FORGOTTEN BOOK: Rip Hunter, Time Master by Jack Miller and various artists, 1959 – 1963, 2012 collected
This is the 122nd in my series of Forgotten Books.
You can tell I am behind in reading and getting caught up with stuff for Thanksgiving because I have resorted to a comic reprint this week. This is not a bad thing. Some comics were strong influences on my life and learning as a kid.
One of the great influences was RIP HUNTER, TIME MASTER, a title I saw infrequently but one I loved. CAVE CARSON: INSIDE EARTH and SUICIDE SQUAD were others of the same ilk. RHTM was the most successful of these titles and it did not survive for very long, a mere 4 issues in SHOWCASE and 29 issues of his own title.
This current volume is part of the SHOWCASE PRESENTS series from DC Comics which reprints older issues of comics in a black and white format for a price around $20. You generally get around 25 issues of continuity and over 500 pages. This one only covers 19 issues but still reaches over 500 pages.
And what pages they are filled with art by Joe Kubert, Mike Sekowski, Nick Cardy, Alex Toth and others. The lack of a continuing artist was possibly one of the reasons the strip did not survive for long.
I learned a lot from comics when I was growing up. Comics like RIP HUNTER and the Gardner Fox titles generally slipped in historical bits that lodged deep inside my brain at various points. The first French phrase I ever learned “Le Chat Noir” (The Black Cat) I learned from an issue of THE FLASH. Rip Hunter provided insights into various older historical times usually beginning with a lesson about some artifact from that period that was an anomaly or otherwise odd.
That is not to say that Rip was a good source of history. The early stories had some good grounding in history and science (if you bought into the whole time travel thing and the translator disks and several other leaps of mental faith). But it did not take long for aliens and other planets to enter the scene and render much of the story past far-fetched.
But – I loved them. These were a great guilty pleasure as a child and still as an adult. And the SHOWCASE PRESENTS format allows me to see the various early issues which had not been reprinted before and which I did not see as a child. Distribution was pretty spotty back then. I was in Alaska and you never quite knew what might show up. I never knew how the Time Sphere was built. Not sure I still do. But I saw those missing issues. How had I missed “Prisoners of 100 Million BC” the initial appearance in SHOWCASE #20 in 1959? Or “The Secret of the Saxon Traitor” or even “The Alien Beasts From 500 BC”. Great literature? No. Fun for a young boy, you bet.
The stories are somewhat formulaic. The crew travels back to solve some unknown issue and they get separated. One or more are in peril and they have to concoct a makeshift solution using the materials of the time and solve the mystery. A few shifts here and there but that was essentially it.
You’ve seen my thoughts. I love it. Perhaps someday I will review TIMEMASTERS by Bob Wayne and Lewis Shiner a mid 80’s update to the story that was very good and which was reprinted not long ago and is deserving of a re-reread. Check them all out.
Series organizer Patti Abbott hosts more Friday Forgotten Book reviews at her own blog, and posts a complete list of participating blogs.