Thursday, December 15, 2011

CHRONOS #6 - August 1998

The Funeral Party
Credits: John Francis Moore (writer), Paul Guinan (penciler), Dennis Rodier & Steve Leialoha (inks), Ken Bruzenak (letters), Mike Danza (colors)

1998: Chronos and Alex attend David Clinton’s funeral, allowing Walker to give Alex (and any new readers) a history lesson on the original Chronos. The flashback also reveals that Walker Gabriel first met David Clinton while studying his theories on time travel. They became acquaintances, but not truly friends, which is why Walker can’t believe Clinton left him his valuable technical papers and 1934 World’s Fair clock. Inside that clock is a more valuable treasure, the key to Clinton’s safe house. Inside, Chronos and Alex discover paintings stolen from famous painters the day they were finished, rare antiques, and Clinton’s original time travel equipment. Walker’s not thrilled by this, since these items are virtually impossible to fence.

The most shocking discovery in the house is an old photo of David Clinton with Walker’s parents.
Suddenly, one of David Clinton’s old friends, Abel Tarrant (the Tattooed Man), enters. He demands Chronos use the time travel equipment to send him twenty years in the past. Chronos obliges, but unfortunately for Tarrant, Clinton’s old time machine explodes shortly after sending him back to the past. Alex essentially nags Walker into doing something, so he travels back in time to retrieve Tarrant.

1978 (give or take a few years): Chronos encounters Tarrant harassing his twenty-year-old self, bullying him out of getting his first tattoo. Tarrant reveals that this tattoo parlor served as his first crime connection, so he wants to erase the mistake and recreate his past. Tarrant’s tattoos melt into blobs as he doubles over in pain, leading Chronos to take him back to the ‘90s.
A few amusing moments during this scene: Chronos comments that tattoos themselves don’t lead to crime, since everyone he knows under thirty has one. This was written in 1998, before the tattoo fad infected even teenage Disney Channel stars and middle-aged single dads. John Francis Moore also implicitly endorses the Carter Administration by having Chronos tell Tarrant that he’s saving him from the Reagan years. I’m sure this is just a gratuitous partisan shot, but Ronald Reagan will become an important historical touchstone in future issues.

1998: Chronos returns with Tarrant, whose tattoos have returned to normal, signifying the futility of changing the past (and also leaving him free to be dismembered in a future issue of Green Lantern or Suicide Squad). Walker declares that he won’t be looking back at his own life with regret at age forty. Holding the photo of his parents, he’s determined to learn the truth about his past. Apparently, this reflects an edict of DC, who felt the character of Walker Gabriel was too whiney and passive. To Moore’s credit, this issue doesn’t feel like an abrupt change of direction, and I would rather see the mysteries resolved sooner rather than later, so this is one editorial decree I don’t mind. The second half of the series noticeably picks up the pace in the coming issues, and I honestly think the later issues are more entertaining than the early ones, even if the pacing is occasionally bizarre.

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