Monday, August 2, 2010

Time Lincoln: Fists of Führer - Review

I saw the cover, and read the title, and just had to know. Lincoln is one of the better historical characters to send through time and not only does fighting Hitler always sound good but there also seems to be mysticism involved, above and beyond the titular hint of time travel. I blasted through this issue and there are a few good things you should know about it. Hit the jump to find out what those things are.

Time Lincoln: Fists of Führer

Story and Art by Fred Perry
Colours by Robby Bevard & Wes Hartman
Cover by Kelsey Shannon

I picked this up and added it to my weekly haul and Mal, the champion behind the counter of my LCS, just started laughing. It was the logo that got him, looked like the sort of thing a ten year old would make using every variable difference in WordArt, or as he put it, ‘they must have got the credit artist from Ang Lee’s Hulk.’ I agreed but it didn’t hold me back, I had to know what would pit Time Lincoln against super-caped Hitler on Mount Rushmore.

One slight annoyance I have; to find out how Lincoln got into this position you need to have read the prior Time Lincoln issue, even though this one is shown clearly to be a #1. I didn’t know I’d missed a previous issue and though that annoys me it doesn’t seem to have stopped me understanding what has come before. The opening scene, and first few pages, quickly world build exactly what I have purchased. Ben Franklin is flying a kite and when John Adams questions him on this course of action instead of actually running the government. Franklin explains that he’s been observing an opening in space-time and conversing with some other great minds throughout history like George Washington Carver, Sir Isaac Newton, Albert Einstein, and a mentioned Nikola Tesla. They were pulled together when Abraham Lincoln was sent through time by Void Stalin, a massive villain who is creating the void between time and rocking the best villain name ever. It seems much of this was covered in the previous issue so not sure how much was new info or not. Either way, it’s a pretty interesting concept and surprisingly well executed.

With the explanation over, Franklin uses the electricity from the kite experiment to charge his prototype time travel device. He arrives to find Honest Abe beset by Demonazis as sent by Mephitler after he captured Einstein. I know, right, let that sentence just soak in for a second, it’s pretty damn good. We get the instant hero team up against Demonazis as they use some science to blast them apart. We then discover Abe’s true power, he’s seen the Void and he can also control it. He’s the one man who can stop Void Stalin, of course.

Abe and Franklin mount their counter offensive against Mephitler to rescue Einstein. It’s relatively simple now that Abe knows his Void based powers and it’s full of zapping punches and ram-skulled staffs. There’s a one page sequence as Abe and Mephitler duke it out and the colour work and contrasts are strikingly resemblance of Frank Miller’s iconic work between his Dark Knight and Superman. We only see silhouettes and Mephitler’s red cape flowing back against Time Lincoln’s glowing scientific accouterments. It’s a scene that strikes me as solid homage but not just complete copying. I really dug the fight but I figure any page where Hitler is getting a mouth full of fist is going to make me smile.

The fight ends with a solid display of why some independent comics can be awesome. Time Lincoln has Mephitler on the ropes and all it’s going to take is one more punch and that’s what Abe gives him. A shocked and stunned Einstein marvels at the ‘rising void punch’. Lincoln’s Kirby dotted fist rockets Mephitler up through a Void portal and into the blackness between time. It’s a moment where video game meets the comic page and I can unashamedly admit I completely loved it. It’s the sort of thing that could become a poster or an internet meme easily. It’s cool and if you’re a teenager and you don’t think this moment is the best thing you’ve seen all week then you need to act your age, son.

The tale wraps up neatly so all you need, really, is the one issue so my annoyances and fear for this ‘one-shot’ are well allayed. This stands alone and you can enjoy it though it does all rocket by pretty quickly. We wrap up with a joke that might as well have closed a very special episode of Blossom but there’s still set up for further tales. It world builds even as it concludes.

Time Lincoln is a good comic but it still hasn’t muscled its way into the echelons of greatness. Too many characters spout exposition rather than tell us who they are. There’s so much how to be understood that we often don’t get the why. I’d like to see more true back and forth between some of these characters rather than just have them set up the next set piece. I’d heard this comic mentioned along with Brian Clevinger’s name but Time Lincoln isn’t quite Atomic Robo just yet. It lacks the complete cerebral punch and punchline that comic offers. Time Lincoln pushes you forward rather than savouring the moment and giving you the best lines you could be offered. I think now the world is completely built, Perry can move forward to really show us inside the minds of these masters as they twist time and create new and crazy situations.

Fred Perry certainly has established a war chest of interesting concepts, characters, and storylines. He seems to love the zaniness inherent in pitting these historical figures against one another and making them into something more. Perry delivers a few decent laughs but he needs to decide which way his series will go; is it hard boiled pulp or would he prefer a more adolescent tone. It felt like the comic flips somewhere between these two and I think to be more effective it needs to take a side and tackle it completely. It can still be serious and have some laughs but at the moments it’s just a bit too simple and flippant.

Perry’s art is actually quite good as he delivers a few pages where iconic sequences are being posed. His character designs are easily recognizable as the historical figures they are, but his more angular line work makes these men his own. Lincoln looks like a time traveling, zap gun wielding, Demonazi stomping bad ass. The villains look like creepy threats and the action flows well. There’s usually a distinct lack of backgrounds, which is a shame but there’s generally plenty of dialogue to take your mind off that.
Verdict – Check It. Time Lincoln is not perfect but it does offer enough to merit looking at. You’ve got the greatest minds of history bucking heads throughout time and fighting in battles far grander and crazier than were ever waged in the real world. It's a powder keg of future world building that delivers science just like Honest Abe would love, straight into someone's jaw. At times, it's exposition heavy but I hope that Fred Perry will get enough money to delve back into this world and hopefully offer us something even better.

*Note: I haven’t read Five Fists of Science so can’t speak for comparisons there, so I won’t.

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Ivan said...

Haha, nice Street Fighter references with Lincoln = Ryu and Hitler = Bison.

Matthew said...

This - this may be my perfect comic.

Anonymous said...

Time Lincoln...I believe Aqua Teen Hunger Force said all there is to say on that topic.

Space Jawa said...

I will HAVE to check this out if/when it comes to trade format...

Colt said...

Sounds like a lot of fun.

But, I have to point out that Benito Cereno and Graeme MacDonald had a time-traveling Abe Lincoln dragon-punch Hitler first.

Ryan K Lindsay said...

@Colt - wow, that's....interesting...though to be fair, I coudl watch Abe uppercut Hitler non-stop for days and it wouldn't get old. Thanks for the link though, nice to see nothing's really new.

I'd suggest most people find this comic cheap, it's not perfect but well worth a look.

Scott! said...

That's great. I love Fred Perry's work. It's nice to see him doing something that's not furry soft porn. =P

The energy in his art is amazing.

Definitely going to check this out.

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