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CSBG Archive

Five Goofiest Moments in the First Five Issues of Rip Hunter, Time Master

Every day this month will have the five goofiest moment from a five-issue stretch of a particular comic book run. Once a week it will be the ten goofiest moments of a ten-issue stretch. Here is a list of the moments featured so far.

Today we’re looking at Rip Hunter, Time Master #1-5, by writer Jack Miller and artists Ross Andru and Mike Esposito (#1-3) and Nick Cardy (#4-5).

As always, this is all in good fun. I don’t mean any of this as a serious criticism of the comics in question. Great comics often have goofy moments (Kirby/Lee’s Fantastic Four is one of the best comic book runs of all-time and there were TONS of goofy stuff in those 100 plus issues!).

If you’re unfamiliar with Rip Hunter, Time Master, the concept itself was terrificly goofy. A knock-off of the Challengers of the Unknown, Rip Hunter stars Rip Hunter (naturally) and his best friend, Jeff Smith, as well as Rip’s girlfriend, Bonnie Baxter and her kid brother, Corky. The quartet travel through time for both adventure and sometimes to solve a problem in the present. The series debuted roughly in early 1961, so Reed Richards can feel a bit better knowing that while he was dumb enough to bring his girlfriend and her kid brother to outer space on an experimental rocket, at least he didn’t routinely bring his girlfriend and her kid brother on missions through time itself (Reed waited all the way until Fantastic Four #19 before he brought his girlfriend and her brother through time with him).

5. Perhaps not the best use of your time machine…

Typically, there is some good reason for Rip and his crew to travel through time. To wit, in issue #2, an ancient beast is uncovered and starts destroying Greece, so Rip and the gang go back in time to figure out how the beast was controlled back then. That’s a good use of the time machine. Proving that curses aren’t real?

That is a goofy use of your time machine. It is like asking, “could you use your time machine to see if thunder is angels bowling?”

I guess Rip just figured that doing this would mean he could count this as their wedding present. Most of Rip’s money is wrapped up in keeping the time machine working, so he doesn’t have extra cash lying around for wedding presents.

His friend’s new father-in-law sounds like a real tool, no?

4. Once I save them, who cares what happens to them?

In #4, they go back in time to save the island of bird men known as Vornia from the ancient Babylonians.

On the way home, Corky wonders about the Vornians, and I just love Rip’s casual response…

“Oh yeah, they probably all died later on.” It’s like the opposite of the ending of a fairy tale. “They all died unhappily ever after.”

3. We can’t tamper with time! Oh wait, we totally can!

In #5, someone wants Rip to change time…

I just love Rip’s reaction. “We can’t tamper with time!” “Please!” “Oh, okay, let’s tamper with time!”

By the by, the end of the issue has Rip getting in the last word (as usual), and I like to read his dialogue as patronizing…

“No, moron, we did not, just like I told you we couldn’t do before, dummy!”

2. Why is this mission still going on?

Okay, so in #1, during their silly attempt to prove that the curse is not for real, they go to the 14th Century where they prove that one of the guys who supposedly died actually faked his death. So that’s the end. The curse obviously is not real (besides just normal logic), since one of the “victims” didn’t actually die. End of story. Mission solved.

Only Rip, for some reason, doesn’t buy it…

Huh!? That makes no sense, Rip!

Later on, they discover that the guy who placed the original curse on the family killed the first guy himself so that the curse would appear real and somehow THAT’s enough for Rip!

You already proved that the curse was bogus, Rip! You already had all the evidence you needed!!!

Story continues below

1. Don’t know much about history…

In #4, a ship captain friend of Rip’s comes across an ancient bird man who was accidentally zapped to the future. He calls in his pal, Rip, for help. And then he asks one of the most awesome questions ever…

I just absolutely adore that he clearly wasn’t sure about it. “Maybe I missed the history class where we learned about bird men!” Oh, dumb sea captain, you’re a hoot!


Travis Pelkie

May 5, 2011 at 1:29 am

Oh, man, these are sweet. Did they do a Showcase volume of Rip Hunter? I’m totally on that if they did.

Chris P. Bacon

May 5, 2011 at 2:43 am

If Martin Craig is 25, he’s in his 26th year and the curse should have no effect on him, so Hunter’s investigations are all for naught!

That! writer! sure! likes! exclamation! points!

Andrew Collins

May 5, 2011 at 7:00 am

That! writer! sure! likes! exclamation! points!

“As was the style at the time”

That! writer! sure! likes! exclamation! points!

Back then just about every comic did. The logic was that the printing process was so poor that periods wouldn’t show up very well, unless it was multiple periods in a row like ellipses. That’s hardly unique to this comic.

I love the letter from Hengest. That could have been a gooffy moment all in itself.

I was surprised to learn in school that the exclamation point was not the most common punctuation mark! And the more exclamation points, the more excited and emphatic the sentence!! But I still think this way!!!!

Those are pretty funny. And I agree with jazzbo, I thought the letter from Hengest was going to be the goofy moment.

Billy Bissette

May 5, 2011 at 10:44 am

I’m not sure about Rip’s flip-flop in #3. Is it even possible for Rip to change the timeline? Saving the birdmen still didn’t save them in the long run.

Why does it matter?

If Rip cannot make long term changes, then he isn’t saying that it is dangerous to prove Hengest’s innocence, but rather that it is physically impossible to prove it (because history is already set.) If that is the case, then it isn’t really a flip-flop. It is Rip telling the professor that it cannot be done, the professor not believing Rip, and Rip deciding to humor the professor rather than argue with him. Rip obviously likes to time travel (even to potentially dangerous situations with women and kids at his side), so he’d probably prefer to go back in time to prove his point rather than sit around arguing theory only to have the professor never believe him anyway.

Now, if Rip *can* make real changes to history, then yes, it is a pretty nutty flip-flop.

I thought the note in Modern English was the funniest part. But then, everybody always seems to speak English in these types of stories, no matter where or when they’re from.

Does Rip Hunter pre-date Doctor Who?

Yeah, that’s why I didn’t bother with it being goofy – it’s just a convention of the series. You know, like they’ll go to 14th Century Denmark and everyone speaks English.

I know very little about the early Rip Hunter (I’ve seen only a few reprinted stories). Still, a series with Time Travel as it base premise can never hope not to contradict itself at some point (even Dr. Who has suffered from that.) And here, it was like the writer wasn’t even trying: “I have an idea! I’ll have Rip investigate if a curse is true! Never mind why or how!”

It should be noted that in DC Comics (Pre-Crisis) it was eventually established that you couldn’t change history, period (though that may have been after this series, or before Rip Hunter was included officially as part of the DC Universe) Time Travel was thus only really useful to observe the past in person, making it glorified tourism kind of like we see here. (Btw how come everybody spoke Modern English in the past?)

Does Rip Hunter pre-date Doctor Who?

Yes, Rip Hunter debuted in 1959, about four years prior to Doctor Who.

As far as I know he didn’t start crossing over with the rest of the DCU until the 1970s (in a big way, teaming up with the Challengers of the Unknown, Deadman and Swamp Thing at the same time), but I could be forgetting something earlier than that.

Yeah, that’s why I didn’t bother with it being goofy – it’s just a convention of the series. You know, like they’ll go to 14th Century Denmark and everyone speaks English.

To me it wasn’t goofy because of the perfect modern English. That’s a convention in Star Trek and Dr Who and countless others, where everyone speaks modern English no matter what the planet or era.

I thought it was goofy because it was so damn convenient and contrived…the guy just writes a note addressed to no one in particular, just to gloat about not being a traitor, and then puts it in an airtight container where it remains unfound for 15 centuries? It just seems funny, “Let me write a note. What should it say? ‘HAW HAW! I’m not a traitor! LOLZ’ Now what should I do? Send it to someone? Naw, I’ll just put it in a vacuum-sealed bottle.”

Anonymous was me.

Omar Karindu

May 5, 2011 at 2:12 pm

I’m afraid T. will have to get Rip Hunter to take us back in time and prove he was Anonymous.

Brian Cronin

May 5, 2011 at 2:15 pm

That sounds like it would be right up Rip’s alley!

Brian Cronin

May 5, 2011 at 2:19 pm

As for his note, I left out part of the story. You see, as it turns out, he actually was betraying BOTH sides to some aliens who were invading (and yes, that is pretty goofy – but aliens invading was such a constant at the time that I figured it wouldn’t be worth featuring), so that is why he felt it necessary to have that as “proof” (he, of course, not knowing that his own people were about to kill him before he could show it to them).

…and of course the note is on regular paper and written in convenient block letters…couple of years later Stan Lee would at least have bothered to throw in couple of thees and thous or put Reed to have some kind of autotranslator which would have scanned the original parchment and then printed out a convenient letter of the type we see here…

And I laughed at “They all died unhappily ever after”.

I’m afraid T. will have to get Rip Hunter to take us back in time and prove he was Anonymous.


As for his note, I left out part of the story. You see, as it turns out, he actually was betraying BOTH sides to some aliens who were invading (and yes, that is pretty goofy – but aliens invading was such a constant at the time that I figured it wouldn’t be worth featuring), so that is why he felt it necessary to have that as “proof” (he, of course, not knowing that his own people were about to kill him before he could show it to them).

In a strange way, that extra information makes the note both more goofy AND less goofy.

The goofiest Rip Hunter moment that I know of (and the one of which I most sentimentally fond) occurs in Showcase #20, amid the fantastic and epic yarn that is “Prisoners of 1,000, 0000 BC”.

Rip and the gang find themselves on the run from a wildly improbable stampede of a great host of incongruous dinosaurs…. the whole gang is there from Triceratops, Brontosaurus and old T-Rex himself. The is pretty great, but greater still is when Rip defeats the T-Rex by hauling his white t-shirt off his back and wrapping it around the T-Rex.s head, thus blinding it.

Even as a youngin’ first reading that comic, it struck me that either that is one miniature variety of T-Rex or Rip wears a size XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXL t-shirt.

Wow. These are fantastic.

‘They all died.’ Love how casual he is about this. Another great column.

In #3, Rip´s arm suddenly became that of a child!!

I like how it never dawns on Rip that this cooky professor might have just written the note himself.

So many fails!

The whole “saving people in the past” scenario seems doomed since whatever happened to them already happened.

Why not investigate whether the volcano sank the island? Because that would be too scientific and not “sexy” enough?

How about investigating whether Jesus rose from the dead? Or what exactly happened during the key moments of history? Are curses really the best use of one’s time-travel resources?

Oh, yeah…the gang also discovered an unknown race of bird-men. Might that be worthy of a little scrutiny? Or are other matters more pressing?


HIlarious! Doesn’t look like they have a Showcase for it though.

yeah this should have been a Showcase volume years ago.

Actually, item 2 isn’t necessarily as goofy as all that. After all, they’re not trying to prove to themselves that the curse is fake – they’re trying to prove it to the father-in-law. In the first sequence, they know that the curse is fake, but don’t appear to have any concrete evidence to bring back with them – just their own word, which seems unlikely to do the deed. However, at the end of the story, they have a physical object they’re taking back to the future with them. Not that I’m sure how they’ll prove that a book that (presumably) is in pristine condition is really over 1000 years old….

The truly goofy part is that Rip never DID invent a time machine. What he’s adventuring in is a room-sized LSD vaporizer. He knew early on that altering time was impossible, even to the extent of being PRESENT in an era where you didn’t exist, but he really REALLY liked being called “Time Master” instead of “Rip Hunter, PhD.”. So…all aboard the Acid Express, folks.

Why didn’t that idiot in the Ben Franklin glasses just publish the note he found? Wouldn’t THAT earn him plenty of acclaim in the historical community AND also be the proper thing to do? Even ignoring the potential for universe-crashing paradoxes, this guy’s a real sleazy historian.

Not only does Rip anticipate Doctor Who, Bonnie and Corky cast a long shadow over two other celebrated pop-fiction titans: Trixie and Spritle.

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