Comic Review – Chrononauts #1

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Adam reads as many comics as he can afford. Every week he is going to attempt a mini review of one of them, with potential minor spoilers.

This week I picked up the much-hyped Chrononauts from Image Comics. This new sci-fi series was written by Mark Millar, with art by Sean Murphy, colours by Matt Hollingsworth and letters from Chris Eliopoulos. If you listen to our podcast, you may have heard me voice opinions on what I already think about Mark Millar’s work. It isn’t that I think his writing is bad, far from it. He is a very capable writer. But generally, the comics from him I have enjoyed the most have all been Marvel work. Civil War and The Ultimates in particular I enjoyed. But when uninhibited by editorial restraints, I have tended to not enjoy his creator-owned work, often finding it overly crude, violent or offensive without actually making a point, almost glorifying certain very negative aspects. But regardless, this new series caught my eye and I thought it worth checking out.

Chrononauts is the story of Corbin Quinn and Danny Reilly, two doctors and best friends, who are set to become the world’s first time travellers. It starts with Quinn, hunting down anachronistic and chronologically displaced technology and vehicles, planes in ancient and cars being found buried under Mayan pyramids for example, and using it as proof of concept for the possibility of time travel. Soon after, he and his friend Reilly, with a team of scientists helping them, send a satellite back through time to the American Civil War, transmitting live video around the world. 18 months later, and Corbin and Danny are prepping for the first manned mission back in time, with the whole world watching with bated breath. Corbin goes through first, but is knocked off course. Danny insists on following, heading back to 1504 to rescue his friend.

I may have been a bit overly critical of Millar before, but this is a really nice first issue. There is none of the unnecessary crassness that has often put me off his independent work, instead here he tells an action packed opening that lays plenty of groundwork, has a decent amount of character set up. There is a big emphasis on bravado and bromance here, with the guys even calling themselves rock stars, but it is played up comically and doesn’t feel out of place. The feel of the story is a cross between the lunar landing and Black Science, without the success of the former or the horrible depressiveness of the latter.

Murphy’s art here is superb. I was already a big fan of his, and to be honest the art team was what sold me on this book more than the premise or the writer, so it was likely I was going to be reasonably pleased with anything he put out. There are some lovely set pieces, wide shots and backgrounds that work to show the normality of the setting and how routine what they are attempting seems to be, even though it is effectively stepping through a Stargate to another time in a fancy suit. The facial work is dark and heavy, but very expressive. The most impressive panels though are those dealing with the time travel, appearing as a burst of twisting energy for the most part, but looking really nice when it shows Danny actually stepping from the timestream or whatever it is called into his new destination. This is all beautifully realised with the help of Hollingsworth, certainly one of my favourite colourists in comics, who brings his pastel style and range to make the different time periods and time travel scenes really distinct.

Chrononauts is off to a good start, and while the story is very good it is really the gorgeous art that makes this worth picking up. Check this out at your LCS or digital comics platform.

Score: 8 Arrows out of 10