Most of us don’t really remember the days when Asimov’s Science Fiction was big, but we can have a taste of that old spirit with the new anthology of comics released by Vertigo, Time Warp. The anthology includes well-known writers such as Gail Simone (Birds of Prey, Wonder Woman) and Damon Lindelof (Lost, Star Trek), and has a central theme of time travel, all of which made me very interested in picking this up.
Story by Damon Lindelof
Art by Jeff Lemire
I vacillated on this part of the review for a long time. Time-travel stories are all about the twist ending, and while this one’s ending is mostly predictable (if not impossible in both linear and non-linear conceptions of time), I would hate to spoil it. In short, I decided that this is the best description I can give: “R.I.P” is a bittersweet story about being eaten by a dinosaur, and I’m going to end it there.
It’s Full of Demons
Story and Art by Tom King and Tom Fowler
“It’s Full of Demons” harkens to a little remembered form of science fiction that is more about emotion than it is about science or plot, and though I wasn’t really that interested in the story, I’m still going to label it good for that fact alone.
It follows a little girl named Paula who watches her brother get shot by an orange astronaut in 1901 with the garbled words “Dyisy’eas Djaus Teys. Farg’Mey”, which I’m relatively certain is “This is for justice. Forgive me.” It follows Paula’s life of mental hospitals and homelessness in a world that is almost like, but not quite ours.
It also requires a lot of history knowledge, though you don’t really have to know that Hitler had a little sister named Paula to figure that the story is about going back in time to kill Hitler, which ushers in war that truly ends all wars, and peace becomes established.
Though, that’s not the point of the story. The point is to follow the life of someone who would never know the evil their family would become, and be scarred by their mysterious and unexplainable deaths.
I Have What You Need
Story by Gail Simone
Art by Gael Bertrand
If you were aching for stories that recall Ray Bradbury, you really need look no further than “I Have What You Need”. Don’t let the cutesy art fool you though, the story is chock full of tragedy, even if there are some happy endings.
The story centers around a candy shop that specializes in candies that can let people live ten prefect minutes of their life without time passing. The villain of the story is a mustache-less Hitler looking little fellow who wants to live the moments where he killed his abusive wife. I’m not really all that interested in spoiling short stories that are only eight pages long, so let’s suffice to say that some bad end unhappily, some good end both happily and unhappily.
Story by Simon Spurrier
Art by Michael Dowling
I like to think that my more scientifically inclined friends would get a kick out of “The Grudge”. For every section that’s humorous comes a sort of confounding reasoning behind it.Essentially, this short follows two scientists who hold a grudge against one another and find increasingly impossible ways to write insulting messages to one another. It hits critical mass when one of them figures out the mechanics of time travel.
Sadly, I’m not very good at science, so I think a lot of the jokes go over my head. That being said, the art in this short story is great, and what I did understand made me laugh.
The Dead Boy Detectives in Run Ragged
Story by Toby Litt
Concept by Neil Gaiman
This is really the only short story in the bunch I didn’t like. This is mostly because it’s a Part 2 to something I’ve never heard of, with a concept I don’t know, which is to say I that I didn’t know who or what The Dead Boy Detectives are. Now I know it’s a Neil Gaiman thing.
So, basically, I’m not really sure what happens in the story, or who the characters are, or why the cat Twinkle matters so much. What I do know is that it’s tangentially related to time-travel because apparently people have been in this school for longer than they should be alive. In any case, the story follows two little boys who are running away from the school, with their vindictive and evil headmaster hot on their heels. It apparently is to be continued… so it feels out of place in comparison to the other short stories.
She’s Not There
Story by Peter Milligan
Art by M.K Perker
Written in memory of Joe Kubert, “She’s Not There” handles time travel in a different way, namely bring back the ghost of a loved one by using various electronic mediums. If you think sounds a little bit like Caprica, you’re about halfway to knowing what the theme is.
Essentially, a man pays to have his wife come back and haunt him, never realizing that while the ghost has the memories of his wife, it doesn’t necessarily mean she is his wife. One gets the real notion, throughout the story, that the man treated his wife in death the same as he had in life by keeping her locked away from the world, something that obviously makes her miserable. The ending is inconclusive, but ominous, and something that reminds me very much of the science fiction shorts of old. Thus, it gets a hearty thumbs up from me.
Story by Ray Fawkes
Art by Tony MacDonald
This story took a little bit for me to initially get into. There is a definite wall of uncertain exposition in the beginning, but the ending is worth it. Time travel in this story takes the form of perception. When a group of military mechs meet their end, they are put into a time dilation where the perceive 20 minutes for ever 1, thus giving them a chance to take final action (supposedly to save themselves, or find a way to complete their mission). This story is about what soldier in this situation does, and it’s ending is just simply lovely.
Story and art by Matt Kindt
I suppose I should start this by saying that I love the art in “Warning Danger”, if even I don’t particularly care for the story.
That being said, it’s a science fiction tales is a throwback to the days of SF that was couched in political commentary, and so I can’t and won’t be that negative. The story follows two individuals who are dueling for the rights to colonize a planet that has an abundance of resources, while using weapons that cost their planets dearly. It’s a civil sort of war the two civilizations war, and it ends on a note that feels like a song that didn’t really get resolved.
Story by Dan Abnett
Art by INJ Culbard
Though “The Principle” is not that action-packed, I like to think that they saved the best for last. It’s not really a story, but a description about a time where anybody can go back in time and screw things up, namely kill Hitler. The main characters’ job is to make sure that if the timeline is disrupted by someone (such as killing Hitler) that they fix it. Essentially, their job is save Hitler, and kill Martin Luther King.
As I said, it’s not really a story, but I still love it because of the potential in that basic concept.
Time Warp is a fantastic set of science fiction tales with the theme of time travel, and I highly suggest that you pick it up. Even if you’re not a fan of short stories, the comic medium makes them instantly more accessible, and the worlds more real.
So, pick this one up, and make sure the next issue is going to be on your pull list.
5 out of 5 Atoms