Time travel stories are tough to execute. You have so much you need to establish from the outset to give the reader that one wrong move, or a plethora of wrong moves, will sink your story before it has a chance to really get started.
From Alterna Comics, Charge #1 is from writers Chris Jury and Dan Jury. The artists are Adhitya Zulkarnaen and Pam Siega. It tells the story of a research facility in 1975 that is trying to establish a power source but happens to come across time travelers who are a part of a future war.
The issue starts slow which does not do it favors. The writers want to throw the reader into the deep end of the world they’ve created but failed to give them some basic points to get acquainted with the characters and the premise. It wasn’t until halfway in the issue that I had some idea of what was going on which was not good. Did I need a character giving three pages of exposition? No. Yet there could have been some instances early on where characters could have filled the audience in on the story while still driving the story forward. Without this information, the reader is not really given a reason to care about what is going on.
For a story that is centered on time travel, the time traveling that occurs in the story seems so out of place that it appears to be a part of another story. Early on in the issue, we go from 1975 to 2017. The change happens so suddenly that I had to go back to make sure I wasn’t missing anything. You get no reason for the jump in time other than the fact they wanted to go to 2017. Later on a group of future soldiers appear in 1975 but act so laid back that I had to question whether they were soldiers or just some folks that showed up from an NRA convention and brought their weapons with them. Soldiers would have more urgency to make sure their current location was secure. When the scientists approach the soldiers, apart from some veiled threats, the soldiers don’t even raise their weapons. What is the point of having soldiers in your story if they’re not going to act like soldiers?
The art work was pretty solid. While not perfect, it did more right than it got wrong. I loved the external locations in the story. The artists really captured a sense of reality that I really enjoyed that is sometimes missing in comics. My big complaint with any comic comes when the locations don’t feel real. This felt real and I enjoyed it.
The biggest issue I had with the art had to do with the fact that the research facility was damn near deserted. The story mentioned that funding was cut from the place which I’m sure is the reason for the place being near empty but what was confusing was the added bit of dialogue that said that the funding was cut so suddenly that folks just up and left, leaving personal belongings behind. That to me would indicate that there would be a lot more left in the building than there was. Also, the big machine the scientists are working on appears to have one cable attached to it. For a machine that is meant to be harnessing power as an energy source, I expected a lot more connected to it than there was. For what the machine is able to do in the story, how simplistic it is drawn really takes the believability of the event and tosses it out the window.
This was not the best start for the story. While it has some intriguing places they could go in future issues, the stilted dialogue, the lack of establishing the story properly, and some choices in the art are enough for me to recommend passing on the issue. The art had some brilliance shine through in some of the pages but the story itself ends up negating any positives the art made. If I were to give any advice to the writing team it would be to make sure you have a couple more passes with an editor to make sure little mistakes don’t end up tanking the story. The problems I had were not big problems at all but they built up on top of each other to the point where any enjoyment I had reading the story was gone by the last page.