Tuesday, 30 June 2015
Chrononauts Review (Mark Millar, Sean Murphy)
Spoilers - this comic is shit!
Meet the ultimate craptastic time-travel story: Chrononauts!
What happens when two meathead “scientist” dudebros invent time-travel? Dude - they use it to get babes, money and fast cars! Yah, brah, they like totally get laid tons and use their knowledge of history and their timesuits to jump into any timezone and get stuff to make their lives easier whenever they want!
They want to become emperors to 16th century people? Give them 21st century weaponry and lead them in battle against their enemies! Machine guns, planes and bombs will easily make them the victors against spears and horses and they’ll make you their ruler. Then you get gold and women and you just keep doing that everywhere in time because that’s what “rock star scientists” do!
It feels redundant to say Chrononauts is a dumb and lazily scripted comic because so much of Mark Millar’s recent output has been like that; Chrononauts is just the most brazen, to date. I thought Starlight was the bottom of the barrel but then MPH came out. It couldn’t get any worse than that, could it? Then came Chrononauts. I have no expectations now on what Millar will put out next.
The biggest problem I have with his latest book is that it feels blatantly designed to be sold as a movie and not as a comic in its own right - more so than usual! Chrononauts is the least imaginative, overly simplistic time-travel storyline that’s easy to digest and enormously saleable. And that’s exactly what happened to it. Like a lot of his Millarworld comics, Millar sold Chrononauts to a Hollywood studio, this time just one issue into its print run! I guess if you produce a comic like a Michael Bay movie, you can expect that to happen.
It’s baffling how these so-called scientists instantly abandon their principles and have no qualms with disrupting the timestream for their own selfish needs. Introduce future technology to the past? No problem! Alter the course of history for a country? Sure! Why not invent Harry Potter and Breaking Bad and The Smiths? You’ll make scads of cash! Ethics? Logic? What’re those? It’s almost like reading a personification of Millar the writer today, a guy whose only interest is seemingly only in money and nothing else.
The appalling characters are all the worse because Millar can write convincing and complex scientist characters. Lex Luthor in Superman: Red Son was the best character in that brilliant book and he was a genius, much like Corbin Quinn and Danny Reilly are presented to the reader as. The difference being the Millar from 10 years ago actually took the time and effort to make Lex believable and did no work at all with regards Dumbass #1 and #2 who are the worst scientist characters I’ve ever seen. Put The Rock and Vin Diesel in lab coats and glasses - that’s the level we’re dealing with.
Not only that but the finale revolves around what’ll make Corbin genuinely happy which turns out to be the most obvious thing that he should’ve done immediately once he decided he was gonna fuck with history. And this guy supposedly has a 240 IQ? What’ll make Corbin happy is set up in the most superficial way in the first issue. I shouldn’t be surprised this was rushed though as this is only a four-issue story - Millar’s comics, along with getting worse in quality, seem to be getting shorter too. A byproduct of becoming more and more like movie storyboards? I’m sure it’ll be more developed in the McG-directed version.
As with all time-travel stories, there’s the usual issues with “but if they did that then how come…?” that I won’t go even bother going into - that’s just what you get when you write a time-travel story and Millar’s no more guilty of these plot-holes than any other hack.
Sean Murphy’s art is fine if you’re a fan. It’s slick and accomplished, I’ve just never been that enamoured with it. Maybe because his art’s always been accompanied by mediocre scripts - Punk Rock Jesus, The Wake, Chrononauts. It’s pretty clear though who he wants to play Mannix in the movie as he’s a dead ringer for Tommy Lee Jones.
I honestly feel like Chrononauts is the acid test for Millar fans - if they accept this, he can do anything. He could publish a comic called CHUMPS with a smiling Millar flipping off the reader with every page inside being blank panels with YOU’RE A FUCKING CHUMP AND I’VE TAKEN YOUR MONEY, AHAHAHA! scrawled on it and he’ll still have his fans shrugging and saying “I thought it was fun!”
Actually, Chrononauts feels a lot like CHUMPS already. Coming soon to a cinema near you starring the cast of Entourage!