently found mass appeal again. But that’s as much excuse as I can generate for this 2008 appearance of the best-forgotten series.

After all, what’s there to like, really? You get time traveller Rip Hunter and friends trying to invent a next-generation Time Sphere. In the meantime, they use their old backpack units that can allow each person only one roundabout trip across the time barrier. To prevent world domination by the undying Victor Savage’s Illuminati, they have to send one member back to a different age each time to neutralise its plans. And that’s all the framing device there is to make random features for Jonah Hex, Tomahawk, the Viking Prince, Dr Fate, and Arion of Alantis, each in a chapter. With each trip, nothing gets changed, so necessitating the next one.

It’s all so flimsy that characterisation is incidental and sucks even on children’s story-telling level. Bonnie, the team’s lone female member, is intellectually strong but emotionally fickle, having flings with all the other adult males. The men themselves are either jerks or wimps but certainly tech geeks. When Bonnie’s younger brother Corky (there’s a name for you), wants his time-tripping turn, Rip screams at him for having already wasted his on a run-around with dinosaurs. Corky gets upset and hangs himself. Everyone — including Sister — grieves for all of 5 seconds, and they’re off on the next adventure. A few pages later, the Time Sphere carries all “used” travellers around anyway.

That is the kind of screwy rubbish we are dealing with. What were Wayne and Shiner thinking at the time? Unbendable deadlines? Page constraints? Just getting to the fist-fight with Victor Savage at the end? Geoff Johns must have lied through his teeth praising this limited series in his preface. The newer Booster Gold series he helped to kick-start, featuring Rip, is infinitely better. Heck, even the Rip Hunter series from the 1960s was good. The only decent story here is arguably the first one, a secret origin story for Cave Carson, adventurer from “Inside Earth”. And he’s not even a main player!

Gweek thinks this deserves 3 time-travelling seconds into the distant past, wherever that lands it.


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