On the first page, Matt Kindt and Scott Kolins deliver the context for their story in “Past Aways” #1 with a text block. However, none of that seems to matter once the story gets rolling with a deadly dragon-chicken beast threatening tourists and locals in Athens, Greece. Kolins really sells the beast on the first page, which is sharply punctuated by a growling shriek that Rob Leigh hand-letters into the scene. Leigh clearly adds all of the sound effects to bring out more character and zest alongside Kolins’ heavily-detailed drawings.
After that opening scene, Kolins is tasked with a wide array of subject matter to draw, from chronohelmets and quad-copters to fishing worms and barrooms. In his standard, busily-detailed style, Kolins mixes up the level of detail he conscribes to each object or character, frequently serving up panels that are open and free of extraneous shading lines and feature people with stubby body hair, extreme piercings, exaggerated anatomy and terse expressions.
Art is the first deep-time explorer featured in “Past Aways” #1. Kindt and Kolins don’t really give readers enough of a sense of why Art — who is introduced to readers while he’s camped out on the toilet — should be interesting or affable, aside from the fact that he poops just like us and is embarking on a “Blues Brothers”-esque mission to get the band back together. That doesn’t go so well with the first one he reaches out to. As a matter of fact, it results in a fight that isn’t very fluid nor at all assisted by the very similar uniforms the duo is wearing.
Beyond that, Kindt’s characters all exhibit a modicum of personality. When matched with their tags on the cover, it’s enough to wade forward, but nowhere near enough to elicit empathy or interest. On the cover, Ursula is dubbed the “soul and conscience of the team… secretly wishes she were dead,” except there is no secret about it whatsoever. She’s trying to die and makes no pretense to cover her suicidal tendencies. She’s simply matched with Herbert, the “emotionally detached documentarian,” who may as well be replaced by a narrator like the Cryptkeeper or Phantom Stranger. Marge is the apparent brawler on the team, while Art and Phil have a disagreement that seems to only have a dire outcome.
“Past Aways” #1 is bright and colorful with lots of red, yellow and black to pump up contrast, courtesy of colorist Bill Crabtree. The colorist helps Kolins’ art gain a little more depth, but even more would be appreciated. The visuals for this comic book stretch out in a few different directions as a mishmash of ideas. Some of them, like the technology blurbs that appear at least once on nearly every spread, are fun little additions that point in a new direction while the Past Aways headquarters schematic is a nice nod to yesteryear and the nostalgia inherent in time travel adventures.
Kindt and company introduce a “Challengers of the Unknown” vibe by way of Rip Hunter, but the heart in this first issue is missing, with only bickering where that heart should be. “Past Aways” #1 is packed with promise but lacking on energy, starting the series out rather slowly. Hopefully now that Kindt, Kolins, Crabtree and Leigh have introduced the crew, they can give us a reason to want to see more of these characters and their adventures.