After years of reviewing comics (dear God, it’s been years?) I’ve developed a phrase that I find myself using more and more. “Yup… that’s a comic book.” It basically means that what I read is largely considered a standard comic. It’s not bad, it’s not particularly good and if I stopped reading it I wouldn’t lose any sleep over not finishing the story. To put it in a numerical perspective it’s usually a 2 sometimes a 3 on our scale. Yeah a 2. That’s because it’s so niche that it’s hard to say that it deserves more than that, but that doesn’t mean it’s bad. It just means that it’s not meant for everyone and yet you’ll find most DC and Marvel books in this zone. Now that’s a far cry from the first issue of Chrononauts; you may recall me singing its praises and wondering where this Mark Millar had been. Well he didn’t last long. The difference between the first issue and the second issue was so drastic that I wondered what the hell I was reading. Now Chrononauts #3 is much more in line with the second issue, but I still had the same response… “Yup… that’s a comic book.”
With the first issue the series presented the idea of seeing the past unfold in real time in the present. It was a great idea, but accompanying that was an obvious pining for the approval of one’s father and a lost love. The pieces seemed obvious, but still rather interesting. Then the second issue hit and our main character began ripping ass through time and living numerous lives and it quickly became clear that Millar was taking a piss.
If you’re not going to use the Back to the Future rule book that’s fine, but to say there are no rules and thus no consequences to your actions in a story centered around time travel… well that’s just stupid. That means this has all been a waste of time. Unless… unless there’s some sort of total cop-out to the ending. Something like it all being in his mind or a simulation. Which would make the story worse or even worse than that… the rules finally come into play.
The other part of Millar’s piss is that he’s basically just letting Sean Murphy go nuts. Which don’t get me wrong, I’m loving the art. The art is still the best thing about this series. The thing is though, it’s like Millar just wanted to see Murphy illustrate planes, trains and automobiles and a couple of choice eras from time. It’s strange because it really comes off more as a first time director going ape with the story rather than two experienced comic creators coming together for a tour de force.
All in all, it’s not bad. It’s just not good either. It falls into that pit of average and is dangerously close to sinking into below average territory. And it’s all over in the next issue… which at this point I’ll read it, but my expectations from the first issue to the last have fallen so steeply that there’s really nothing that this story can do that will save the series; in fact, it’ll probably go the opposite way.