Dinosaurs! Nazis! Time-travellers! War stories!
Chronos Commandos is writer and illustrator Stuart Jennett’s love letter to boys’ adventure stories of the 70s and 80s. Heavily influenced by Battle and Action comics, 2000AD‘s Flesh, war films, and maybe even some Predator, the collection is obvious, occasionally heavy-handed, and all the better for it. If you fondly remember any of those influences this will tick the boxes and leave you with a grin on your face.
Having worked as an artist for Marvel UK and 2000AD some years back, Jennett moved into the world of game design. However, he recently returned to his first love and now juggles both. Chronos is his first script, originally published as five individual issues in 2013.
The story sees a time-travelling commando unit head back 65 million years to the age of the dinosaurs, on the trail of Nazis. But this is no cautionary tale about the consequences of time travel, but simply background for an adventure story with bad guys and dinosaurs at every turn. Indeed, Jennett throws in a knowing nod to Ray Bradbury’s A Sound of Thunder and the so-called Butterfly Effect, which suggests that the death of just one butterfly could cause reverberations throughout time, clearly suggesting he’s thought through his version of the time-travelling paradox. Likewise, his characters and dialogue feel authentic, developed and well-rounded.
The digital painting tends to be on the heavy side and occasionally looked rushed: among some fantastic dinosaur and jungle illustrations, the human characters often look static in the gore spattered rainforests.
As enjoyable as Chronos Commandos is, it’s not perfect, however. It’s too long, and the pacing doesn’t always allow the right balance between action and exposition. And as good as Jennett’s art is, it works far better in the splash pages – any more than five or six panels on the page and those panels become simplistic and heavy with word balloons.
There’s a nice amount of supplementary material, including sketches and character design, although being picky it would have been nice to have the original series covers full size rather than crammed onto one page.