Vanishing plot, more like, for anyone persuaded to buy this six-issue series by the Seach For Batman subtitle. Bruce Wayne has barely been referenced in this mini, which has chums Superman and Green Lantern joining time masters Rip Hunter and Booster Gold to rescue him from wherever Darkseid’s Omega Beams sent him in the Final Crisis book.
For the heroes were immediately waylaid into a team-up with obscure DC characters Claw the Unconquered and sword and science gal Starfire II (Teen Titan Koriand’r being the third, a Supergirl villain the first) against a Time Trapper wannabe, a sultry sorceress and some annoying aliens. Elsewhere in time, the villainous Black Beetle gathered versions of Despero, Ultra-Humanite and Per Degaton in his plot to get one over on rival Rip. After four issues of pointless semi-presence, the trio were sent back to whence they came by Booster’s ancestor, Supernova. Beetle didn’t care, having rescued the Linear Men – Rip’s colleagues turned opponents – from a prison in which Rip supposedly dumped them. So far, Rip’s team hasn’t even been made aware of Beetle’s brigade, never mind encountered them.
This issue Claw and Starfire are sent home by Rip, while Professor Zoom shows up for his cameo. And next? Nobody finds Batman (a safe assumption given he’s already back in the DC Universe without the aid of Rip and co).
So far this mini is a textbook example of that old comic book adage about the illusion of change – five issues filled with action, all of it inconsequential. I’ve no doubt that at the end of Time Masters everyone will be at exactly the same place as they were at the start.
But I don’t regret buying the series. Writer/artist Dan Jurgens may have been told to maintain a holding pattern, but events have been entertaining. Granted, I’ve not enjoyed his Superman, who has come across as grumpy and arrogant, or Hal Jordan, a humorless ass. But they’re barely around – this is Rip’s story, and Jurgens has slipped in new information about his boyhood with dad Booster Gold. It’s been great to see Claw and Starfire again. And Booster is, as always, well-served by his creator.
Jurgens’ pencils look great under inker Norm Rapmund – clean, expressive and dynamic – and the Hi-Fi colourist has a ball with the vibrant energies of the timestream. An impressive creative team is completed by Travis Lanham, who jollies the narrative along with his lettering.
I could never recommend this comic as unmissable – for a series that roams through all of time, it steadfastly refuses to go anywhere. But as a pleasant diversion for fans of Booster Gold and Rip Hunter with spare cash, it’s worth a read.