Chrononauts #1 Review

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by Mark Millar and Sean Murphy

Mark Millar’s next comic book hit is here!

Dr.Quinn has found several instances of archaeological anomalies (Jet Fighters and cars in ancient temples) and believes this is proof that Time Travel is possible. The entire world watches as he and Dr. Reily edge closer to actually traveling through time. Before Quinn goes through the time portal, he takes out the pocket watch his Dad gave him and calls his ex-wife lamenting his lack of personal relationships. Dr. Reily has an intense make out with his girlfriend and reassures Quinn that soon, he will be the most famous man on earth. Quinn goes through the portal intending to witness Christopher Columbus discovering America, but gets swept off course by a time wave. Reily goes after him, and emerges facing an oncoming army in Samarkand in 1504 getting shot with arrows.

I thought this issue was light on the what the premise of the series is exactly. Two friends lost in Time? A man trying to rewrite his past mistakes? While Millar’s previous books could be easily summed up, (“Superheroes in real life”, “Batman as the Joker”, “the Dark Knight Returns with Flash Gordon”) this one I’m drawing a blank on.

My theory is that Millar is using “The Marvel Method”, in which the writer provides a loose script and let’s the Artist carry most of the story, for this book and Sean Murphy focused on setting the tone. It struck me as odd that Quinn thought he had no one to say goodbye to while Reilly valued their friendship so much he dove head first to rescue him, and that Reilly seemed to be inspired by Johnny “Human Torch” Storm. Pretty rebellious for an M.I.T graduate.

My colleague @reedbeebe shared his thoughts on the book with me and I thought they were insightful enough to share with you:

“I enjoyed CHRONONAUTS. The characters at times felt like stock characters (“the over-achieving scientist”, “the bad boy buddy who should be played by that guy who played Stifler in the AMERICAN PIE movies”, “the former wife who still cares for her ex-husband”), and I thought some of the plot points were weak (so in the whole history of human archaeology, we are only just now discovering ancient sites with 20th century fighter jets? How does that work?), which were factors as to why it didn’t make THIS WEEK’S FINEST, but I also thought there was a lot of humor and some poignant moments. I enjoyed Murphy’s visual touches (I laughed at some of the “failed time machines” that he drew, a nice nod to the time travel entertainment of the past, and the action and expressions were rendered nicely), and I felt sad for Quinn as he looked at that old pocket watch his father gave him and realized how alone he was, and I thought it was endearing how determined Reilly was to rescue his time-lost friend.

I also thought it was a humorous social commentary on how we market and ‘media-tize’ everything in our society. It definitely was not a serious science fictional exploration of the implications of time travel, nor was it meant to be.”

 I take Reed’s point about Chrononauts not being a serious book about time travel, many of Millar’s books have a humorous tone behind them. However, I can see the entire world being engrossed by serious developments in time travel and actually seeing the Past as it happens.

Overall, I thought the issue was basic with some humorous moments. Murphy evokes some his work on The Wake here, with his high level of detail and sense of scale with the environments. The actual story seems a bit up in the air though, compared to Millar’s previous Image books…

Rating: Poor, Fair, Good, Great, Excellent.

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