Mark Millar and Sean Gordon Murphy begin to blow out the premise of their series with the second issue of “Chrononauts.” Almost immediately, Danny Reilly is dropped into an anachronistic scenario, where warlords fight an army equipped with assault rifles and modern military-grade weaponry in the year 1504. From the opening panel, Millar makes it clear that Corbin Quinn has been abusing his chronosuit as a muscle car races by Reilly, and it gets worse from there. Quinn, now a king in that era and living like one in several others, revels in his ability to be above the timestream. With his work leaving him feeling adrift in his own time, he celebrates the fruits of the efforts that have cost him his personal life: the doctor has gone walkabout through all of reality, popping in and out of any era.
Murphy illustrates the confidence in Quinn’s work, backed by the somber sadness stemming from his divorce. He postures Quinn confidently throughout but the character’s eyes betray that stance with a quiet longing for the one thing he can’t have at the moment: his wife in his arms once again. Loss hangs heavy over the series, even in the face of the wondrous happenings; Millar proves that, even with the ability to traverse time, one can never truly escape the pain they carry inside themselves. Reilly is swept up in the madness, and Millar gives Danny the childlike glee of someone who’s just been handed everything they’ve ever wanted. His levelheadedness is extinguished by Corbin’s minimal goading and the temptation of godlike status.
The creative team has fun with the time-hopping elements of the issue and, though Millar’s plot unsurprisingly has the duo chasing more base interests, it’s clear the team is setting the pair up for disaster. With danger looming and Corbin’s mind on his wedding day, one has to wonder how soon the doctor will use his newfound time hopping powers to show up on that day and fail to convince himself that he needs to cherish the time he spends with his new bride.
Murphy does a spectacular job creating authentic experiences across the timestream, delivering period-authentic designs and costuming throughout. His character work is cartoony, yet full of expression; there never seems to be a wasted line in his art and his characters’ expressions are delightful. The mixture of emotions across the page when Reilly decides to shut off his tracker is both exciting and foreboding. Murphy is at the top of his game with this series.
Millar pushes the action forward quickly, disposing with the need to sit in the status quo for too long. The montage nature of the plot makes for a fast-paced read and, though the sci-fi of the story is more fiction than science, the excitement of discovery for the protagonists makes up for the disparities in the facts.
This issue is staged as the party before the parents come home, as the cliffhanger reveals that the timestream is about to see a lot of fighting. With danger creeping into Corbin’s personal life as well, Millar and Murphy give readers a story where the walls can close in on a character even when they’re not bound by any physical restrictions. “Chrononauts” is shaping up to be another hit Millar-world book.