Corbin Quinn and Danny Reilly, they’ve gone back in time.
They’ve gone back to Samarkand in 1504 and to bloody, bloody war; back to Paris in 1961 when Jean-Paul Sartre pondered being and nothingness; back to Egypt in 3000 B.C., the time of the Pharoahs. They’ve gone back to Japan in 1220, the age of the Shogun; back to New York in 1929, before the fall in the age of Gatsby. They’ve gone back 65 million years to the age of the dinosaurs then back 530 million years to witness the first mammal crawl to the land from the sea. They’ve gone back to Bethlehem, to a starry night when all the inns were full and miracles happened in stables dark.
And they’ve gone back and back and back again not to uncover secrets lost, not for the sake of scientific curiosity, not to better humanity in the present day, not to right some wrong, to stop some evil, to remedy some sin.
They’re no Ebeneezer Scrooge on a spiritual journey to the past to learn some big life lesson. They’re no Kitty Pride (or Wolverine) traveling back in time to alter history’s terrible end. They’re no Marty McFly trying to set things right before lighting strikes the town clock. They’re no Enterprise crew out to save the future by saving the whales and changing the past.
As a matter of fact, they’re not worried at all, not worried that what they do in the past will have implications for the future to come. They’re not worried that their actions might change the course of history, might change the timeline so that nothing will ever again be the same.
No, Quinn and Reilly have thrown aside all the things we think we know about time travel from decades of science fiction and comicbooks. So far they haven’t learned any important lessons. They haven’t changed the past to save the future. They’re not watching every step they take to make sure that they don’t inadvertently cause the South to win the Civil War, or Hitler to harness the power of the atomic bomb, or their own parents to never get married and thus their own births to never occur, thus creating a paradox so profound that all of reality winks out of existence because of it.
Quinn and Reilly, they’re having fun.
They’d have saved Edith Keeler and then taken her dancing.
Their time travel suits not only allow them to travel through time but also allow them to take anything they want along with them. So, tanks and artillery go back to the 16th century and fighter jets go back to the days of the dinosaur. It’s a brilliant concept that opens up a world of opportunities for the chrononauts and a world of possibilities for the storytellers.
And just like that, they’re kings of the world, lords of time.
But they don’t rule from some timeless nexus beyond all reality, bending everything to their will. They’re no Kang, eternally threatening the cosmos (and pestering the Avengers ) for the sake of power.
They’re cheating at card games. Giving inappropriate gifts to the newborn Jesus. Drinking. Dating. Sightseeing the history of the world. Having a blast.
And I’m loving every minute of it.
Mark Millar and Sean Gordon Murphy are having a good time with their new series from Image and it shows. Millar’s story and dialogue are fast moving and loose. And the characters of Quinn and Reilly are at once both charming and infuriating. From the very first issue, I wanted to follow these guys wherever they wanted to take me.
And Murphy manages to capture the spirit of the times, from the dinosaur age to the jazz age, from battlefields to exotic palaces. His style is a perfect match for these roguish characters and this equally roguish tale.
Chrononauts is a thrill ride that embraces the time travel genre while turning it on its head. It is big time fun, consequences be damned.
Of course, I know that it probably won’t last and that sooner or later the characters will have to grow and that lessons will have to be learned. Actions will have consequences, they always do.
But I hope that doesn’t happen too quickly. I hope they enjoy themselves for a good long while before things get complicated. Quinn has a look in his eye in one panel that has me worried, but surely he’ll come around.
For now, though, Quinn and Reilly are having a blast. And why shouldn’t they? They’ve got all the time in the world.