Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Who's Who: Time Trapper

Time Trapper
by Russell & Siskoid

Real Name: Varies
Super-Power(s): Mastery over time
Planet of Origin: Varies
Relationship to Legion: Villain; possibly the Legion's creator

Legion Log
The Time Trapper is the Legion of Super-Heroes' most powerful and mysterious enemy. He boasted that he had total mastery of time. He was able to warp it in order to overlay it, travel freely through it, and break it into different flows in order to create numerous parallel time-lines. The Time Trapper lived in a remote fortress at the literal "end of time," where he could monitor all time lines and all characters in what he eventually considered to be a huge chronal chess game.

During the Silver and Bronze Ages of the Legion,  no origin or background information was ever given as to who or what the Time Trapper was. During a later adventure in an alternate time line he claimed to be a renegade Controller, the race that had created the Sun-Eater and the Miracle Machine. This Time Trapper was robbed of his powers by Darkseid during The Great Darkness Saga. Later, the Time Trapper reappeared and made it clear that the Controller was only a tool being used by the true Time Trapper. We then never learned anything else about who he was.

To make matters more complicated, Wonder Woman faced a foe calling himself the Time Master in a story published six years before the Time Trapper made his debut in Adventure Comics. Much later, in an issue of Super Friends it is established that the Time Master and the Time Trapper are the same person, even though the Time Master does not resemble a Controller.

The Time Trapper's publication history (future?) is as complicated as the character. He is first mentioned in a Legion story in the past tense, as a foe that Cosmic Boy and Sun Boy in an unpublished story had faced but had not been able to capture. He had appeared without warning, stole with impunity, then retreated into the far future behind an unbreakable time barrier the Legionnaires dubbed "the iron curtain of time." Although the Legion tried on at least three occasions to breach this barrier, they were never shown to have broken it.

The Time Trapper's first recorded attack on the Legion occurred when he came back to the 30th Century in order to steal the Legion's secret weapon, the Concentrator. He failed in this endeavor and retreated back to the future where the Legion could still not reach him.

The Time Trapper grew anxious about the lingering threat of the Legion, so sent his first lieutenant, the sorceress Glorith, back to the 30th Century to destroy them. She attempted to de-evolve several Legionnaires into primordial plasma, but only succeeded in de-aging them into infants. The Time Trapper, angry at her failure, de-evolved her instead. Brainiac 5 and Superboy managed to trap him on a prison planet after he agreed to re-age their team-mates.

Eventually the Time Trapper escaped from this prison and faced down five specific Legionnaires. He told them that in his evaluation of all time-lines he had reached the conclusion that either they had to die, or he did. Warping time around them in order to become super-powerful, the Time Trapper nearly succeeded in killing these Legionnaires. It was only through the mind-link established between them by Saturn Girl that they were able to deduce his weakness and defeat him.

When Superboy went into the future to attend the wedding of Saturn Girl and Lightning Lad, he was surprised to find himself in a militarized future he was not familiar with. The Legion deduced that the Time Trapper had somehow altered the "true" time line, and they went to the end of time in order to confront him. He defeated them with his superior weaponry, then revealed to them that he was a Controller. He attempted to kill them all using the Miracle Machine, but because it was powered by mental energy, that of 22 Legionnaires was more powerful than that of one Controller, and they were able to defeat him.

The Time Trapper then re-appears in a complex scheme to trap Legionnaires in the past so that he would have a better chance of looting the 30th Century. He is blasted by one of his own futuristic cannons and fades into nothingness.

However, several years later the Time Trapper is shown to have been imprisoned behind an invulnerable inertron/photon shield on the prison planet Takron-Galtos. No information is ever given as to how the Time Trapper reappeared or how the Legion was able to capture him. Darkseid robs this Time Trapper of his powers.

It is also this latter Time Trapper that the "real" Time Trapper refutes, calling him a poor substitute. He dissolves him as he had done Glorith. The Time Trapper then begins playing a complicated mental game with the Legion, first trying to drive Lightning Lad insane, and then revealing to Cosmic Boy and Night Girl that the past they thought was true really wasn't.

The Time Trapper revealed to the Legion that the Superboy and Supergirl they thought they knew and loved were actually created by him. He explained that he had taken the explosion of Krypton and tweaked that moment in time to branch off and create a new flow, a time line that he dubbed his "pocket universe." He explained that every time the Legion thought they were going back into the past, he was guiding their time bubbles to this separate but equal time line. There never really had been a Superboy or a Supergirl in the reality that had led to the creation of the Legion 1,000 years later. Believing that he had completely demoralized his greatest foes by sharing this knowledge, the Time Trapper returned to the end of time and re-created his iron curtain of time.

However, the Time Trapper had completely misread the determination of the Legionnaires. Using Brainiac 5's intellect, they finally succeeded in breaking through the time barrier and faced the Time Trapper on his home ground. They let lose the power of the Infinite Man, then stood back as the two embodiments of time theory destroyed each other.

After the so-called Five-Year Gap, Brainiac 5 learned that the Time Trapper's essence had survived in Mon-El's mind. Mon-El then murdered the Trapper in the Pocket Universe, which caused a chain reaction throughout time and resulted in the sorcerer Mordru dominating the universe for a time, but Mordru's former apprentice Glorith, through a magical spell, managed to take the Trapper's place in history and it was revealed that the Time Trapper had originally engineered the creation of the Legion in order to halt the inevitable rise of Mordru. However it is eventually revealed that the Time Trapper had managed to survive and was probing Glorith's mind in an effort to regain his power. Enraged by this violation of her person, Glorith confronted the Time Trapper in the remains of his Pocket Universe and literally consumed him, effectively becoming the Time Trapper.

The Time Trapper returned, however, just in time to seemingly be killed by Parallax during the Crisis in Time known as Zero Hour, when he was revealed to be Cosmic Boy, having aged and continually been renewed by magic over the universe's lifespan, and was confirmed responsible for the creation of the temporal clones known as the SW6 Legion.

After the Reboot, the Trapper was apparently reconstructed with the universe, but though he did not intervene to ensure the creation of the post-Zero Hour Legion, he did briefly bedevil them with memories of their previous incarnations. The identity of this incarnation remains unconfirmed; some evidence suggests that it may be a future version of Lori Morning.

The Time Trapper never appeared in the Threeboot series, but would later infer that his machinations were ultimately responsible for the Reboot, Threeboot and Retroboot.

After Infinite Crisis, the Time Trapper's original history has more or less been restored (if that is possible), though he now apparently tried to destroy the Legion in its infancy by killing its financier, R.J. Brande. When various timelines' Legions met during the events of the Final Crisis, he uses Superboy-Prime, which he views as a corrupted Superman, as a tool to destroy the link between Superman and the Legion. He brings Superman and the Legion founders to the end of time, where he attempts to kill them and is revealed to be an older Superboy-Prime. Brainiac 5 theorizes that the Trapper is in fact an alternate, sentient timeline whose identity changes constantly as the true timeline marches on, explaining the multiple identity changes he has gone through in each incarnation. Prime refused to believe that the Trapper was his future self and punched him, creating a blinding flash that sent Prime back to Earth-Prime and destroyed that incarnation of the Trapper.

The Time Trapper appears as the main antagonist in the animated film JLA Adventures: Trapped in Time, voiced by Corey Burton, and was the main villain in four linked adventure modules for Mayfair Games' DC Heroes Role-Playing Game - Pawns of Time, Knight to Planet 3, Mad Rook's Gambit, and King For All Time.

Defining Villainous Moment: 

Superboy/Legion of Super-Heroes #223
The Time Trapper is able to multiply his power by shifting through time

Important Time Trapper Stories:

Wonder Woman (v1) #101
 (reprinted in Wonder Woman (v1) #217, 
Wonder Woman Amazon Princess Archives Vol. 1, 
and Showcase Presents Wonder Woman Vol. 1)
Wonder Woman meets the Time Master 

Adventure Comics (v1) #317
 (reprinted in Legion of Super-Heroes Archives Vol. 2
and Showcase Presents The Legion Vol. 1)

The Time Trapper faced the Legion in an untold story, 
then escaped behind an "iron curtain of time"

Adventure Comics (v1) #318
 (reprinted in Legion of Super-Heroes Archives Vol. 3
and Showcase Presents The Legion Vol. 1)
Mon-El and Superboy cannot break through the time barrier set up by the Time Trapper

Adventure Comics (v1) #321
 (reprinted in Legion of Super-Heroes Archives Vol. 3
and Showcase Presents The Legion Vol. 1)
Even working with Ultra Boy, the time barrier cannot be pierced
The Time Trapper comes to the Legion's era to steal the Concentrator

Adventure Comics (v1) #322
 (reprinted in Legion of Super-Heroes Archives Vol. 3
and Showcase Presents The Legion Vol. 2)
The entire Legion makes plan to follow the Time Trapper into the future

Adventure Comics (v1) #338
 (reprinted in Legion of Super-Heroes Archives Vol. 4
and Showcase Presents The Legion Vol. 2)
The Time Trapper tries to destroy several Legionnaires but only succeeds in turning them into infants

Superboy/Legion of Super-Heroes #223
 (reprinted in Legion of Super-Heroes Archives Vol. 12)
The Time Trapper folds time in on itself in an attempt to increase his power

Limited Collectors' Edition C-55
The Time Trapper claims to be another renegade Controller

Superfriends #17
It's established that the Time Trapper is also known as the Time Master

Superfriends #18
The Time Trapper attempts to destroy the past to control the present and future 

Superfriends #46
The Time Trapper is knocked out by the Wonder Twins 

Legion of Super-Heroes (v2) #280-282


The Time Trapper attempts to divide and conquer the Legion

Legion of Super-Heroes (v2) #291
Darkseid steals power from the Time Trapper

Legionnaires 3 # 1-4
The true Time Trapper disposes of the earlier surrogate, 
then begins a game of cosmic chess with the three founders

Cosmic Boy # 1-4
Cosmic Boy and Night Girl get a glimpse of how complicated 
the Time Trapper's machinations are

Legion of Super-Heroes (v3) #37
The Time Trapper sets in motion his last major gambit

Action Comics (v1) #591
The Time Trapper explains how he created his "pocket universe" 
separate from the "real world" where Superboy was real 

Legion of Super-Heroes (v3) #38
 The Time Trapper revels in what he considers his victory as the Crisis 
begins to wipe out his Smallville and several Legionnaires

Legion of Super-Heroes (v2) #50
The Time Trapper faces the Legion at the end of time

Legion of Super-Heroes (v4) #4
Mon-El calls the Time Trapper's bluff and destroys the entity responsible for the Legion's creation,
in turn creating a timeline where Mordru rules the universe

Legion of Super-Heroes (v4) #13
Glorith destroys the Time Trapper and takes his place in Legion history

Legionnaires #18, Valor #23, Legion of Super-Heroes (v4) #61
Cosmic Boy is revealed to be the Time Trapper and helps usher in a new timeline

Zero Hour: Crisis in Time #0
A new Time Trapper is born, one who may or may not be Lori Morning

Legionnaires Annual #3
The Time Trapper reminds XS of her "cosmic destiny"

Legion of Super-Heroes (v4) #100
The Time Trapper shows Brainiac 5 what the Legion would have been like
if Brainy had never joined the team

Legionnaires #61, Legion of Super-Heroes (v4) #105, 108
The Time Trapper tortures the Legion with other incarnations of itself

Plastic Man (v4) #9
Plastic Man gets involved in time travel, but this Time Trapper is, once unmasked, 
a mind-controlled Metron

Action Comics #864
The Time Trapper reveals Superman is a "blind spot" in time and vows to excise him
from Legion history

Final Crisis: Legion of 3 Worlds #5
The Time Trapper's machinations across all timelines is explained
as he sets Superboy-Prime against the various iterations of the Legion;
shocker - he is himself a future version of Prime

Legion Secret Origin #5-6
After Infinite Crisis, the Time Trapper wants to destroy the Legion by killing its financier

Legion of Super-Heroes adventure modules for DC Heroes RPG
In the 1980s, Mayfair Games published four interlocking adventure modules for the Legion
featuring the Time Trapper as the ultimate big bad

JLA Adventures: Trapped in Time
The Time Trapper was voiced by Corey Burton in this video release


  1. Like my students, when you copy from Wikipedia, you could at least remember to remove the citations in brackets.

  2. Repaired. That whole paragraph had, in fact, no business being there. I had pasted the paragraph from Wiki as reference while writing the various sections, and mistakenly left it in the text.

  3. Darkseid was by far the legions most powerful enemy beating both the omnipotent Time Trapper and Mordru !

  4. What clues suggest Lori Morning could be the time trapper? I thought Zero Hour came before her first appearances.

    1. Yes, this is post-Zero Hour. The Trapper exists within its own continuity, so the Reboot Trapper is someone from the Reboot (possibly Lori), not someone from before the Reboot. The clues are mostly related to 1) being the Trapper's #1 pawn (the Trapper has a tendency to create itself), 2) connections both verbal and visual with Glorith (look at the name) who was a replacement Trapper, and 3) Zero Hour: Crisis in Time #0's female Trapper (in the above images).

  5. Thanks, Siskoid; this helped me today.