Time is on their side
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
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?