Comics / Spotlight / Progressive Panels

Time Bomb

By Andy Frisk
September 16, 2010 - 22:35

Radical Publishing has produced some of the most visually appealing and intelligent sci-fi, horror, and speculative history comics in recent memory. Titles like Shrapnel: Aristeia Rising, Shrapnel: Hubris, Driver for The Dead, Mata Hari, and The Last Days of American Crime are not only visual treats, but are well paced, sharp, and engaging reads. Many of Radical Publishing’s titles take a seemingly worn out and overused idea and revive it by putting a unique spin on it. Ryder on the Storm, for example, blends the pulp fiction/detective novel genre with a futuristic hyper technological world setting and supernatural horror. The finished product ends up reading like a mash up of Hellblazer and Blade Runner that resembles both, yet is its own unique entity. Likewise, the superb Shrapnel: Hubris draws upon various themes such as racism, the role of women in a male dominated profession, post colonialism, and mecha-like sci-fi to create a fresh narrative that examines the old questions of the human condition in a new way. Time Bomb is no exception to this Radical Formula (if you will) and is perhaps the most accessible and engaging title they’ve produced. Radical Publications makes no secret of the fact that they want their products developed for the big screen (with Barry Levine as President and Publisher of Radical Comics this is no shock), and many of their titles are very cinematic reads. Time Bomb though (with perhaps the exception of Mata Hari), just might be the publisher’s best suited and most readily adaptable title. This book is one I’d love to see brought to life in theatres. It’s also an interestingly relevant title that, as a film as well, can help keep alive the memory of the lessons learned from the most devastating world war in history and its horrible villains, both of which are slipping from social memory and consciousness. Like all World War II fiction and film, Time Bomb is a warning against movements like Nazism/fascism. Especially now that technology approaching the devastating power of the bomb depicted in Time Bomb is becoming realistic. It’s also, like many World War II fictions and films, a great action packed adventure.


Briefly, Time Bomb, which opens in the year 2012, is the story of an archeological discovery made in Berlin, Germany of incredible historic and scientific importance that ends up heralding the destruction of the human race. It seems that the Nazis created an underground city that not only housed the means for hundreds to survive underground for years, but also housed a silo that contained a very special and singular missile and warhead. When the missile is accidentally launched, a form of biological warfare of horrific and global proportions is enacted by the Nazis decades after they lost the world war. They manage to poison the world with their weapon, and humanity is facing total extinction. The bomb and city are surmised to have been the Nazis’ final near zero sum weapon that thankfully was never launched…until now. The bomb would wipe out the human race, and the select members of the so called Nazi “master race” would survive underground and repopulate the world in their image. Mankind’s only hope is a select group of operatives recruited by the mysterious New World Order organization. They are to be sent back in time and are to arrive shortly before the launch of the missile. Their mission is to warn world leaders not to let the launch happen. The time travel program is aptly named Time Bomb, thus the dual meaning of the title. There are problems with the program though. One scientist was lost in time during an earlier experiment, but there is no other way to attempt to save mankind…and when the operatives arrive in 1940s Berlin, instead of  the 2012 Berlin of a few days ago, matters become much more complicated…

Series writers Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray (Freedom Fighters) construct a story that reads like (and can be translated to film like) a cross between Where Eagles Dare (1968) and The Final Countdown (1968). There are themes present in Time Bomb that are reminiscent of the themes of these two classic films. Much like in Where Eagles Dare, a large portion of the story deals with cloak and dagger machinations that the team is forced to undertake due to their arrival in Nazi Germany and not the Germany of 2012. Much like in Final Countdown, the team must deal with the question of taking action beyond the confines of their stated mission and changing world events that might result in the saving of literally millions of lives, but with unknown consequences. For the most part they stick to the mission, as best as they can under the circumstances. There is plenty of intrigue, sci-fi quandaries, and good old fashion Nazi bashing that some of the team carries out with the a glee not seen in a World War II set film since Inglorious Basterds (2009). Palmiotti and Gray don’t delve too deeply into political grandstanding though as they do in Freedom Fighters, mostly because the horror of Nazism and movements like it are self explanatory, but also because there isn’t much room in a three part story to get too deeply involved in  politically philosophical musings. They do a pretty good job of developing their characters though, even if, as a colleague here at The Bin rightfully remarks, they are a bit standard and somewhat shallow. Again, there isn’t too much that can be done in a three issue series. A film treatment of Time Bomb would definitely allow for some more development, if only in the nuances of the chosen actors’ performance.

Time Bomb is first and foremost a sequential art/graphic novel of very high quality though, so it’s definitely a travesty to allude to the fact that Palmiotti and Gray’s story would play out better on the big screen. Series artist, the venerable and veteran Paul Gulacy, does a wonderful job recreating World War II weapons and wardrobes. He also does a great job creating the futuristic setting of the Time Bomb experiment. His attention to detail is excellent, and he choreographs some great fight sequences. He also remains adept at assembling more quiet scenes that pulse with intrigue and tension. Overall, there’s nary a flaw in his artistic performance.

The more titles I read from Radical Publishing the more I become convinced that this is a special publisher. Yes, they have had their missteps (Incarnate anyone?) and are shameless about their movie deal aspirations, but the quality of the vast majority of their books is phenomenal. Intelligent and engaging original works and characters are often hard to come by from most major publishers. For the most part, these major publishers are restricted to killing off (but not really killing) their major heroes and bringing them back in order to produce something mildly original. The trick has worked for some heroes. The Death and Return of Superman is still one of the most original Superman stories (next to New Krypton and the brilliant Grounded), but for the most part the recent Batman “death and return” has all but fizzled instead of smolder. Radical Publishing’s titles do neither. They’re hot. Even more importantly they’re worth reading. Again, Time Bomb is no exception.

Rating: 10 /10

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