One of the beauties of the Back to the Future series is how it can explore the backstories of characters or probe different elements of the films. The films certainly offer plenty to chew over and this issue aims to explain an anomaly of time travel. Is it good?
Back to the Future #14 (IDW Publishing)
So what’s it about? Check out our exclusive preview and summary!
Why does this book matter?
First off, the writer of the original series, Bob Gale, has a story credit on this comic, which means it’s going to honor the films. Secondly, artist Emma Vieceli draws a solid Marty who imbues the youth and naïveté of the character. Thirdly, this issue tackles the question of what happens to versions of the themselves when they go back and change history.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
One of my favorite scenes.
Writer John Barber pens a solid script that moves at a good pace, establishes the stakes, delivers a satisfying backstory to the villain, and even gives Doc and Marty a scene together. Probably my favorite scene involved Needles and his boneheaded attempt at being tough and dissing Marty. Barber will give you a chuckle and capture the essence of these characters accurately.
The big time travel concept being explored in this issue involves the question of what happens to versions of yourself if you change the past or future. It appears Gale and Barber aim to answer that question, and judging by the cliffhanger there’s a wacky explanation. It’s always fun to see this series have a sense of humor and this one does. It’s also nice to see how Marty and Doc deal with the idea of other selves disappearing entirely. Marty accepts the conceit he could turn invisible and essentially die with fear and Doc with great interest.
Vieceli draws a great issue with a cartoony look that’s detailed. The characters look pretty close to their movie selves (Doc a bit less so) and the style suits the serious yet goofy nature of the series. When characters ghost and become see through they look fantastic and clothes and hair look natural too.
It can’t be perfect can it?
Marty doesn’t come off as very smart or heroic in this issue. Quite the contrary. When a certain character gets it in his head he could die he flips out and obsesses over it. That’s not entirely crazy considering his age, but he’s seen a lot and done a lot over the movies. This isn’t him. He’s heroic, willing to take a chance, and do whatever it takes to win! Freaking out and potentially screwing everything up because he’s letting his emotions get away with him seems off for the character. Obviously his fear is a driving force to the narrative, but it is played up too much.
The opposing scientist introduced in this issue has an interesting origin, though it isn’t all that original. It’s your stereotypical foil who could have been the hero, but missed it by an inch quite possibly because they’re evil. Luckily the character isn’t flat–he has reason to be angry, but his track is one you’ve seen before.
Is It Good?
Marty and Doc are in deep trouble (when are they not?) and explore compelling time travel conundrums. If you’re after a Back to the Future tale that bends time and space jump on now.