Chrononauts

Time is on their side

SFX: The Sci-Fi and Fantasy Magazine - - Promotion -

Re­lease Date: OUT NOW!

Pub­lisher: Im­age Comics Writer: Mark Mil­lar Artist: Sean Gor­don Mur­phy

He’s a great

ideas man, an amaz­ing self- pro­moter, and pos­si­bly the most high- pro­file comics cre­ator since Stan Lee, yet Mark Mil­lar isn’t al­ways the ideal am­bas­sador for main­stream comics. When a Mil­lar se­ries works, it’s flashy, brac­ing en­ter­tain­ment – but when it doesn’t, the re­sults can vary from bor­ingly of­fen­sive ( Neme­sis) to drea­rily bland ( Su­per­crooks).

His new se­ries Chrononauts ( al­ready op­tioned for a movie) doesn’t quite plumb those depths, but still for­gets to bring along any­thing re­sem­bling sub­tlety or charm. It’s a sci- fi ad­ven­ture that em­ploys the shal­low wish- ful­fil­ment shtick that Mil­lar has fre­quently ex­ploited in comics like Wanted, Su­pe­rior and Kick- Ass, only this time ap­ply­ing the for­mula to time- travel.

The story’s open­ing four- is­sue vol­ume fol­lows rock- star sci­en­tists Corbin Quinn and Danny Reilly as they em­bark on the first manned time- travel mis­sion, us­ing ad­vanced suits that give them the abil­ity to go any­where in history.

When an ac­ci­dent sev­ers Quinn’s com­mu­ni­ca­tions with home base, he de­cides to use time to his ad­van­tage, plun­der­ing dif­fer­ent his­tor­i­cal eras and set­ting him­self up to live like a king. Nat­u­rally, this be­hav­iour soon has ma­jor con­se­quences, and in the­ory Chrononauts should be a fun ad­ven­ture romp of the kind Mil­lar has been able to pull off be­fore.

The se­ries cer­tainly doesn’t lack strong vi­su­als, as artist Sean Gor­don Mur­phy and colourist Matt Hollingsworth pack ev­ery page with lush de­tail. Their work gives even the weaker sec­tions of the story a sense of char­ac­ter, im­pact and pol­ish, en­sur­ing that Chrononauts is al­ways a ki­netic, vis­ually invit­ing comic.

It’s just a pity their ef­forts aren’t matched by the script, as Mil­lar’s snarky ap­proach to di­a­logue and char­ac­ter­i­sa­tion can of­ten feel one- note. While he pulled off a sur­pris­ing level of heart in 2014’ s Starlight, here he’s back in slick, empty- headed ter­ri­tory with a pair of swag­ger­ing, un­like­able pro­tag­o­nists, stereo­types ga­lore and a me­chan­i­cal story that doesn’t of­fer a sin­gle gen­uine sur­prise.

From Corbin Quinn’s pre­dictable daddy is­sues to the two- di­men­sional fe­male char­ac­ters, this is a comic that feels like it’s go­ing through the mo­tions rather than of­fer­ing any­thing new. There are oc­ca­sional flick­ers of in­ter­est in se­quences like a chase that stretches across time ( from JFK’s as­sas­si­na­tion to a Ro­man char­iot race), but the car­toony Bill And Ted- style ap­proach to time travel ul­ti­mately can’t make up for the shal­low sto­ry­telling.

The fi­nal is­sue of the cur­rent minis­eries wasn’t avail­able for re­view, but so far this feels like Mil­lar lean­ing too heav­ily on his artis­tic col­lab­o­ra­tors and fail­ing to stretch him­self as a writer. The in­evitable film adap­ta­tion will hope­fully sand off the story’s more ob­nox­ious edges, but right now Chrononauts feels more like a sketchy movie pitch than a sat­is­fy­ing story in its own right. Saxon Bul­lock

Re­lease Date: 14 July

Pub­lisher: Re­bel­lion Writer: John Wag­ner Artist: Greg Sta­ples

Some­times,

even vil­lains need a break. Trans­di­men­sional su­per­fiend Judge Death and his brother “Dark Judges” have al­ways been among the most strik­ing and dis­tinc­tive ad­ver­saries for Judge Dredd, but overuse and a blackly comic ap­proach blunted their edges over the years; wisely, they’ve been rested for a decade. Dredd co- cre­ator John Wag­ner only agreed to bring Death and co back to 2000 AD if he had a strong enough story, a tar­get he hits with this tense, claus­tro­pho­bic thriller.

Fol­low­ing on from the Dark Judges’ brief ap­pear­ance in the epic Day Of Chaos saga, Dark Jus­tice sees Judge Death re­turn­ing to Mega- City One and re­cov­er­ing the sus­pended spir­its of his com­rades Fear, Fire and Mor­tis. How­ever, this time Death has a very dif­fer­ent plan in mind, as the Dark Judges stow away on the Mayflower, a lux­u­ri­ous galac­tic colony ship headed for deep space.

Wag­ner has crafted a tightly struc­tured hor­ror thriller in the vein of Alien. The tone re­cap­tures the bleak edge of Death’s first ap­pear­ances, while Greg Sta­ples’s fully- painted art­work fea­tures as­ton­ish­ing lev­els of at­mos­phere, mix­ing spec­tac­u­lar SF world­build­ing with mo­ments of gen­uine hor­ror. From the jaw- drop­ping vi­su­als to the grisly plot twists, Dark Jus­tice is both a rip- roar­ing ad­ven­ture and a se­ri­ous re­turn to form for these clas­sic vil­lains. Saxon Bul­lock

Time travel: al­ways a right laugh.

So who’ll play them in the movie?

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