We’ve hit the first weekend of the first full week of the new year, and I’ve managed to get a new computer charger!
The graphic novel Chrononauts, from co-creators Mark Millar (writer) and Sean Gordon Murphy (artist), came into my life for two very distinct reasons: 1) I’m a sucker for time travel stories, and anything called Chrononauts is bound to have adventurous time travel shenanigans, and 2) the cover art. I’ve long since accepted that judging a book by its title and cover design is a necessity to cull the vast stack of potential purchases, and it’s even more important in comics, where the cover is often a direct introduction to the art style. And look at this cover!
First off, we got that time portal thing in the corner giving off Stargate vibes. (Side note – I’ve only ever seen a couple episodes of Stargate proper, but that old morning cartoon Stargate Infinity I remember watching before school alongside an Archie cartoon and future!Sherlock Holmes with robot!Watson.) And then we have the runway leading to it with the dividing line turning some sharp angles to run along a completely different track, which I’ll claim as being symbolic of how time travel can shift reality into completely different event chains. Bonus points for the cracked timepiece / vortex manipulator (apologies for the Doctor Who reference, but the two lead guys just scream Jack Harkness) being situated on the secondary road to make it look like a wristwatch, while the dotted line makes a nice border to frame and emphasize our heroes. Plus, perhaps most importantly, look at their hair. The only response to such perfectly messy hair and jaunty face angles is to admire them, and then decide you need to know their stories. Or maybe that’s just me. No shame.
Chrononauts is a full-blooded action movie distilled into frames, which says promising things for the potential film adaptation currently in development at Universal. Leading the cast are Drs. Danny Reilly and Corbin Quinn, renowned scientists who together create wearable time-travel technology with a battery that can last a hundred years. Reilly is the blonde-haired flirt with a cocky attitude and a heart of gold. Quinn is the rugged one who looks vaguely reminiscent of Marvel’s Wolverine and has regrets about his decision to prioritize science over the people in his life. When an accident on their first mission lands them in an unexpected place and time, the two go awol, living lives free from their past regrets while using time travel to gain fame and fortune throughout history. Cue Mission Control panicking and sending in a trigger-happy military retrieval team that isn’t as experienced in time travel mechanics. Cue Reilly and Quinn’s personal lives being complicated by jealous lovers and power-hungry henchman turning on them in several timezones.
The story is rife with anachronistic fight scenes (you want a Viking ninja samurai Spartan mashup with helicopters? SURE THING!) and betrayals, keeping up a near supersonic pacing that makes the volume impossible to put down. Add in the selflessly selfish friendship between Quinn and Reilly, who will literally cross the world for each other but aren’t too concerned about anyone else, and some nice character development, and it is apparent that Millar and Murphy have crafted an adventure both thrilling and charming. The series also contains more than a couple nods to other famous time travel stories and a visual wit that excels in turning the status quo on its head.
So we’ve got a time travel action-adventure with a touch of humor and a willingness to take a few potshots at modern society. Sounds perfect; now what’s the potential for a volume 2? While the ending of this volume is a nice conclusion to the narrative, the final page offers an excellent cliffhanger suggesting that Danny Reilly might just be tempted to meddle with time travel once more. After some googling, I also came across this interview, where Millar reveals that volume 2 has an intended release for this upcoming summer and will feature jumping through the future. Millar also expresses his excitement for the movie’s potential, saying they’ve got two big-name actors lined up that they’re hoping to announce their names this year as well. Basically, there are ALL KINDS of reasons to jump into this series head first, and I support all of them.