Time travel is always a fun concept to play around with. What makes or breaks a time travel story isn’t the science, it isn’t the setting, but the characters and the story. If you don’t care about the characters they can travel anywhere they want because you won’t give a damn. The story is important because without the right imagination and structure it again doesn’t matter where in time we travel to. Narcopolis: Continuum takes place in the not so distant future. One drug company rules the world of drugs and they basically can give you anything. Our main character Ben works for the drug company. We’re walked through his childhood and his disappearing father who gave him H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine as a child and pretty much explains what’s going to happen to dear Ben.
Soon enough Ben discovers a drug that allows for time travel. He wastes no time convincing his lab assistant to use it on him and sure enough… he travels through time and unlocks the main plot of the series. Which I can’t tell you because it would just spoil the shit out of this first issue for you.
This was the first new title from Heavy Metal that I read. I really enjoyed it. Sure I’m a sucker for time travel stories in general, but if you remember my first paragraph then you’ll understand that I’m quite particular about what makes for a good time traveling story. Writer Scott Duvall has a great foundation here. He’s introduced a main character that is relatable and who you can sympathize with, which checks off my first box. He then introduces a story that revolves around Ben that’s interesting and better yet has science and a setting that is also intriguing. So it checks all of the boxes.
Duvall’s writing really shines with the narration from Ben. That’s the window into his mind and we really get to know Ben as he peels back the world for us. It’s natural feeling as well. It’s like Ben is thinking it rather than just narrating it because the direction of his narration changes as the scene changes.
Because the story is set in the future and is about time travel you need a “look.” You need a style and aesthetic that builds the world. Ralf Singh does just that. The world feels a little underpopulated with living people, but otherwise this feels like the future. Singh goes for more of the THX future in which everything is clean and sterile. It works for the story, but there are a lot of bland backgrounds that could use a lot more detail. The character designs are memorable and Singh gives them a lot of visual personality.
This seems like a book that a lot of people are missing out on. I know I missed posting this review in time for the first issues release and now the second issue is out. Really it comes down to two things about this series, if you like time travel then you already know if you’re going to read it. If you don’t… then you already know if you’re going to read it. For me, I’ll continue reading it and finding out what crazy time sequence Ben has found himself in.
Narcopolis: Continuum #1 Writer: Scott Duvall Artist: Ralf Singh Colorist: Nicolas Chapuis Publisher: Heavy Metal Price: $3.50 Format: Print/Digital