At less than a buck a story, “Time Warp” #1 gives you nine tales that range in content and character, but so much in quality. A couple of the stories aren’t hew too closely to the time-travel them, opting for a more general science fiction or horror tone with an aspect of time-travel tied into the plot, but the overtly time-themed tales more than make up for those that slip slightly off topic.
Any time-centric anthology from DC Comics is required by law (at least in thirty-seven states) to include a story featuring Rip Hunter. “R.I.P.,” by Damon Lindelof and Jeff Lemire takes Rip back to basics, stranded in the distant past, with no other time-traveling pals to commiserate with, resulting in a typical, classic DC character stripped down to his essence then filtered through the Vertigo funnel story. There’s some colorful language and a depressing outlook, but overall, it’s a very entertaining story and a fantastic way to launch the extra-sized one-shot. Besides, it’s Rip Hunter, so naturally we’re treated to time spheres and dinosaurs “Sweet Tooth”-style thanks to Lemire’s art and coloring from his constant collaborator Jose Villarrubia.
Tom King and Tom Fowler deliver “It’s Full of Demons,” a story that turns the clock back to the turn of the twentieth century. A brother and sister are having a fun time outside, playing cowboys and Indians, but their game is savagely turned into a murder scene that taints the thoughts of the survivor, melting the mind to mush and providing a head-slapping, “Of course!” moment. Fowler’s art, blended with Jordie Bellaire’s colors, is simply pitch-perfect for this tale, making the first two chapters of this anthology worth no less than half the price of admission. It is also worth noting that among the amazing talent assembled, Bellaire’s colors are the best of the fine bunch of colorists.
The volume then throws a change of pace tale our way with “I Have What You Need,” the Vertigo debut of Gail Simone who spins a story that provides both happy endings and depressing thoughts with an ironic, time-travel twist worthy of an episode of “The Twilight Zone.” This installment features the most animated art of the issue from Gael Bertrand, filled with characters that look like warped love children of Simpsons and anime.
Simon Spurrier brings “The Grudge,” providing pseudo-science in classic comic book fashion, centered on a lifelong feud between two rival scientists who twist a professional squabble into a wide-ranging, decades-spanning war of words. There’s some Vertigo-level humor to be found here among the theories and notions delivered in rapid-fire succession make it considerably more believable when coupled with art from Michael Dowling.
The Dead Boy Detectives appear in a story that really has very little to do with time-travel and instead serves as an interlude of sorts. Written by Toby Litt with art from Mark Buckingham and Victor Santos, the story is indicated to be part two and leaves a cliffhanger to be followed up on in an upcoming anthology. It barely has time to set itself in motion before wrapping up.
Following that, Peter Milligan and M. K. Perker bring “She’s Not There,” which is more of a science fiction/horror/ghost tale than a time-travel story. The art is sleek and wonderful and the story enjoyable. I found myself truly wanting more of the developments of Angel and James once this chapter closed.
Ray Fawkes and Andy MacDonald’s piece is pure science fiction with a side of temporal transgression. Titled “00:00:03,” this chapter is of one woman’s lifetime journey played back before her eyes as she recognizes the approaching conclusion. MacDonald’s art is keenly detailed and plays up the sci-fi angle quite nicely. It’s not hard to imagine this story taking the leap from comic to another format.
Matt Kindt’s “Warning Danger” story is all futuristic sci-fi, the type of story we’ve seen time and again, but Kindt spruces it up with labeled technological highlights of the armor his combatants sport. Kindt’s knack for details is so extreme that the story stands up quite nicely and the painterly artwork is a breath of fresh air in “Time Warp” #1.
That brings us to the finale of this issue. “The Principle” reminds readers that this anthology is (at least loosely) based on time-travel. I.N.J. Culbard’s artwork is extremely stylistic, like Chris Samnee mixed in with a healthy dose of Sergio Aragones. The story addresses the unsung participants in time-travel who are responsible for ensuring no one actively disrupts major events in history with the technology.
All in all, “Time Warp” #1 is a fun collection. That pricepoint is killer, but Vertigo does an admirable job of filling the anthology with variety and quality. Heck, they even address the quandary of what should be done ethically with the availability of time-travel. After all, what is a time-travel anthology without answering the age-old question of whether or not Adolf Hitler should perish before his time?