Publisher: DC Comics
First Appearance: Showcase #20 (May 1959)
Created By: Jack Miller and Ruben Moreira
Bonnie thought it would just be an ordinary day in space with her scientist boyfriend, his roughneck BFF, and her annoying kid brother. But everything changed when they were bombarded with cosmic rays, and…wait, no, that’s Sue Storm. Bonnie was part of a different crew of “Smart Guy, Strong Guy, Woman, Kid,” led by time travel expert Rip Hunter (who actually predated the Fantastic Four by a couple of years). Throughout the 60s, Bonnie – along with Rip’s buddy Jeff and Bonnie’s brother Corky – assisted Rip in his time travel adventures, vocally pining for him though Rip saw her as more of a useful lackey than a romantic prospect.
Post-Crisis, Bonnie was a graduate student in history and a TA to Professor Cave Carson – until the university discovered their affair, that is. She was kicked out of the program in order to avoid a scandal. As an apology, Cave recommended her to Rip Hunter, who was attempting to trace the Illuminati back to their source so as to destroy them and prevent a future nuclear war. That sounded totally legit to Bonnie, so she agreed to sign on as Rip’s assistant.
Life in Rip’s time bunker was interesting in a depressing kind of way, with Rip, Jeff, and eventually Cave all fighting over Bonnie, and their numerous attempts to stop the Illuminati consistently failing. Things got even worse when Corky committed suicide. Grief-stricken and frustrated, Bonnie gave up on the idea of cutting the Illuminati off at the source, and went in the other direction to see what happened after the nuclear war. There she discovered that the Illuminati were actually instrumental in rebuilding human civilization. Realizing that she could do more good there with her half of a post-grad degree and an Encarta CD-Rom, she decided to stay in the future.
So What’s So Great About Her?
So here’s the thing: Bonnie kind of got the worst of every comic book era she appeared in. In the 60s, she was essentially Rip’s lovestruck secretary, loyal and prone to tears and treated with the target audience’s perceived little-boy disdain for the opposite sex. In 1990, she was given what was presumably supposed to be a titillating makeover as her professor’s lover. Seriously, her very first appearance in that miniseries is her bursting into Cave’s office in hot pink lingerie. It’s all very “Don’t Stand So Close to Me.” She spends the rest of the series passively accepting the attentions of Rip, Jeff, and Cave, whose tension is much more between the three of them than with Bonnie; she’s just the hot babe who happens to be convenient. And of course there’s her brother, collateral damage in comics’ late 80s/early 90s grim ‘n’ gritty angstfest.
But Bonnie manages to claw her way above the crappy material she’s given to work with. I mean, to start with, how many women worked in science in the 60s? And Bonnie doesn’t just work in science, she’s part of an extremely elite and world famous team of time travellers. Rip may not want to date her, but he’s clearly recognized that she is smart and capable, or he wouldn’t have hired her. And she repeatedly saves the boys’ bacon on their various missions – no wilting flower here!
Post-Crisis, she’s even more impressive. I joked before about how little some graduate classes in history would qualify someone to help build a time machine, but that said: how awesome is it that Bonnie managed it anyway? She’s smart, she’s brave, she’s resourceful; she quickly adapts to guiding members of their group through historical eras and fighting off the assassination attempts from the Illuminati. She stands up to Rip when he tries to exclude her from missions because of her gender. And though Rip’s the Time Master (*snerk*), Bonnie’s the one who’s smart enough to abandon Rip’s impossible mission, tackle the problem from another angle, and oh yeah, save the human race. Not bad for the intended eye candy!
Rip has only been briefly mentioned in the DCnU, but here’s hoping when he appears properly, Bonnie is with him. And that she promptly dumps his ass, because she is way too good for him. Tough luck, Hunter!
Showcase #20, 21, 25, 26, 100
Rip Hunter…Time Master #1-29
Action Comics v1 #540, 552, 553
Time Masters #1-8