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Comics Bulletin Gives Two Great Reviews of Time Bomb #1

Review by Samuel Salama Cohen and Thom Young

Samuel Salama Cohen:

The premise of Time Bomb seems to be based on the commonly heard quote: what would you do if you had the chance to kill Hitler when he was still in his teens, when he was a nobody?

Would you dare to kill him, saving millions of lives, while ending his and changing the course of history?

Actually, the book borrows different cliches of science fiction and super-spy stories in order to create a dramatic and apocalyptic tale of its own.

The story starts in 2012, a fateful year according to some civilizations, in which all the planets will supposedly align, bringing complete destruction to our little planet Earth.

In that near future there is a global agency (S.H.I.EL.D. reminiscences, anyone?) called N.W.O. (New World Order), with agents spread all around the world. Even in Berlin, where special agent Werner Platz finds an underground Nazi base, containing not just enough food for a few people to live there for a while, but also a missile that launches to the sky of the German capital, exploding and starting the beginning of the end–and this is where the cliche mix really starts.

First, we had spies working for a global organization, then an old Nazi bunker that suddenly poses a great menace, but with the missile’s explosion, readers get another classic cliche: a deadly, contagious airborne virus. Even after killing everyone who is infected with it, the virus keeps traveling spreading . . . just like pollution.

The world has 72 hours before everyone who remains on Earth’s surface dies. The definitive Nazi weapon to cleanse the Earth has been unleashed 70 years after WWII. To prevent the disaster, N.W.O. uses Professor David Page’s Time Bomb to send four agents into the past to save the present. Of course, the writers remind us of the golden rule of time travel: no altering the past!!

Because hey, any change in the past, any interaction could have disastrous consequences.

But what if the moment of arrival was WWII and the place a Nazi Death Camp? What should these four agents do? By the looks of it, they are not going to walk away.

This first issue is interesting, mature, and a bit crazy at times, as it drinks from classic horror and apocalyptic scenarios to create its own.

Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray know how to exploit Paul Gulacy’s style, and Rain Beredo provides realistic colors. Thus, the final product is an action movie that could very well be the next Hollywood summer blockbuster.

This issue devoted much time to character introductions and all types of chaos, so I bet the next one will see a lot of shooting and many Nazis dying (which is always a fun ride) because (and I almost forgot to mention it) the four agents, the good guys, are armed to the teeth.

Hell of a ride, I tell you.

Thom Young:

As I was editing Sam’s review of Time Bomb #1, I struggled with what to cut so as to not spoil the story for those who have not yet read the issue. Ultimately, I found I couldn’t cut Sam’s spoilers without eliminating his point.

Sam is absolutely right; Time Bomb #1 is a string of various science fiction elements that most of us have all seen before. Some of them are so pervasive that they do indeed deserve to be called cliches. Yet, as I was reading the 51 pages of story in this first issue, I didn’t focus on how many times I’ve seen these elements before.

Until I was editing Sam’s review, I didn’t think about how many of these elements have become somewhat trite–well, except for the cliched notion of four people on the team of adventurers. The idea of four adventurers is a cliche that undoubtedly pre-dates Jack Kirby’s Fantastic Four and Challengers of the Unknown.

Instead of thinking about how many of the elements in Time Bomb I’ve seen in other science fiction stories over the years, I simply enjoyed these bits that took me back to the types of science fiction scenarios that thrilled me when I was a kid–when all of these elements were fresh because they were new to me. They could have been just as trite when I was a kid (though they weren’t, because I’m old and they really were fresh ideas back then), but it wouldn’t have mattered because they would have still been new to me at the time.

So, yeah, this story is a string of concepts that have become common in science fiction over the past 50 years, which is why part of me was just enjoying this comic from a position akin to nostalgia–though Time Bomb is by no means a nostalgic comic book.

While Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray’s story may be a stringing together of various science fiction elements that fans of the form have seen several times, the writers do a commendable job in pulling these bits together in an entertaining story. My only real disappointment is the obvious plot point in which the development of the Omega Bomb requires the use of the Time Bomb–thus setting up a sort of time loop.

If the Time Bomb wasn’t ever used, then the Omega Bomb would never be developed, but since the Omega Bomb was developed (and deployed) the Time Bomb must be used. Yet, if the Time Bomb wasn’t ever used. . . .

As for the illustrations, I’ve had a love-hate relationship with Paul Gulacy’s work ever since I first saw it in an advanced copy Don McGregor’s Sabre comic novel in July of 1978 (a month before it was officially released). Gulacy has a unique style that has influenced a number of contemporary comic book illustrators. In a way, Gulacy is the godfather of the house style of Avatar Press–though Time Bomb is not published by Avatar; it’s published by Radical.

The work in Time Bomb is distinctively Gulacy, which means the characters have a stiffness to them and they tend to have little expression in their faces (which is the part of Gulacy’s work I’ve always had a problem with). The stiffness and lack of expression is undoubtedly due to the fact that Gulacy continues to draw faces based on celebrity photographs that have been published in magazines (where showing an expressionless facade in public is the norm).

Thirty-two years ago, the look of the title character of Sabre was clearly based on the legendary guitarist Jimi Hendrix. Here, the appearance of one of the Time Bomb agents, Christian, seems likely to be based on contemporary hip-hop artist Ludacris.

While the stiffness and the lack of facial expressions are present as hallmarks of Gulacy’s style, there is also a flatness to his work here that makes it not as good as his best efforts from 30 years ago. Still, his style is well-suited for secret agents and science fiction, and I’ll take a lesser effort by Gulacy over the best efforts by most contemporary comic book illustrators.

To read both full reviews, click on the image below.

Time_Bomb_1_Gulacy_Beredo_cover_lowres.jpg

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