Penciller: Sean Gordon Murphy
Colorist: Matt Hollingsworth
Letterer: Chris Eliopoulos
Writer Mark Millar is a polarizing creator, but with the recent critical success of Starlight, interested in his work has been reignited. Teaming the author with a killer creative team including both artist Sean Gordon Murphy and the excellent colors of Matt Hollingsworth & letters of Chris Eliopoulos should be a case for instant success. Fortunately, Chrononauts #1 reads as if it is cut from the same cloth of Starlight. The tale builds out a world and personality for our characters recalling some of the intense interpersonal work that Millar crafted in what is arguably his strongest Big Two work: The Ultimates.
Within the space of this one issue Millar fills these characters with heart and nuance. Corbin Quinn and Danny Reilly are both written with an immense amount of pathos and love in this tale. As soon as this comic establishes these two as interesting human beings with engaging backstories, it starts collapsing and shifting the dynamic. The high science aspects of this issue take a similar approach to the works this story is based off of like Back to the Future with similar color schemes, aesthetics, and heart. Those influences suit this comic well, and so long as we invest in the two personalities of these characters throughout the more action heavy parts of this story, Chrononauts is likely going to be a tale that’s engaging during the full span of the story.
Artist Sean Gordon Murphy is an incredible asset to the storytelling of this issue. Millar’s focus on cinematic presentation simply requires excellent artists fleshing out his environments and spreads added to the work. Perhaps the most mesmerizing sequences of this comic are the incredible instances of technology in which Murphy draws futuristic vehicles with all the bells and whistles that futuristic machinery could possibly have. Millar has always worked with top flight artists in the industry, and with the right project he and Murphy are a match made in comic book heaven. The vehicles aren’t the only excellent part of this comic, office spaces and scenic vistas are jam-packed with an immense amount of detail. This is the comic that you remove the staples from and tack to the wall. A crowd shot in the middle of the tale is filled with individuals that Murphy pencils in an immense amount of detail. Due to the nature of the title, time travel is a necessary component to the book – which is another strength of the penciller. The eras represented here feel authentic and unique. This book jumps to the future and the past, so clarity is a requirement.
The personal lives of our main characters is fleshed out to an excellent degree, giving them the right amount of emotion and comedic elements. On multiple occasions, I was shocked with just how funny this story was. Murphy and Millar both nail the comedic elements of this story with some physical humor from the leads to small instances of funny fervor hiding in the background of this story. More importantly, this comic never strays too far into either comedy or drama, but instead moves into the dramedy section of entertainment, as the stakes for our heroes is clearly and cleanly laid out amongst the first installment of this story.
Cinematic is a term that is sometimes daunting for the medium. It’s something that can absolutely be applied in this context, with a story that is lighter on dialogue and heavier on splash pages and big wide panels. These stories mix great on the comic store shelf next to complicated pieces covered with dialogue. Still, these cinematic comics shouldn’t read like movie scripts, they should read like comics. The medium should be taken advantage of at all times. That attitude of trying to get everything up on the screen is a turn off, and something that has distracted fans from Millar’s own writing. Chrononauts #1 reads like a comic, and it’s made all the better for being written, drawn, and created as such.