Who are DCs Time Masters and what is the Divine Continuum?

In the opening pages of Flashpoint Beyond #0 (opens in new tab), Batman infiltrates a strange hideout containing artifacts from decades of DC stories. He’s seeking a watch that belonged to Janey Slater from the Watchmen (opens in new tab) universe and has enlisted Doomsday Clock (opens in new tab) characters Mime and Marionnette to help. 

Though the trio manages to find it, there’s one artifact that they all gloss over: a picture of a DC team dating back to the Silver Age. This picture becomes important when one of its subjects enters the story in a big way, and the mysterious hideout and all the artifacts within begin to make a whole lot of sense. 

Spoilers ahead for Flashpoint Beyond #0

That team is the Time Masters, and at the end of the issue, their youngest member Corky Baxter shows up in the Batcave. Corky warns Batman that his investigation is going to “open a can of worms” when it comes to the DC timestream, and if Batman continues what he’s doing, Corky and the Time Masters are “going to make [him] eat them…”

The worms, that is.

But just who are the Time Masters? Where do they come from, and what does their appearance in Flashpoint Beyond #0 mean for the DCU? Here’s what we know.

Who are the Time Masters?

Time Masters in DC comics

(Image credit: DC)

If you’re a fan of the CW’s Arrowverse shows, you may recall the TV version of the Time Masters as a council of authorities in the show DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, who govern the laws of time travel and often have dubious reasons for doing so, similar to the TVA in the Loki streaming series. 

And also similar to the TVA’s ‘Sacred Timeline’, Flashpoint Beyond #0 indicates that the returning comic book Time Masters may have their own term for the entirety of all aspects of DC continuity from the Multiverse, to the Metaverse, the Dark Multiverse, the Omniverse and beyond: the Divine Continuum (get it? Divine Continuum = DC).

While the CW’s Time Masters share some fleeting similarities with their source material, they are almost nothing like the comic book superteam of the same name.

The Time Masters are a different kind of superteam because, unlike many of the teams in DC, they’re not superheroes per se.

Time Masters in DC comics

(Image credit: DC)

(opens in new tab)

Though their exploits are often heroic, the Time Masters originally served as time-traveling adventurers, with identities that are known to all characters in the DCU. Those identities are, in no particular order, Jeffrey Smith, tough-guy and team engineer; Bonnie Baxter, brilliant historian and team guide; Corky Baxter, Bonnie’s little brother; and the Time Master’s captain, Rip Hunter. 

Rip Hunter and his team of time travelers were created by Jack Miller and Ruben Moreira, making their first appearance in 1959’s Showcase #20 (opens in new tab), the same title that introduced Barry Allen/Flash earlier that year, with Hal Jordan/Green Lantern soon to follow. 

Rip, who invented the history-hopping Time Sphere device, led the team on many adventures in the series Rip Hunter… Time Master (opens in new tab), which was published by DC from 1961 to 1965. After the cancellation of that book, the Time Masters returned as special guests in a number of other series, transporting popular characters like Superman throughout time in the pages of their own comics.

Then in 1985’s reality rewriting event Crisis on Infinite Earths (opens in new tab), the history of the Time Masters changed forever, and with it, the history of DC.

The Time Masters in the DC Universe

Time Masters in DC comics

(Image credit: DC)

In the seminal comic event Crisis on Infinite Earths, the DC Universe was under threat from the Anti-Monitor, a cosmic entity that sought to destroy not just the main continuity, but the entirety of DC’s Multiverse. 

The heroes were able to track down the origins of this universe-gobbling baddie, discovering its beginnings all the way back at the dawn of time. Their only hope of defeating the beast was to travel back to its home turf, and the device that allowed them to do it was the Time Sphere.

DC’s multiverse-spanning heroes were able to defeat the Anti-Monitor, thanks in no small part to the use of the Time Master’s main ride. 

However, the villain’s end came at a high price. It caused DC’s original multiverse to collapse, folding in decades of alternate-world stories into one (very temporary) timeline.

Time Masters in DC comics

(Image credit: DC)

(opens in new tab)

Sadly, Time Masters Bonnie, Jeff, and Corky were all erased from reality, leaving Rip all alone save for memories of a universe that now never really existed.

Then, in 1990, DC decided to bring back updated versions of Rip’s original pals, creating a new, slightly grittier team of Time Masters. 

In this series, the team were more outright superheroes, defending the timeline from villains that sought to disrupt it. The book deputized multiple DC heroes as honorary members of the Time Masters, including Batman, Animal Man, and the lesser-known Waverider, whose specialty was also time travel. The series lasted for eight issues, and once again, the Time Masters became popular guest stars for other characters’ stories.

Unfortunately, the second incarnation of the Time Masters would not last for very long. The team went through a series of devastating events including the suicide of Corky Baxter, and as DC came into the new millennium, Rip Hunter once again found himself alone.

A History ‘Ripped’ Apart

Time Masters in DC comics

(Image credit: DC)

In the intervening years, Rip made appearances in several major DC events, including Zero Hour (opens in new tab) and The Kingdom (opens in new tab).

In the aftermath of the story Infinite Crisis (opens in new tab) (which birthed a new DC multiverse), Rip played a quiet but integral role in the weekly comic 52 (opens in new tab)

In 52, Rip investigates a series of time crimes, including the murder of former teammate Waverider. His investigations are recorded in his lab on a regular green chalkboard that contained tantalizing hints of what was in store for the DCU, which is found by fellow time traveler Booster Gold.

52 panel

(Image credit: DC)

(opens in new tab)

DC’s next big Multiverse-redefining event story Final Crisis introduced a fully superhero version of the Time Masters formed in the spin-off title Time Masters: Vanishing Point, this time including Superman, Hal Jordan, and Booster Gold, with Rip Hunter leading the team on the hunt for Bruce Wayne, who was lost in time.

When that incarnation of the Time Masters disbanded, Rip continued his lone exploits through the history of the DCU, appearing in both Convergence (opens in new tab) and the original Flashpoint (opens in new tab) (which lends its name to Flashpoint Beyond) before winding up stranded in a possible post-apocalyptic future, where he was trying to restart his Time Sphere and get back to the past. 

Flash(point) Forward

Flashpoint Beyond #0 panel

(Image credit: DC)

Seeing Corky appear in the Batcave means the Time Masters, and likely their previously-stranded captain, are headed back to the main DC continuity. However, what we don’t know is which version of the Time Masters we’re going to get. 

Corky is, of course, alive, which seems to eliminate the possibility of the second, grittier version of the team. Plus, he’s outfitted in the same way his Silver Age incarnation was, which could hint that the original Time Masters survived or have somehow returned from their erasure in Crisis on Infinite Earths. 

After all, DC has spent the last several years restoring virtually all continuity prior to and after the original Crisis, even when that continuity conflicts with each other.

The upcoming Dark Crisis event pulls directly from Crisis, so it would make sense that something like their disappearance could get rewritten.

However, a look back at the mysterious hideout in the first pages of Flashpoint Beyond #0 reveals it to be another possible lab of Rip Hunter circa the time of 52.

Flashpoint Beyond #0 panel

(Image credit: DC)

(opens in new tab)

Just like that series, readers can get hints of what’s to come from a similar green chalkboard. Was that chalkboard written on by the Post-Crisis Rip Hunter? And if so, what does he know about his own comic book past, and more importantly, it’s future?

Whatever role Corky, Rip, and the other Time Masters will play in the events of Flashpoint Beyond, Newsarama will be watching for them. Keep an eye on our homepage for more on the Time Masters and all the timeline-shifting, reality-warping events to come in DC Comics.

Rip and the Time Masters have seen their share of DC Crisis events; do you think they have a favorite? Probably not (Crises don’t go great for them), but that didn’t stop Newsarama from ranking those same events. Check it out by clicking the link.

About Fox

Check Also

Digital comics platform Zestworld enters open beta as it refines its creator-first approach

Creator-first digital comics platform Zestworld is moving into an open beta phase with a new …

Leave a Reply