Chrononauts is an audacious adventure that translates the cowboy ethos of the Cold War space race to an irreverent time travel romp. The collected edition is now available.
Corbin Quinn and Danny Riley are scientist buddies on the verge of making history. The whole world watches as Corbin, who’s perfected time travel technology, makes an initial foray to document key events of the past. Except something goes wrong and Corbin’s seemingly blown off-course. Danny departs on what he thinks is a rescue mission. When he locates Corbin, it’s to discover that Corbin (whose work obsession alienated his wife and allowed his father to succumb to alcoholism) has decided to flip a middle finger to the Butterfly Effect.
Corbin and Danny go on a roguish ramble through time, zapping to a variety of periods at will, setting themselves up as kings, rock stars, gamblers and any other number of avatars of cool. Back in the present, the military dispatches operatives to retrieve Corbin and Danny before they damage the timestream beyond repair. Clashes with soldiers and other mishaps convince Corbin and Danny to attempt to set the timestream right before it’s too late.
Chrononauts is another strong entry in Mark Millar’s ambitious “Millarworld” comic book empire. Millar ditches the sedate “we must not change a thing” ethos embedded in time travel narratives and instead lets his heroes have the kind of fun we’d all be tempted to pursue in their place. The boys have an easy rapport and the sheer joy of transgression comes across in a vivid way.
But they’re not bad guys, fans will find them easy to root for, even as they mess up time. Millar effectively communicates Corbin’s regret over his failures as a son and husband and how that emotion drives the narrative. Millar works in all kinds of clever twists on time travel tropes (Danny’s rock star interlude is pretty great); Corbin’s solution to seemingly inevitable death is damn clever. Millar packs the story with a giddy sense of adventure and flat out fun (if the frequent references to Corbin as “Dr. Quinn” don’t make you think of Jane Seymour, you might not have a pulse). It’s one of his most entertaining stories to date.
Artist Sean Murphy is a good match for the story. His scratchy, angular approach provides a strong through-line for a centuries-spanning story. He keeps the action humming and lets his imagination run wild on a story that gleefully skips across generations and fashions. He’s especially impressive on a sequence where the military chases Corbin and Danny through time, jumping from one place and era to another with energy and style. He nails several clever visual gags and makes the characters expressive and fluid. With spot-on coloring from the brilliant Matt Hollingsworth, Murphy gives Chrononauts a visual buzz that’s a worthy complement to its inventive narrative.
Chrononauts is a great example of the kind of fun, absorbing adventure that Millar’s looking to promote with the Millarworld line. It’s absolutely worth diving into.
Originally published at thunderalleybcpcom.ipage.com on September 11, 2015.