writer: Mark Millar / artist: Sean Gordon Murphy / Image Comics
So this is where we’re going, huh? This is what we’re doing with this comic? Titus, hit ‘em with the query, man.
If you’ve been following my Chrononauts reviews you know I’ve been a fan of this young series through the first two issues. Action and comedy with a bromanctic tone are great supplements to an adventure story. After all, the only potential downfall is if it goes a bit too much and turns into the man-child escapades of Fratty & Douche as they colonize the time stream.
That’s what they do? Oh.
Let’s break down Chrononaut #3’s good points first, as there are still many. The pace of the story will capture you, whether you’re happy with the direction it’s going or not, and that’s a testament to the comic’s storytelling and the fantastic artwork. The artwork continues to be great, and can capture a grim mood just as easily as it can set the punch line for a joke. The comic shows famous scenes throughout history as Reilly and Quinn travel like that beloved 90s TV show Sliders, and the juxtaposition between a speeding car and a historical landmark or event of legend makes for panels that visually fun and creative. The action sequences in this issue were really on point.
Where I take issue with Chrononauts #3 is its apparent resistance to actual depth, character development, or defining rules of their technological breakthrough of time travel. Not that I expected all those things heavily laid out in a single issue, but 2 of 3 would’ve been nice. Or 1 of 3, really.
In the review of issue #2 I mentioned the possible directions the series set itself up for, and many of the themes it could tackle with Reilly and Quinn. Hedonism, selfishness, relationships, depression – there’s plenty, and maybe Chrononauts will get to them eventually. As the series defines its tone though, issue #3 was a prime opportunity to prove itself more than a hyper-masculine teen comedy, but it shirked the chance. I know little more about Reilly and Quinn as result of reading this issue, and that’s a little disappointing.
Possibly the most worrisome missed opportunity so far is not explaining the rules of their time travel yet. Reading fantasy or science fiction means an agreement between readers and writers: the reader offers to suspend their disbelief, and the story meets them halfway by explaining the rules. We’re still waiting for those rules in Chrononauts, and while it never worried me before, I have to hope it comes very soon now and doesn’t delay much longer.
Overall, I unexpectedly found myself at a fork in the road with this series: it can still be a story with depth that balances comedy and drama more equally, or it can be an immature young adult comedy. Not that there’s anything wrong with the latter – there’s not, and this comic can come highly recommended to someone who wants that sort of thing – but as someone hoping for the former, Chrononauts may need to be adapted into guilty pleasure expectations.
You can read previous reviews of Chrononauts here.