Time Shifters Straddles Moods of Tragedy, Silliness
Chris Grine (CHICKENHARE) puts out graphic novels with all the restraint of a fourth grade storyteller. His cast of characters are the "pulled out of a hat at random" variety pack that should have absolutely no logical team cohesion -- how else to explain that the good guys are a scientist, a ghost, a chicken-beaked T-rex and Robot Abraham Lincoln, and that the bad guys are a skeleton in a pressurized space suit, a hollow mummy, and Vampire Napoleon?
This is the world that young Luke is thrown into when he sees a flash of light in the woods near his home. Having spent the last few months mourning the loss of his older brother who died in a pond trying to save Luke from bullies, Luke enters those woods again for the first time to find the aforementioned skeleton, mummy and Vampire Napoleon hunting for a lost device. Luke finds the device and is soon on the run from the henchmen, rescued at the last second by the inexplicable appearance of Doc, a female ghost named Artemis, and Robot Abraham Lincoln, all riding a mutant T-Rex named Zinc.
Soon enough, Luke is lost in an extra-dimensional chase, landing on a world of wild west giant spider prospectors and small-town grub folks. As he comes to accept his newfound friends, he ends up helping to save Robot Lincoln from outlaw spiders who want to cook him and eat him, all while tailed by the henchmen (who constantly blame their blunderings to their unseen boss on Vampire Lincoln when he's unable to defend himself).
For all its adventurous silliness, TIME SHIFTERS struggles to find a semblance of balance. It opens with heartmelting tragedy, jumps into Cartoon Network mode, then ends with a different heartbreak before riding off into the sunset. In a way, the book seems to be trying to be a Doug TenNapel story but falling short. When it works, it works great. But overall I found myself wishing it found a little more balance between the two moods it tries to straddle.
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