Time travel stories are a dime a dozen, but, and this is a big but, it’s always worth checking out any time travel story from a notable writer.
Case in point: Stephen King’s fantastic 11/22/63, which used King’s writing style and weirdness to make time travel a compelling mystery plot. Well, call me crazy but when Mark Millar’s time travel comic Chrononauts was revealed I couldn’t wait. Issue number one set up the premise and characters, but his structure has left number two to show us what this comic is really going to be about. Is it good?
Chrononauts #2 (Image Comics)
Last issue we were introduced to the main protagonists Corbin Quinn and Danny Reilly who invented time travel. They were aware of time travel due to finding modern tech hidden deep inside pyramids, but now they’re really doing it with cameras rolling. It was Corbin who found a F22 jet in the pyramid, so it comes as no surprise that he mysteriously disappears the second he uses his technology to go back in time. He’s lost, so Reilly chases after him and steps right into a Mongol attack the minute he goes back in time. This issue picks up right where we left off.
Seriously how does this work?
Mark Millar has a couple compelling elements keeping this series interesting. I say this because the protagonists aren’t the most likable guys, but given the circumstances I don’t really blame them. The problem is we don’t get into their heads much nor get a feel for who they are beyond wild and crazy uninhibited jerks. That said, this series is fun because they do what any of us would at the very least contemplate doing. This issue is all about Reilly weighing a wild party lifestyle across time Quinn has to offer and then their exploits after he decides which to choose.
Like the last issue Millar doesn’t progress the plot too far in this issue but instead gives us a slice of a larger narrative. Call it a problem with most comics these days, but it does make the single issue format less satisfying. By issue’s end we’re very much worn out with the characters’ exploits and ready for the tease the cliffhanger has revealed. Essentially this issue feels more like the first quarter of an hour long TV show than a full episode.
I will say this though, this version of time travel is different enough to be worth checking out. So often time travel stories have rules upon rules or complexities that make everything less fun; here there seem to be new rules at work, but Millar and his characters don’t seem interested in explaining them. Or overexplaining them, for that matter. How for example, can a person introduce machine guns in the year 1100 without changing the future is beyond me, but Millar’s narrative keeps rolling and although it makes one question how time travel works in Millar’s world, the story remains engaging.
The art by Sean Murphy continues to be excellent and it suits the action packed plotting of the series. Frankly without such detailed and fun art this series might not be worth reading due to the lack of character development. Murphy keeps things looking sharp and fun by showing snapshots of history.
Is it Good?
The plot progresses a smidge and the characters remain flat, but the action is fun and the concept of time travel in this iteration compelling.