As a reader, it’s good to find creators (authors or illustrators) who push the boundaries of what’s considered acceptable in a genre. If you read too much of the same thing, you can get stuck in a rut and miss out on interesting ideas just because they don’t fit within what you consider acceptable. Every so often, I like to pick up stories by authors who are known for pushing the boundaries in graphic novels just to see what they’ve come up with. Sometimes I like it and sometimes I don’t, but if you don’t challenge yourself, you don’t grow as a reader or a person. In an effort to push my boundaries a little, I decided to take a look at one of Mark Millar’s recent stories, Chrononauts. Millar is known for pushing the envelope in absurd plotlines, turning conventions upside down and including content that people might find objectionable. In Chrononauts, Millar tackles time travel in standard Millar style with a bromance heavy on the bros. Chrononauts is written by Millar and illustrated by Sean Gordon Murphy. It was published in 2015 by Image Comics and does not yet have a sequel so it’s a rather quick read.
In a historic leap for mankind, brilliant scientists Corbin Quinn and Danny Reilly have developed suits that allow them to travel back in time and observe historic events as they happened. While much of the world is excited about the possibilities of seeing events instead of having to read about them in the history books, things quickly go awry when Corbin finally realizes the full potential that time traveling could afford them and wants to have some adventure to make up for the decade that he devoted his life to proving time travel was even possible. Regardless of anything else, the Chrononauts will have to rely on each other in order to make it back to their own time in one piece.
I may as well admit now that by and large, I can’t stand Mark Millar’s writing. He’s in the same camp for me as Frank Miller and Garth Ennis of creators who like to push boundaries but never do so with any subtlety. All three tend to go with the clubbing you over the head method for messing with conventions instead of something more subtle. Chrononauts is a lot of what I dislike about Millar. The only thing it’s missing is rape. It’s got over the top violence, absurd action sequences and absolutely no repercussions for anything the main characters choose to do. Corbin and Danny routinely mess around with the timeline and use the suits to create their own personal empire of wealth, power and as many women as they can possibly manage to have sex with at the same time. And not to worry, they’ll never have to pay for it ever! Sigh. Chrononauts certainly hits the mark in pushing boundaries with high octane action but it’s got about as much heart and intelligence as XXX.
If you want an action packed, mindless time travel adventure, Chrononauts is probably a decent pick. Especially if you like the bromance of two smart guys out to have as much fun as possible during their timestream adventure. If you want a time travel adventure with moral quandaries, characters who are more than just “red-blooded men” and explosions, try Black Science instead. While Millar has plenty of fans, it’s time to admit that despite enjoying Wanted, I’m just not one of them.