Publisher: Image Comics
Story/Co-Creator: Mark Millar
Art/Co-Creator: Sean Gordon Murphy
Colours: Matt Hollingsworth
Mark Millar can be described as the comic book equivalent of Marmite. You either like what he does or just can’t get with it. Chrononauts #1 is the beginning of a new four issue limited series that takes an interesting new spin on the time travel genre.
Millar sets out the stall very quickly. The discovery of modern artifacts in a temple that pre-dates Stonehenge is a big fat worm to hook the reader right in. The narrative gives no chance for breath as we are introduced to our two leads and given a quick overview of the technology being tested. Time travel made possible, but not only that, the images of the past are transmitted to televisions in the present.
Chrononauts #1 does a good job of giving the reader just enough information to get involved with the narrative. As a bit of a science geek, it would have been nice to have a bit more of a look into the mechanics of the time travel. That aside, the speed of the fast paced narrative allows the issue to focus on the two leads. Reilly and Quinn are both strong charismatic characters. Reilly is brash, bold, he carries himself with the air of a rock star. Quinn is the brains, the creator of the technology and the one with the grounded personality. Quinn and Reilly are perfect foils for one another. Their personalities complement each other and it is their bromance that is the most engaging aspect of the book, even if at times their characterisation can fall a little flat in terms of their credibility as scientists.
The star of the show has to be Sean Murphy. His work is on par with that of his work on The Wake. There are lavish, grandiose set pieces that are filled with dynamic line work and balanced with more intimate panels in which the character design is allowed to come to the fore. Speaking of the character design, it was an interesting choice to have both Quinn and Reilly portrayed with a Hollywood style. Both go completely against the archetype of the modern-day scientist. They are more Brad Pitt than Neil deGrasse Tyson. It strangely works as the characters have a roguish quality that just wouldn’t play if they were a bit more buttoned down. Hollingsworth’s colour work walks the line of being just right and a little too cool is shade at times. It does not detract from the experience as it helps to highlight Murphy’s lines.
Chrononauts #1 is easy to consume and therefore seems to fall into the same trap of most of Millar’s books. It feels like it has been created with one eye on the comic fan and the other on it being optioned to Hollywood. That isn’t to say that it is a bad comic book, far from it, but it would be explain why the narrative chugs along at such a fast pace without any real character exploration.
It is worth reading. Millar has been going through a bit of a renaissance in the creator owned realm recently and this is the best of the bunch so far.