Tim was born as a conduit for the raw magic that shared the name of the most famous magician to serve it; "The Merlin". In order to increase his power and his legend, the Merlin arranged for Tim to have multiple, contradictory stories about his birth that nonetheless were each equally true. He was at one and the same time the illegitimate son of Tamlin the Falconer and Titania the Queen of Faerie, the son of Tamlin and a beautiful human girl called Mary and any number of other possible origins. At some point, these multiple origins converged and Tim ended up being raised in the Mundane World by William Hunter and Mary - although he later discovered that his mother Mary wore a glamour stone hiding her true nature and appearance, possibly as the brownie Bridie who smuggled him to Earth at Queen Titania's request or possibly another as yet undiscovered origin for the young magician.
As an infant, Tim still had access to his powers as an Opener, for example bringing imaginary friends like Awn the Blink or the Wobbly to life - and claiming and reshaping Tanger and Crimple, who had already served numerous Openers in numerous forms throughout history. He also unconsciously created thousands of alternate worlds with thousands of alternate Tim's. Each of these Tims was a portion of the original, the part that felt particular feelings or suffered particular pain that the original could cope with, and in separating them Tim loses the ability to feel those feelings again, leaving him disconnected from his world and his feelings for most of his childhood and teenage years. One particular early trauma was the death of his mother in a car accident: his father was the driver of the vehicle, losing an arm in the accident and retreating into his grief so far that he spent most of Tim's life sitting in his armchair drinking and watching old films.
As he started to grow up, Tim started to attract the attention of mystic groups such as the Cult of the Cold Flame, who wanted to seduce him into becoming a force for evil. Indeed, at this point Tim's destiny was at a crossroads: he could become the greatest magician of his age for good or for evil, or indeed never learn of the world of magic at all. In order to resolve this ambiguity - and hopefully prevent his turning to evil - a group of mystics jokingly called The Trenchcoat Brigade set out to offer Tim the chance to learn all about magic. Tim agrees to be taught, and then make his decision about whether to let magic into his life or not. The Phantom Stranger is his guide to the past of the DC Universe, where he meets with many important figures of the past including an Atlantean sorcerer who warns him away from magic, a young Merlin and Jason Blood prior to being bonded to Etrigan, Zatara (father of modern day hero Zatanna) and Sargon the Sorcerer before being returned to the present. Tim is then passed over to John Constantine, who shows him the present world of magic, traveling to America to meet Madame Xanadu, the Spectre and his (then) host Jim Corrigan, Baron Winters and an adult Jason Blood. When the Trenchcoat Brigade discover that Tim is in imminent danger from the Cult of the Cold Flame, Constantine leaves the boy in the care of Zatanna whilst they face the cult in Calcutta. The female magician makes quite an impression on the young boy, and comes to play an important role in his later life.
With the cult seemingly destroyed, Doctor Occult takes Tim to the plains of existence that border the Mundane World, such as The Dreaming and Faerie. Whilst there, Queen Titania lays a number of subtle snares to try to trap Tim with her - snares which he manages to impress her by almost accidentally avoiding. Mister E then shows Tim several possible futures - including the coming magical war that Tim will play such an important role in - and attempts to kill him at the end of time. Tim is saved by the intervention of Death of the Endless, who sends him home before she turns the lights out on the universe. His journey complete, Tim is offered the choice of whether to accept magic in his life or not: he declines, immediately regretting his choice. However, he has been duped: his choice was made when he agreed to learn about magic, and his future destiny is now assured.
Coming to terms
Left back in his old life, Tim becomes disillusioned with a magic that seemed to have deserted him - until he is kidnapped and tested by the falconer Tamlin, taken to a dying corner of Faerie and left to find his own way home. Once there he is invited to join the realm of Free Country, where children go and never grow old, but eventually declines the offer. Instead, he returns home to a brief reunion with Tamlin, where he only discovers that the man may be his father after the falconer is dragged to Faerie to face Titania. In trying to follow him, Tim ends up trapped in a corner of the realm walled off by the Manticore and injured as he defeats the creature: his blood contains such power that it restores Faerie, but Tamlin is forced to sacrifice his own life in order to save Tim from the effects of the Manticore's venom. However, as Tim lies dying he meets Death again, who manages to make him see that whoever his parents are, he is still the same boy.
Tim tries to get on with his normal life, slowly realizing that his neighbor Molly has feelings for him when she grows jealous of a new girl at school, Leah - in truth a succubus that Tim helps to set free from her master. She helps him through some difficult times as his father is badly burned by the last survivor of the Cult of the Cold Flame, and as he discovers that Titania may be his mother (although this is called into doubt again by her husband Auberon declaring that Tim has no Faerie blood in him): their love grows so strong that when Molly ends up kidnapped and taken to Hell, their reunion when Tim rescues her fills the realm with red roses.
However, their relationship suffers a fatal blow when Tim discovers that Molly has learned that a future version of Tim sells his soul to a demon called Barbatos and entertains himself by abusing multiple versions of her. Desperate not to hurt Molly, Tim allows the amoral Circe to tattoo him with two magical "maps" designed to protect his girlfriend - and then decides to run away from home to protect his loved ones from the dangers of his magic. Tim manages to remove the scorpion tattoo - which stings him whenever he gets angry - but the moth tattoo - which keeps him emotionally distant and unable to form relationships - stays with him for some time.
Deciding that he needs a mentor to teach him magic, Tim remembers Zatanna and sets out on a road trip across America to find her. Along the way, he meets Leah again and shares a night kissing under the stars with her before magic intervenes and the succubus is transformed into a mermaid and trapped in another realm to save Tim from dying. Perhaps because of the influence of the moth tattoo, or because of the loss of so many of his other selves to alternate worlds, Tim doesn't even search for her when he wakes, simply continuing his journey to Zatanna. Because of his inate bond with the realm, Tim wanders into Faerie and is reunited with Molly before they leave together and eventually find Zatanna. The magician tries to teach Tim to pay attention to what's going on around him, rather than waste his life chasing magic, but she ultimately fails: when Molly - already disappointed with Tim for not caring how her own adventures in Faerie have affected her - discovers that he didn't trust her enough to tell her about his night with Leah, she breaks up with him and returns home to her family.
The split sends Tim into a downward spiral, but does ultimately result in the removal of the moth tattoo: more connected with the world again, Tim realizes that he doesn't need his magic and releases it. Unfortunately, this only causes more problems when the angels and the demons - both being manipulated by Shivering Jemmy of the Shallow Brigade of Chaos - go to war over who will possess the freed power. The battles disrupt Tim's father's second marriage to a woman called Holly, until Tim manages to give Jemmy what she was truly looking for and end the fighting.
Back to Normal
Tim's new family - including a step-brother called Cyril - try to settle back to normality, while Tim enjoys his new freedom from magic. Then he finds the box that Leah used to live in: picking it up, he finds himself sucked inside it and trapped inside a small square of ground in a vast forest. He spends a lifetime there, talking to a tree that grew from a seed that fell inside his patch of ground. When a fire starts to destroy the forest, Tim's anger puts him back in touch with his magic as he tries desperately to save his one tree... and then finds himself returned outside the box, not a second older than the moment he was first trapped inside it.
Waiting for him is Leah, who trapped him in the box in the hope of teaching him an important lesson about his magic. But the lesson hasn't been learnt in the way that she hoped, because of Tim's focus on the small scale: it wasn't the destruction of the forest that prompted him to reconnect with his magic, but the threat to the single tree. Exasperatingly, Leah cannot even decide if Tim is wholly wrong in thinking that way. Instead, she leaves Tim with the important reminder that he might try to throw away his magic, but he will never wholly succeed: it is a part of him, and always will be.
Perhaps a little wiser, Tim begins school at Bardsley boarding school - Cyril's school - where he forms a strong bond with their newest teacher, Thomas Currie. Currie teaches Tim about more than most teachers, however: he is the creation of one of the alternate Tim's created in Tim's childhood, and teaches about the thousands of alternate worlds and how they were created - and how they are being slowly destroyed by Tim's Other, an alternate version of the boy who wants to kill him and take his place as the true Tim Hunter. Currie hopes that he will have years to teach Tim the magic he will need to defeat his Other, but the Other arrives shortly after him and ruins any chance of a reconciliation with Molly before causing the deaths of Tim's step-mother, his father and finally his new teacher as Thomas Currie manipulates Tim into creating another alternate Tim so that together they can fight and die to convince the Other that he is the true Tim.
With his magic now truly gone - syphoned off and hidden away by Currie until Tim has the mastery to reclaim it - Tim sets off to follow the instructions left by his teacher in where to go to learn magic. However, he is blackmailed into taking Cyril with him: when Cyril gets his foot stuck in a train track, Tim makes no attempt to save him - and when he saves himself, Cyril makes off with all of Tim's instructions. With nowhere to go, Tim wanders aimlessly through the gateways between the worlds that the Other had forced open with his usurped power before ending up at the Inn Between the Worlds, using his mother's glamour stone to disguise himself as a girl called Mary.
Return to Magic
Living as Mary and working at the Inn, Tim becomes best friends with a girl called Joh - a relationship complicated when she sees him as Tim and falls in love with him, forcing Tim to admit the truth. The two are forced to flee, however, when the Wild Hunt - a god-killing band of hunters trapped for two-thousand years by a compact of rulers from Heaven, Faerie, Hell and other realms - are manipulated by a disguised Auberon into hunting Tim and destroying the Inn. Scared and alone, Joh and Tim find some comfort from each other, with Tim losing his virginity to his friend - thinking that he had always assumed his first time would be with someone else.
Tim manages to avoid his fate at the hands of the Hunt only by challenging and defeating their leader and taking up his position, having to learn to kill a living creature so that he can lead them. He then returns to Earth to reclaim his magic and defeat the Other to reverse the damage done in opening all the gates between the worlds, giving up his leadership of the hunt by allowing another member to challenge and defeat him in non-mortal combat.
Reclaiming His Destiny
In order to defeat the Other, Tim needs the help of the demon Barbatos - help which he can only obtain by selling a memory and sealing his fate as discovered by Molly. Tim faces up to his responsibilities, and sacrifices his future: Barbatos takes the memory of Tim's creation of his Other, making it impossible for the Other to exist separately from Tim and the many separate pieces of Tim are reunited for the first time in his life. Tim's soul is immediately forfeit to Barbatos, and he becomes his slave, spending his life living in a cardboard box torturing alternate versions of Molly while Barbatos uses his power for his own ends. Tim, now known as Sir Timothy Hunter, is eventually killed when Barbatos forces him to travel back in time to ensure that the young Tim grows up to be the demon's slave: the older Tim is killed by an outburst of the younger Tim's anger, and the demon is defeated and trapped in the Dreaming.
Forty years later, Barbatos is released and allowed to return to hell. Once free, the demon discovers the true nature of Tim's apparent defeat: the boy had hidden his soul inside the memory Barbatos took and once inside the demon it slept, slowly taking complete control of Barbatos' body until Tim owned it completely, remodeling it with his magic to resemble his own at the age of fourteen. As he took complete control, Tim looked out on the Other's ruined home finally grown-up and ready to face whatever challenges the future held with "no more whining".
Tim soon became the target of various groups seeking to kill him, and in his panic called out to the Trenchcoat Brigade for help. They advised him to enroll at the White School, where he would not only be safe but would be taught about magic. All he needed to do was speak his true name, and the gates would open and allow him in: unfortunately, when he tried "Timothy Hunter" they stayed firmly shut. Tim set off to try and discover his true name, learning from Titania that she had named her child Tamar, son of Tamlin, before he ended up in Merlin's ice caves and learned about his unique origins. Together, they defeated Tim's enemies and the young magician spoke his collection of true names to open the gates to the White School.
Tim studied at the school for many years, meeting and becoming involved with a Lakelander girl called Kalesh after saving her from being killed by mercenaries on Gemworld.
- Sorcery: Although he still has much to learn, one of the futures seen by Mister E indicates that Tim has the mystical potential to become the most powerful sorcerer on Earth. Books of Magic #4
- Glamour Stone (formerly)
- Fans of The Books of Magic had noted that Tim Hunter share some similarities to the protagonist of J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter series since the publication of the first book in 1997: both are normal, bespectacled teenage boys who have lost their mothers, and discover that they are destined to become powerful magicians while gaining an owl as a pet. Neil Gaiman, in his interview with the The Scotsman when questioned that Rowling was aware of The Books of Magic, stated he "wasn't the first writer to create a young magician with potential, nor was Rowling the first to send one to school". The similarities to Harry Potter is later raised again from a story in the Daily Mirror reporting that Gaiman had accused Rowling of plagiarism being repeated in the Daily Mail. In response, Gaiman has stressed that the story was untrue, and repeats his belief that Rowling had not read The Books of Magic and that the similarities most likely result from both being inspired by similar works, in particular those of T. H. White.
- 96 Appearances of Timothy Hunter (New Earth)
- 47 Images featuring Timothy Hunter (New Earth)
- 1 Quotations by or about Timothy Hunter (New Earth)
- Character Gallery: Timothy Hunter (New Earth)
This character exists under the Vertigo Imprint which is intended for Mature Readers. Vertigo titles although they may cross over into regular DC continuity.
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