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Review: Time Bomb #1

By Alan M. Rogers

After the Omega Bomb of Nazi Germany is accidentally launched, giving the human race 72 hours to live, four specialists are sent back in time to prevent the disaster. Unfortunately, instead of getting sent back two days, our heroes find themselves 67 years in the past, landing right in the middle of a German POW camp.

As the four time-displaced heroes hurry to ground zero, they take careful steps not to alter the past. However, their presence has alerted a sinister and evil enemy to their mission, the creator of the Omega Bomb himself, Axel Von Metzger, The Butcher!

Everyone I know – comic book reader or not – loves to imagine the world is a more mysterious place than they think it is. Everyone wants there to be places we haven’t found. Everyone wants a little magic, a lost civilization or a corner of the planet with ancient, unexplained ruins.

Scratch most people a bit, and you’ll find folk who secretly hope for conspiracy theories and secret technologies and science fiction fantasies brought to life, because there is a part of everyone that hates the idea that our world is explained, defined and quantified.

Most people are still afraid of the boogeyman; the nameless figure in the dark, the unexplainable bad guy who could turn out to be a mad scientist out to steal your body parts for a horrific experiment or the creepy clown serial killer.

Or a Nazi.

Radical Publishing’s Time Bomb is a simple story on the surface, but it really does plumb some of [the] deeper fears and longings that almost everyone I’ve ever known has possessed.

The year is 2012 (in which the world may or may not be supposed to end) and there is an accident in Berlin that uncovers a hermetically sealed underground Nazi compound. A (possibly) shadowy organization called the New World Order is sent in to investigate.

Nazis are the best bad guys, because they really were bad guys, and so much about what went on behind the scenes in Hitler’s government is still a relative unknown, especially by the average citizen.

Usually, the Nazis lose. Intrepid archeologists, adventurers and plucky young heroes defeat the Nazis in magnificent displays of derring-do.

Honestly? When I saw the first panel with the Nazi compound, that’s what I expected.

A few pages later, I was actually surprised. How often do Nazis win decades after their defeat and destruction? How many times in pulpy comics do you see a Nazi contingency plan succeed?

It’s a rare enough occurrence that I never suspected it might happen.

The next thing I know, there’s a Nazi super-virus that kills humans but not animals, hints that the Nazi compound had modern technology and four super secret special agents are travelling back in time to save the world.

Among our super secret special agents, we have a femme fatale (Peggy) who [has] only just signed divorce papers from Christian – another member of our intrepid team. And any girl who signs her divorce papers wearing a string bikini in a hotel lobby is okay in my book.

There’s Ken, [whom] we are first introduced to in Venice, Italy, where, ice-cold and silk smooth, he seduces and kills a beautiful woman. His only request when told he’s going back in time? That he gets to bring a lot of guns. He is the most disciplined of the four.

And there’s Jack. He’s the class clown and juvenile delinquent; he’s late to meetings, smokes in the command center and has no respect for authority. He’s also the first of the super secret special agents we’re introduced to, which may or may not mean anything.

After some mandatory team bonding (Literally. Tom Krueger, The Guy In Charge, tells them to), the super secret special agents climb inside a Time Bomb. Again, literal. Using some undefined property of quantum physics, an atomic bomb will blow them backwards through time. The trick?

Time Bombs are relatively untested and the only test subject to return from a trip through time was a monkey who needed therapy and valium afterwards.

Time travel is not exactly unfamiliar territory for me. I’ve been reading comics since Superman died and I’ve been reading/watching science fiction for longer than that. Usually, when people go back in time, they have to worry about changing the past so they don’t destroy the future.

Except… our super secret special agents bring up a good point. The world is already going to be destroyed by the Nazi super-virus, so they have a bit more latitude.

And who hasn’t wanted to shoot a Nazi?

Time Bomb is one of those series that gives comic readers a little bit of wish fulfillment without sacrificing plot. Jimmy Palmiotti really delivers in this book, showing his years of skill with careful character development interwoven with plot movement. He combines the off-the-cuff one-line wit popular with adventure TV these days with the snapshot nature of comic panels, marrying the two styles of writing with a signature flair.

The art team on this book must have been reading my mind, because when I read the synopsis for this book in Previews, I figured there was no way the kind of hyper-realized, blur-edged art Radical’s become known for in books such as Caliber: First Canon of Justice (which, if you haven’t read, you really should), Shrapnel and the critically acclaimed Hotwire could carry this tale. But the art on Time Bomb is just right. It’s very classic in style, but the attention to detail is fantastic. That detail is such a good fit with Palmiotti’s skilled writing that you can almost see the story move as you read it.

There’s no confusion on who’s speaking, no blurred letters you have to squint at to make out and no characters you have to look at just so to make sure you know who’s doing what and speaking where.

There are some fairly mature themes in Time Bomb, but instead of being garish of examples of sex, drugs and rock n’ roll used to advertise and sell the books, those themes are used to help the reader identify with the characters as people instead of super secret special agents. For the most part, this works well, but I wouldn’t recommend you let your young teenager read this without you reading it first.

Time Bomb is what a lot of comics strive to be: a good story, with unexpected twists and turns, a lot of gratuitous fun for the reader and characters you can cheer for. At 56 pages for $4.99, it’s worth picking up and adding to your pull.

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