Book Review – Time Masters

  • Title: Time Masters featuring Rip Hunter
  • Author: Lewis Shiner
  • Artists: Bob Wayne, Art Thibert, José Marzán Jr.
  • Line: Immediately after Crisis on Infinite Earths (early Modern Age)
  • Characters: Rip Hunter, Vandal Savage
  • Publication Date: 2008 (this edition), first published 1991
  • Publisher: DC Comics
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 7/27/2016

Time Masters featuring Rip Hunter is a graphic novel collection from 1989 and 1990 – thus it’s printed on low-quality newsprint in a four-color process. It looks and feels like an “old-fashioned” comic book because it is. But after reading several New 52 collections it was fun to read something a bit more old-fashioned and fun. Rip Hunter has solved the riddle of time travel, but has also discovered an inconvenient rule: each method of time travel can only be used once. If someone uses his Time Sphere to go back in time – they need to use a different method to return to the present (such as a time platform) – if no other method exists it’s a one-way trip. Also, each person can only use each method once. Rip gathers a group of scientists and they set out to save the world by unraveling a mystery – who are the Illuminati and who is their leader, Vandal Savage?

Vandal Savage and his Illuminati, whose origins go back to Atlantis, are definitely up to something – they, for example, kill George Washington and replace him with a duplicate German baron. Savage and his group sit in the shadows and pull strings and manipulate the fortunes and future history of the world.

However, this is one of the weaknesses of the book. I’ve never been a fan of conspiracy theories – most not only stretch credibility but can be easily disproven with easily obtainable facts. Rip, rather than being a dashing hero, sounds increasingly paranoid and becomes a “not nice guy” by the end of the book. Rip’s friends and associates are a good group though.

Although Time Masters was a fun trip to DC Comics past, full of nostalgia, the actual story was only so-so. I vastly preferred Time Masters Vanishing Point which was filled with awesome character interaction and a great story. Overall all, I can only give Time Masters featuring Rip Hunter a half-hearted recommendation. It’s OK but flawed.

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Book Review – Time Masters: Vanishing Point

  • Title: Time Masters: Vanishing Point
  • Author: Dan Jurgens
  • Artists: Norm Rapmund
  • Line: Immediately post-Final Crisis
  • Characters: Rip Hunter, Superman, Green Lantern (Hal Jordan), Booster Gold
  • Publication Date: 2011
  • Publisher: DC Comics
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 7/05/2016

I enjoyed Time Masters Vanishing Point but it was neither really how it’s described on the back nor is it much of a tie-in to Flashpoint (the tie-in is limited to one page). In Time Masters Vanishing Point, Rip Hunter recruits a group of heroes (Superman; Green Lantern – Hal Jordan; and Booster Gold) to find Bruce Wayne who has been thrown back in time by Darkseid’s Omega Beams (see DC’s Final Crisis). Batman wasn’t killed in Final Crisis but sent back in time. For that reason I expected Vanishing Point to explain what was going on in Time and the Batman – to be the other half of that story. It’s not, because Rip Hunter and company get distracted during their travels through time and are unable to accomplish their stated mission to rescue Bruce Wayne. Everyone remembers what they are supposed to be doing – but their time travel is about as unpredictable as the TARDIS and they end-up all over the place rather than finding Bruce. I expected a “chase through time” – what I got was actually an innovative time-travel story with characters occasionally saying, pretty much, “But I have another mission I have to get back to”, so to speak.

This novel also includes a lot of background for Rip Hunter, including being raised by time-travelling parents who constantly move him not just from place to place but from time to time. And we learn a lot more about Booster Gold. Booster, in turns out, has hidden depths – he’s not who you think he is. The novel also features a number of characters with ties to Rip Hunter, Booster Gold, or both, including Michelle Carter (Goldstar), Supernova, and Brainiac 5 (briefly). Time Master villains also show up including: Despero, Degaton, and two of the Linear Men (one of whom is a woman).

However, despite all the various characters who appear briefly, and sometimes disappear just as quickly (eg Reverse Flash) – the novel isn’t confusing. Everyone is introduced by name at first appearance, which helps a lot (if nothing else one can always consult Google or Wikipedia to learn more), and it’s clear who is a hero and who is a villain. Also, the plot, which could easily become confusing with so many characters coming and going is actually pretty clear and easy to understand, even with the time travel and the frequent flashbacks (and occasional flash forwards) that flesh out the characters and explain their motivations.

This novel is very much Rip Hunter’s story – who he was, even as a child; who he is – as an adult and Time Master; and who he will be. It’s also a story about Booster Gold. It doesn’t fill in the other side of Time and the Batman unfortunately – we never really see Batman, despite his rescue being the McGuffin of the story.

There is a brief one-page reference to Flashpoint but that’s all – this story is not part of World of Flashpoint. I did enjoy it immensely and I wonder if there are any other graphic novels featuring these characters. Recommended to DC Comics fans, fans of time travel stories and science fiction, and also to anyone who saw CW’s Legends of Tomorrow and wants to learn more about Rip Hunter and the Time Masters.

Legends of Tomorrow Season 1 Review (spoilers)

  • Series Title:  Legends of Tomorrow
  • Season: 1
  • Episodes: 16
  • Discs: 4
  • Network: CW
  • Cast: Arthur Darvill, Brandon Routh, Victor Garber, Franz Drameh, Caity Lotz, Dominic Purcell, Wentworth Miller, Ciara Renée

Legends of Tomorrow is a team-up show that was spun-off mid-season from The Flash and Arrow. It features Brandon Routh as Dr. Ray Palmer (The Atom) and Sara Lance (White Canary) from Arrow, Dr. Martin Stein and Jefferson “Jax” Jackson (Firestorm) from The Flash, and also from The Flash Leonard Snart (Captain Cold) and Mick Rory (Heatwave). New to this series are time traveller, Rip Hunter, and Kendra Saunders (Hawkgirl). Hunter brings his time-ship, the Waverider and it’s A.I. computer, Gideon.

What makes Legends of Tomorrow different and interesting isn’t simply the characters – it’s that these characters are the “screw-ups”. They not only make mistakes – they frequently make things worse. Rip Hunter’s mission is to track down and kill Vandal Savage an immortal dictator from the future that killed his wife and child (and billions more people). Yet Rip is also on the run – because his mission isn’t sanctioned by the Time Masters he once served – they are actually after him for breaking the rules. Halfway through the season we discover the soldier, Chronos, who was chasing our characters through time is actually Mick Rory – who was captured by the Time Masters and brainwashed into being their killing machine. This means that when, during the first time you watch this series and you assume Chronos is tracking the Waverider using future technology – he’s actually able to track Rip and company because he remembers where they will be. This means the second time you watch this show, there’s an extra layer of meaning to what’s going on.

The first six or so episodes of this series are very episodic – Rip and his crew travel to different eras of time, trying to track down and eliminate Savage. Yet again – their plans seem doomed. Savage also has an intimate connection to Kendra (Hawkgirl) and Carter Hall (Hawkman). However, gradually the story becomes more connected and each episode ends with a “cliffhanger” that leads into the next episode – and this is where the show really picked up steam. The last four episodes are essentially one grand story – with revelations about the Time Masters – who, after all, are still using Rip Hunter.

The weakest part of season 1 of Legends of Tomorrow is Vandal Savage, and not simply because a immortal villain is a boring villain (after all how do you kill an immortal villain?) but because I just didn’t like how he was played. However, I liked the finale very much.

The best part of Legends of Tomorrow is the characters and the cast. Watching Arthur Darvill playing a time traveler again is a pure joy. The rest of the cast does an excellent job – and the writing takes the time to explore each of the characters – their backgrounds, their fears, and how they can become heroes despite their faults and doubts. So this is a show about very human “superheroes”. Watching Leonard Snart develop is especially a joy. The show is also well-written, and isn’t afraid to get into the occasional moral quandary about what they are doing. I recommend it highly.