[Editor’s note: This review may contain spoilers.]
“Timeless, Part 5” (20 pages)
Writer: Bryan Hitch
Artists: Fernando Pasarin (p) and Matt Ryan (i)
While Batman and Superman confront “Molly” in the present, trying to distract her from her plan to wipe all super-powered beings on Earth from existence, the other Justice Leaguers, still lost in various times, work together to destroy the time drive of Molly’s rival, Tempus, who merely wants to exile Earth’s super-humans at the end of time. That task is aided by Vincent, one of a trio of time-traveling teens who’ve been working with the World’s Finest duo. Using his blood to infect Tempus’ machine in the present, he’s able to communicate with the Leaguers, instructing them on how to destroy the time drive and return to the present. There, a defeated Molly tells the League that by defeating her and Tempus, the heroes have cleared the way for the even bigger threat they were trying to prevent, and it’s almost here.
The art by Pasarin and Ryan continues to look great. The layouts are dynamic without resorting to crazy panel shapes that confuse the reading order, and the characters look realistic, without over-exaggerated poses and facial grimaces. The combined effect is to lull the reader into a sense that he or she is following along with an adventure as it happens, as opposed to simply reading a comic book. I have wondered how Pasarin was able to keep up with the volume of pages required by the bi-weekly publishing schedule, and had assumed work must have begun on this story far in advance. But with this issue some of the the art, and some of the characters, begin to look a little different than they have over the four previous chapters, and I wonder if Matt Ryan might be working from less defined pencils and this point, allowing more of his own individual style to show through.
I also applaud Hitch’s writing. The characters all sound like individuals, making it a far cry from the Gardner Fox glory years when, faboo plots aside, one character was pretty much interchangeable with any other but for power sets. Hitch also has a knack for setting up interesting story situations, and I’m still comping at the bit to see what happens.
Of course, I’ve been chomping at that bit for five issues now, so it’s starting to ear through. And, frankly, with the very little plot ground having been covered since the second chapter, it is starting to be a bit tiring.
In fact, when we meet up with Lois and Jon still issue, they are exactly where we left them in the opening panels of Issue #15. And that’s not just due to this being a time travel story. I’d say maybe only 30 minutes or so of actual story time has passed over the last five issues. No, don’t get me wrong. A good plot does not require a vast passage of time. After all, the very best Spirit story by Will Eisner, who was among there very best comic book storytellers of all time, only took place over 10 minutes. But then, that story was only seven pages long. I’m now 100 pages, two-and-a-half months, and $14.95 into this story — so, forgive me if I feel like there should have been more to chew on. But really, what plot ground we’ve co covered over the past five issues could just as easily have been done over three, or even two.
For example, the guardian of reality known as Molly does a lot of explody boom-boom this issue, but really tells us next to nothing more about herself and her objectives that we knew from the final panel of the last issue. So, the eight pages of fighting with her we get this issue could have been condensed to three, two, or even one. Molly wants to protect the universe and that means killing Superman, and she’ll kill Lois and Jon first if he won’t submit willingly. That’s basically all that happened in eight pages of her making threats and hurling Phoenix-like fire blasts. Those same events could have been depicted as easily in eight panels, with not loss of visual power, in my humble opinion.
And, on the subject of banging the same drum, I’m starting to get annoyed with how little we know about Vincent, Alexis, and the third mysterious teen who, if I recall correctly, has yet to be named. Vincent does something interesting with his blood this issue — I suspect he’s an android, or at least has nanobots in his bloodstream, which allowed him to infect Tempus’ time drive. He may even be some version of Brainiac 5, given a reference this issue to his father — but apart from Alexis outing herself as Lex Luthor’s descendant, maybe even his daughter, it’s the first usable clue we’ve got yet to these kids’ true identities. Otherwise, it’s all been, “Mysterious teens are mysterious.” For five issues.
Oh, one other thing, and maybe this is me — but unless it’s some kind of Mandela Effect, I sweat I remember Alexis being the black girl. But this time the black girl is with Vincent and Alexis is the white girl, although she’s colored kind of brown in the pages of this outing, so, maybe there are two black girls now and the white one got hypertimed? I dunno. It’s a little frustrating.
What I have been saying about this book since the beginning still applies. It is very well drawn, and very well scripted, but the plotting really needs to pick up the pace.