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Wednesday, November 15, 2023

Super Power Spotlight on the Time Sphere

What makes a hero super? The super powers! From awesome strength to zero-to-sixty speed, great superpowers are the most useful tricks in every famous costumed crime-fighter's tool kit. Michael Jon Carter knew this, and that's why he started his career with a time machine.

Dressing for Success: The futuristic super powers of Booster Gold

Power suit, energy rays, force field, flight ring... "Booster" Carter could steal every super power in the Space Museum, but none of those would make the citizens of the 25th century forget that he had committed the ultimate crime: shaving points in a college football game.

To move on with his life, Booster would have to think outside the box. He'd have to think in a sphere. Specifically, he'd have to think in Rip Hunter's Time Sphere.

© DC Comics

Rip Hunter and his distinctive time machine, the "amazing" Time Sphere, made their debut appearance in Showcase #20, 1959. He and his 20th-century companions, calling themselves Time Masters, would continue to improve the Time Sphere's design as they traveled from one end of history to the other with many adventures in between.

© DC Comics

At any given time, there were several operating spheres, any one of which could have ended up in the Space Museum of the 25th century for Booster to, um, borrow. Although Booster broke that first Time Sphere, he has since had the opportunity to use some of Hunter's other Time Spheres for other temporal journeys both with and without the Time Master, beginning in 1987's Booster Gold #13, and as recently as 2021's DC's Cybernetic Summer.

Though the story of the time-traveling globe doesn't end (or begin) there. As we will eventually learn, while Rip Hunter may have invented the Time Sphere, he certainly did not invent time travel. Or even spherical time machines.

As revealed in Booster Gold volume 2, #1,000,000 (2008), Rip Hunter is Booster Gold's son. Later issues of Time Masters: Vanishing Point will demonstrate that Rip traveled through time as a child with his father. That crates a paradox, since it's impossible that at some point in the future, Rip Hunter could have gone back in time to create the circumstances that led to his own birth.

But it's not impossible that at some point in the future, a super-intelligent alien from another planet could have traveled backwards in time and laid the groundwork for Booster to do so. That alien is Brainiac 5.

In addition to inventing the Force Field Belt and Legion Flight Ring that Booster liberated from the Space Museum, Brainiac 5 also worked with the 30th-century Time Institute, perfected the time-traveling Time Bubble that his fellow Legion of Super-Heroes would use to have time-travel adventures with Superman beginning with 1958's Adventure Comics #247.

© DC Comics

Clearly, the Time Bubble precedes the Time Sphere. Since Brainiac 5's history is in no way connected to Michael Jon Carter's, it is no stretch of the imagination to speculate that Brainiac 5 or the Legion of Super-Heroes made trips through time that somehow created the impossible sequence of events that lead to Rip Hunter appearing to create the machine necessary for his own birth. Fortunately, Brainiac 5 also has the power to resolve such space-time paradoxes.

As seen in Time Masters Vanishing Point #3, Brainiac 5 has access to the uniquly powerful Miracle Machine, a device that turns imagination into reality. With a power like that, even the most difficult paradox can be untangled with a thought.

© DC Comics

That panel makes it clear that time-traveling Rip Hunter knew Brainiac 5 from an early age, so it's probable that the future Time Master's time-machine design was influenced by the Legion of Super-Heroes' pioneering inventor. When a design works that well, why change it?

(Footnote: Amusingly, there is also a time-traveling globe from the future in 1951's Batman #67. Although the Batman of the 31st-century takes credit for inventing it, he wouldn't be the first person to steal a Time Sphere.)

If you'd like to read about other powers in Booster Gold's arsenal, check out previous spotlight posts on his Force Field Belt, Booster Shots, Flight Ring, and goggles.

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