Wednesday, February 1, 2012

CHRONOS #8 - October 1998

Ghost Train
Credits: John Francis Moore (writer), Paul Guinan (penciler), Denis Rodier (inks), Ken Bruzenak (letters), Mike Danza (colors)

2113: Chronos and Fiorella arrive in Washington DC, hoping that Baron Winters (apparently another ex-lover of Fiorella’s) will help them reach Chronopolis. I have no idea who Baron Winters is, but based on his brief appearance this issue, I was able to correctly guess that he’s an existing DCU character. I’m not sure if his mansion, Gravesend Manor, debuted in any of his previous appearances, but Moore’s clearly tying it into a larger story he’s telling. Winters refuses to help Fiorella, but decides that it’s in his best interests for Chronos to owe him a favor. Joined by Winters’ aide Genji Hitomaro, an ex-sumo wrestler and recovering drug addict, Chronos and Fiorella are sent through a door in the mansion that takes them to…

2452: Metropolis. The city’s in ruins, Superman’s been gone for over a hundred years, and somehow an underground train called the “Trans-Avant Garde” is going to take Chronos and Fiorella to Chronopolis. Genji Hitomaro is given a heroic death as he clears the tracks of the alien metrognomes (the monsters on the cover), allowing the train to depart. The Trans-Avant Garde goes through numerous timelines, bringing us the inevitable cameo appearance by the Legion of Super-Heroes, before reaching Chronopolis. (Why doesn’t Chronos just use the train to go back to the ‘70s, his original destination in the previous issue? Uh…apparently it’s too fast to control. And why couldn’t one of the rooms in Winters’ mansion take Chronos to the ‘70s? Umm…) Chronos thinks he’s safe, but the mysterious Gravesend is secretly spying on him. It’s a dramatic cliffhanger that won’t be resolved until three issues later.

I’m assuming this issue was designed to give DC a more straightforward, action-oriented story. Just look at that cover…isn’t this guy a take-charge, square-jawed hero who’s clearly saving the day? Never mind that he barely confronts those aliens in the issue, and it’s actually a new, extremely minor character who handles most of the action. To be honest, I’m not even sure why Genji Hitomaro is even in this issue. Usually, when a new character is introduced and given a noble sacrifice plot to act out, the story goes out of its way to make him a sympathetic figure. Moore certainly works in some backstory for Genji, an odd one at that, but he doesn’t seem too interested in fleshing out his personality. Even with the new, more linear focus, there’s not a lot of room in the issue to really do anything with Genji, making me wonder why he’s in the story in the first place. If the goal was to make this a more commercial title, wouldn’t it have made more sense for the title’s hero to fight the aliens…y’know, like he's doing on the cover?


Anonymous said...

Baron Winters is an interesting character.
He was introduced in the Night Force series, from the 1980s and written by Marv Wolfman.
Then, he showed up again in a second Night Force series in the 1990s.
Both of the series are quality reads.

wwk5d said...

I haven't read this series (but do want to check it out, if only for the art work), but with this being about time travel...maybe Genji will show up again later?

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