How else can I describe Chrononauts but as a wild ride? Mark Millar, the master of the blockbuster comic book, increases the action beyond his usual by cramming more events than you can possibly imagine into a four-issue mini-series. He collaborated on the idea with artist Sean Murphy, and the result is a buddy adventure story across time and place.
Dr. Quinn first creates an unmanned time machine — more of a satellite — that allows the world to observe events in the past on live television. Then, with the help of a friend, they develop a suit, equipped with a hundred-year battery, that allows whoever wears it to travel anywhere at any point in time. The suit even allows them to transport whatever they are touching — anything from an I-phone to a car to an airplane. So at certain points in the story, they drive from century to century and country to country in a split second, sometimes in a series of split-seconds in wild car/tank/airplane chases.
And who might be chasing them? The people back home in our present time period. Why are they being chased? Because these guys are mucking about in the time stream, and everybody knows that’s a big no-no. Of course, everything goes sideways, they wreck history, and then they must do everything in their power to fix history — both on the global scale and on a personal level. And they do. We get our happy ending.
In other words, the ending — as is usual in a Millar comic — is predictably satisfying just as in a Hollywood movie, but if you go in with these expectations, you will be pleasantly surprised by the twists and turns of the plot in getting the expected closure. Millar is a master of building suspense even when you know the overall arc of the story. This predictability and lack of subtly will often limit the depth of his comics, but I can’t imagine anyone arguing that he’s aiming for literary depth here. He wants to give us a fun story and set up Sean Murphy to give us stunning action-packed visuals, and that’s exactly what we get.
The only real problem is perhaps time-travel issues. Those who are picky about time travel following some sort of rules will have a field day tearing apart the inconsistencies. But, again, I just don’t care. Millar’s comic book delivers what it promises, and it was a pleasant way to spend an hour of my time. In the end, I dock the book a star because it just isn’t five-star material when compared to other comics, but I can’t rate it lower than four stars because it does exactly what it sets out to do: Entertain. And if you’ve ever seen Sean Murphy’s art, you’ll know that it’s worth the price of admission on its own merit. So, if you’re looking for action, check out Millar and Murphy’s Chrononauts.