An inventively violent sci-fi war comic, Stuart Jennett’s Chronos Commandos (Titan Books) posits an alternate Earth WWII where the Nazis and Allies have both developed time traveling technology – and battle for control of it in the dino-populated Cretaceous Period.
Collecting the first five issues of his Titan Comics run, Chronos Commandos: Dawn Patrol sets the ground rules in its opening episode. In it, we see a quartet of soldiers landing in the midst of a primordial swamp where two ravenous raptors are feasting on a fallen prey. Led by the surly Sarge (his name’s redacted, but he’s a clear comic book cousin to Sergeants Fury and Rock), the band has its first grisly casualty ten pages in as a bespectacled private gets chomped in two – strands of viscera holding the bitten top half from its dangling bottom – by a T. Rex. If the Nazis don’t get ya, the wildlife will.
Sarge returns as the sole survivor of this first mission, and when he gets back to the present, he finds the Professor – an Albert Einstein lookalike – defending himself from Nazis who have infiltrated the secret time base and stolen the core to the chronosphere: the doohickey which powers the good guys’ time traveling equipment. With scant time before reserve energy runs out, Sarge has to take a new unit (“a tech guy and some muscle”) once more into the past to retrieve the core.
The fresh dino fodder includes two indistinguishable soldiers and tech guy Peabody, a full-on nerd enamored with a comic book hero named Crash Jordan, whose clean-cut mien is meant to contrast with our scruffy battle vets. Their Nazis nemeses are led by Captain Richter, a Schwarzennegger-ish foe who thinks nothing of shooting one of his own men if they’re lagging. (Richter and the Sarge have history, of course.) While the commandos wend their way through a landscape filled with thunder lizards and Skull Island variety giant spiders, the Professor has to fend off a Nazi spy who has infiltrated the time base.
Packed with quick burst battle action, gruesome monster attacks and playful time travel paradoxes, Chronos Commandos provides enough revved-up thrills to glut a classroom worth of fifth grade boys. Writer/artist Jennett’s colorful art is stronger on the beasties and their habitat than it is on his people, who come across fairly flat at times, but most of the book’s target audience will likely not care too much about that – any more than my boyhood self cared about the B-Movie acting level in Ray Harryhausen’s movies. Jennett’s monsters, both reptilian and human, are the big draw here – which is as it should be.[amazon template=iframe image&asin=1782760067]