Tuesday, February 7, 2012

CHRONOS #10 - January 1999

Credits: John Francis Moore (writer), Paul Guinan (layouts), Steve Leialoha (finishes), Ken Bruzenak (letters), James Sinclair (colors)

Getting back to issue #8’s cliffhanger, Chronos and Fiorella are introduced to the mysterious Gravesend during their first trip to Chronopolis. He recharges Chronos’ time-traveling power, allowing him to go back and prevent his mother’s death. Yes, issue #9 of this series takes place in-between pages 3 and 4 of this issue. Chronos spends a few pages musing on his own non-existence in the timestream before going back to Chronopolis. Gravesend reveals that he’s an agent of an otherdimensional entity that tasked him with the possession of the Tempesthold, “a vessel which contains the ethereal soul of their race.” While traveling to this reality, the Tempesthold was lost centuries ago in the Earth’s past. Gravesend is unable to travel outside of Chronopolis, so he asks Chronos to repay his favor and locate the Tempesthold.

Chronos promptly travels to Constantinople, 1552 AD, and snatches the Tempesthold from Emperor Constantine. He’s briefly (and by “brief” I mean two pages) confronted by Azrael, the Avenging Angel of St. Dumas, before jumping out of time. One problem -- touching the Tempesthold gives him a vision of the future. Like most otherdimensional entities, Gravesend’s benefactors are a nefarious race of world-eaters who are plotting the destruction of this universe. After receiving some moral guidance in modern-day Morocco from an undercover Daily Planet reporter, Chronos is inspired to plant the Tempesthold inside Superman’s future Fortress of Solitude. The one that’s located within the sun.

When Gravesend learns of Chronos’ betrayal, he attacks, but his atoms are scattered across the universe when Chronos throws him into the quantum field stream. (Before he dies, he throws in that he knew Chronos’ biological father, who helped to build Chronopolis. Ordinarily, this would be a big deal. This issue addresses the idea and moves on in a mere three panels.) This leaves three pages of story, but I think we all know by now that John Francis Moore isn’t going to waste time with filler.

Chronos learns that he’s accidentally responsible for exiling Fiorella to Chronopolis, since her past was changed along with his. He resolves to fix this, but not before he takes care of a few other things. This leads to a montage of Chronos entering past issues of the book and committing heroic acts during events that technically no longer involve him. The Linear Man from the first issue is saved, Vyronis is apprehended, the Justice League Killer is stopped before his first murder, etc. Unfortunately, while traveling to 1872 Smallville, he learns that no one’s heard of fellow time-traveler Alex. The Goodfellow Troupe has been replaced by the W. S. Walcot Traveling Entertainers, a mystery that leads into the next, and final, issue.

So, clearly this is rushed. Moore’s plots are incredibly dense on a good day, so when he’s stuck writing the final chapters of a prematurely cancelled book, even one he’s decided to pull the plug on, it’s no surprise that a lot of things are going to happen on every single page. When Moore isn’t squeezing as much plot as possible into every panel, he explores the emotional ramifications of Chronos erasing himself quite well, and manages to make Fiorella more sympathetic than usual as she realizes that she’s doomed to live outside of time as another version of herself (one that never met Chronos) lives out her life. Chronos’ move into heroism is also smartly played, allowing him to finally use his powers selflessly and correct his mistakes from the previous issues. The emotional arc that gets him to this place could’ve used more room, but that’s true of every element of this comic. The advertised battle on the cover only lasts two pages! It’s a shame, too, because Paul Guinan’s ability to draw real world landscapes like Constantinople is being brushed aside in order to make room for all of the revelations that have to be made before the series wraps up. Moore is admirably trying to pay everything off, but many of these ideas are rushed through so fast they can’t have any real impact.

1 comment:

kerry said...

Nothin' like the much-coveted Azrael cameo to bring in readers!

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