Friday, October 14, 2011

CHRONOS #2 - April 1996

Down On the Farm

Credits: John Francis Moore (writer), Paul Guinan (penciler), Steve Leialoha (inks), Willie Schubert (letters), Mike Danza (colors)

1873: Three weeks have passed since the previous issue, and we learn Chronos has befriended Matthew Kent and his family. He tries to help with the chores, but finds his experience as a “brilliant techno-industrialist thief” hasn’t provided him with the skills needed for nineteenth century farming in Smallville. Moore gets a lot of material out of the culture shock, as Chronos discusses marriage with the Kent’s eager teenage son, is forced to attend church by Mrs. Kent, and is targeted as a “half-breed” by a drunken local. Moore could go the cheap route and depict the Kents as dimwitted, intolerant yokels, but they’re portrayed as decent, caring individuals. They know nothing about Chronos, suspect he might be a crook, but still accept him into their home and rarely even ask questions about his past. The best scene in the issue has Chronos robbing their hidden cash reserves while the family’s attending a play, but quickly regretting the decision and returning the money.

Meanwhile, in Metropolis, Vyronis has targeted Mr. Dunbar, a wealthy industrialist. One of Dunbar’s descendants is fated to interfere with Vyronis’ plans, so of course he kills Dunbar.

1998: David Clinton, the original Chronos, is accused by the police of the new Chronos’ S.T.A.R. Labs theft. Once again, he begins to fade out of existence.

1873: Back in Smallville, Chronos checks out the play, unaware that another Linear Man has arrived in 1873 to arrest him for last issue’s murder. Chronos is smitten with one of the actors, and follows her to her trailer later that night. He’s shocked to discover that she has a Walkman. (The girl can listen to up to eighty minutes of music at a time!) When she’s called away by another actor, the mysterious Lucas, Chronos sneaks in and looks through her things. Along with numerous keepsakes from the late ‘90s, she also has a disk that’s similar to the device used by Vyronis to travel through time in the previous issue. The discovery of other time travelers, and how exactly they connect to Vyronis, is one of my favorite aspects of this series. Chronos’ crush, Alexandra, will go on to have a larger role in the series, but the abrupt ending of the series shortchanges their relationship.

1461: Finally, Vyronis arrives in Florence to meet with the thirty-year-old Chronos’ future ex-lover, Fiorella. He boasts about the tachyon generator he snatched from Chronos last issue, which will somehow enable them to control all time. I seem to recall this device playing a large role in an upcoming storyline, but the science fiction elements of the book never really grabbed me. I like time travel, I like seeing characters interacting with figures from the past, I even enjoy the occasional time paradox, but trying to establish “real” physics for time travel just loses me. Their plot also seems like too much of a villain cliché, which is an awkward fit for a book that doesn’t follow any other traditional formulas. Regardless, this issue remains a lot of fun, and Guinan’s various landscapes and architecture are amazing.

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