I’ve watched and read enough adventures of The Flash to know the dire consequences of messing with the time stream. The result is almost always depressing and upsetting, at least to Barry Allen and the people around him. The Man Who F#%&ed Up Time acknowledges the peril but lets it unfold in a lighter way, thank goodness — and I’m thanking goodness because I can use a comic with some levity to break up my current heavy reading trajectory.
Sean Bennett is a lab assistant in a time-traveling project who feels just a bit beaten down by life. His position in the project is directly related to these woes and he wishes he could change how everything turned out for him. Of course, he does. He doesn’t make the obvious leap to the fact he works on a time-traveling project, but a mysterious visitor pushes him in that direction and, as we see in the opening sequence of the issue, it somehow leads to a world where Abraham Lincoln survived the assassination attempt and is now some sort of dystopia where everyone wears a stovepipe hat.
I won’t lie to you — The Man Who F#%&ed Up Time ticks pretty much all the boxes on the standard time travel story plot point checklist, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It has a breezy energy that pulls you along in a madcap way and a sense of humor that lightens the tension into something less stressful and more rollicking.
The Man Who F#%&ed Up Time ends with a collection of documents to fill in some back story, most notably a fake Wikipedia-like page that describes as history what happened at the Abraham Lincoln assassination attempt. It’s a nice way to not pound down the pace of the story, and there’s enough going on that a fun romp with some clever bits looks to be in the title’s horizon, unless, of course, some bumbling time traveler changes its course.
In the first Stig and Tilde adventure, the 14-year-old twins found themselves trapped on an island after a mishap during a coming of age tradition in their hometown. In this follow-up, they find artifacts that answer questions about their previous island adventure while opening up some new mysteries as they contend with danger.
While fleeing their attackers, Stig discovers a secret hideaway that he soon realizes belongs to someone on the periphery of their previous adventure. Caring for his wounded sister, Stig becomes a sort-of wild boy figure, donning a wolf’s coat as a disguise, gathering natural remedies and interacting with a wolf he befriended earlier. Here it becomes a tale of survival through a partnership, just not necessarily the kind of survival Stig thinks it is. It’s more about surviving the emotions of being human.
This second book is a direct extension of the first, so while someone who didn’t read the first one would probably follow it well enough, it’s more meaningful if you have. De Radigues uses the opportunity to fill out Sig and Tilde’s world in the sense of offering possibilities of where their adventures might head but keeps the story grounded in the context of their previous one. His writing and art are both delightful, with enough of an old-fashioned quality that old folks can latch onto the ambiance of mystery mixed with playfulness while still pleasing the target younger readers who will like the elements of danger and darkness that pepper the experience.