Have you ever played Heroscape? It’s a miniatures game, mostly marketed at children, in which each player assembles an army from amongst the cross-genre pieces. You can choose from robots or army guys or monsters or ninjas or pretty much whatever genre you can imagine. “The War that Time Forgot” #4 is like watching someone play that game, but with less ninjas and more exclamation points.
I liked the first issue of this series, actually. I liked how it drew upon DC’s past to pull characters from different eras into a story with crazed dinosaur attacks. But three issues later, the story has barely progressed beyond the level of a bunch of characters running around, attacking each other, and/or avoiding monsters. The old-timey characters, like Firehawk, don’t understand technology, while the high-tech characters, like G. I. Robot, are seen as gods. It’s like that scene in “Return of the Jedi” with C3PO and the Ewoks, but instead of funny little alien teddy bears, we get Roman centurions without a clue.
The art, by Al Barrionuevo, is fine. Barrionuevo doesn’t do a great job distinguishing each character facially, but since they all have their emblematic uniforms — kind of like a time-tossed Village People — it doesn’t much matter that his work lacks the subtleties of characterization. He’s good with jungle scenery and dinosaurs, though, which is important in a story like this.
The way the first issue ended indicated that this series would deal with the political maneuverings of the different factions on the island — that it would be kind of a “Lord of the Flies” with DC’s c-list historical characters. There’s still eight issues left, so it may yet develop in that direction, but like the original Robert Kanigher “War that Time Forgot” stories, this Bruce Jones incarnation has just settled into a dull rut. Sure, there’s an attempt at development — however cursory — and the stories don’t start over from scratch each issue like they did in the “Star-Spangled War Stories” era, but at least those stories only cost you a dime while buying this whole story will set you back over $35. There’s just not enough here to justify that kind of intellectual or financial investment.
Ultimately, the fun promise of the first issue hasn’t been lived up to yet, and I can’t imagine that I’ll stick around for eight more issues hoping it will.