RIP HUNTER, TIME MASTEROriginal Medium: Comic books
Published by: DC Comics
First Appeared: 1959
Creators: Jack Miller (writer) and Ruben Moreira (artist)
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In the late 1950s and early '60s, it was quite the thing at DC Comics to put dinosaurs out of their time on comic book covers. Naturally, titles like Strange Adventures and
Tales of the Unexpected had them — but they were also frequently seen on the covers of Tomahawk, Star Spangled War Stories and Rex the Wonder Dog. In Rip Hunter, Time Master, the publisher had a perfect opportunity to use dinosaurs that were not out of their time. Rip Hunter could use his Time Sphere to go back to the Mesozoic Era and have adventures with dinosaurs on their own turf.
But he didn't. Practically all of the dinosaurs he met (and like any other contemporary DC character, he met plenty) had one excuse or another for turning up in historical times, which are mostly what he visited during his six years as a comic book star. Once, he ran into one in the 26th century! He also encountered aliens and supernatural monsters, just like the other DC heroes (tho at least he never fought a talking gorilla). With the endless vistas of eternity before him, Rip Hunter was handled just like every other adventure hero DC was putting out.
The Time Master, as he was subtitled, started out in Showcase, the comic where most DC series were being launched at the time. The Flash, Space Ranger and Challengers of the Unknown had started there; and Green Lantern, Bat Lash and The Inferior Five would start there during the next few years. Rip's first appearance was in the 20th issue (May-June, 1959), in a story written by Jack Miller (later the DC editor who introduced Deadman) and drawn by Ruben Moreira (Casey Ruggles, Roy Raymond).
The story gave no explanation of the Time Sphere's origin. Apparently, Rip had invented it himself, assisted by his friend Jeff Smith. This indicated that Rip was a good deal smarter than other well-known time travelers in comics, such as Alley Oop and Brick Bradford, who used other people's technology. Rip and Jeff were also the action-loving heroes of the series, with Rip's girlfriend, Bonnie Baxter, and Bonnie's young brother, Corky, rounding out the crew. The "smart guy, strong guy, woman, kid" motif is repeated in several other comic book teams that started around then, such as Sea Devils and The Fantastic Four.
The quartet appeared in three more issues of Showcase over the next year, then moved out into their own book. Rip Hunter, Time Master #1 was dated March-April, 1961, after which the title served up a dose of dinosaurs, aliens and supernatural monsters on a regular basis until #29 (Nov-Dec, 1965), the final issue. Miller was the regular scripter throughout. The only noticeable change along the way, aside from a succession of artists (finally settling in 1962 on Bill Ely, who had done scads of non-series stories for DC, ACG and other publishers), was in the 16th issue (Sept-Oct, 1963), when, to blend in with the superheroes that were quickly becoming comics' dominant genre again, they started wearing bright green uniforms with red trim.
After losing his series, Rip was forgotten for years. He was next seen in a 1977 issue of Justice League of America, which also featured Blackhawk, Congorilla and practically everybody else that had a DC series during the late 1950s and early '60s. After a couple more minor walk-ons, he turned up in the back pages of DC Comics Presents #37 (September, 1981), where he finally got a proper origin story (which contained no surprises). Later yet, he joined Animal Man, Immortal Man, Cave Carson and several other DC obscuros to form a group rather self-deprecatingly called "The Forgotten Heroes", which has since been forgotten. His time machine played a part in the origin of Booster Gold, a DC hero of the late 1980s.
In 1990, he starred in Time Masters, an 8-issue series that also included appearances of Viking Prince, Dr. Fate and a few others. This story expanded on his origin, and could very well have been used as the the springboard to a major relaunch of the character.
But it wasn't. Since then, Rip Hunter has remained what he's always been — a potentially (but not actually) interesting concept, tho decidedly minor, lurking somewhere in the backwaters of the DC Universe.