I checked out the first issue of Time Masters: Vanishing Point because it was being marketed as a tie-in to the Batman: Return of Bruce Wayne mini-series by Grant Morrison, which I’m thoroughly enjoying at the moment. However, as with most DC tie-in series that I’ve read in recent years, the book’s connection to the main event storyline is fairly tenuous. Instead, writer/artist Dan Jurgens uses the book to tell a story that’s at best tangential to the Rip Hunter scenes that we’ve already seen in Return of Bruce Wayne. The result is a pretty average superhero comic that’s made worse by the fact that it’s pretty inaccessible for someone who isn’t already familiar with its lead characters.
The book’s biggest problem is that Jurgens seems to assume a lot of prior knowledge on the part of the reader. He doesn’t spend much time setting up the relationship between Rip Hunter and Booster Gold (the opening pages that heavily imply that Rip Hunter is Booster Gold’s son, but the rest of the issue leaves their relationship more enigmatic) and he doesn’t establish many of the book’s large cast of characters or their relationships sufficiently clearly, perhaps assuming that you’ll just pick up enough about them on the way to get by.
The trouble is, between Rip Hunter and his crew leaping around in time trying to follow evidence of Bruce Wayne’s journey through time, a group of villains battling Booster Gold’s sister and his ancestor (from what I can work out), and the destruction of Vanishing Point at the end of time, there’s not really a solid central plot to get your teeth into here. Yes, the artwork is nice enough in a traditional sort of way, and there are a couple of fairly standard action sequences to maintain a certain level of visual excitement, but as a story it doesn’t really come together, feeling fractured and disconnected.
It doesn’t help that there are also some problems with the way that the issue connects with events that we’ve already seen play out in the pages of Return of Bruce Wayne and Batman and Robin. I can just about forgive the book for completely skipping over some moments from Return of Bruce Wayne #2 that are key to understanding this story, even though it makes the issue virtually incomprehensible for someone who wants to read this series in its own right, aside from the related event. But the way that Rip Hunter reaches his own conclusions about the trail that Bruce Wayne has left during his time travelling adventures (and recruits Superman and Green Lantern to help him locate Bruce) seems to flatly contradict what we know from Batman and Robin--that the search for Bruce was motivated by Dick Grayson putting the clues together, and calling on the Justice League for help.
Ultimately, however, I just don’t believe that this book is even worthy of such deep examination. Like all those Countdown mini-series and Final Crisis tie-ins, it’s just another cash-in marketing ploy to suck more money out of people who are enjoying one series by encouraging them to invest in another inferior book. Surely DC is going to end up losing out in the long run by putting out such a consistently poor level of supporting material for their big event books, because at this point it’d take quite a lot of convincing for me to pick up another DC tie-in, let alone another issue of this series.
What did you think of this book?
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