Friday, April 25, 2014

Not Really Off-Topic: In-Depth Review of TIME LINCOLN: CONTINENTAL One-Shot *Spoiler Alert*

It has been two years since I first picked up the graphic novel version of the original TIME LINCOLN mini-series from Antarctic Press. I have read it dozens of times since, and it remains one of my all-time favorite comic book story lines with Time Lincoln himself becoming one of my all-time favorite superheroes (see here: I was so upset that the book never led to an ongoing series, and I've long hoped that AP would put out more Time Lincoln comics in the future, last week they did and this week I got to read it.

And man was it good. Absurdist, strange, tongue-in-cheek but with a real message, I thought that this was up there with some of the best stories from the original series and perhaps outmatched them. In this book, we see the president-turned-time-god Time Lincoln going head-to-head with a mysterious void-powered time-god known only as 'the man'. Reputed to be as dangerous and evil as TL's first major villain, Void Stalin, this super villain has been sending void powered assassins through space and time taking out important historical figures. Time Lincoln has responded by essentially resurrecting the victims and turning against their killer. The book made some awesome references to the original series and the breadth of Time Lincoln's power remains something that holds you in awe. This book does something very creative by taking historical characters that already come to us as heroic and larger-than-life and making them, in fact, larger than life. It is like a creative representation of our own sense that behind human history are cosmic forces. Incarnating those forces, both good and evil, in historical figures is what made the original series work and it continues to work here.

But a new element is added to the thematic soup that so engrossed me with the graphic novel. One of the characters elevated in CONTINENTAL is Martin Luther King, Jr. King's strength of spirit and commitment to moral principles are galvanized by the power of the temporal dimension known as The Void. He is actually able to create an impenetrable force field and can turn violent hearts peaceful. The use of a passive resistance as a kind of holy weapon was so awesome to see poured out visually on paper and I loved the kind of deconstruction of the classic comic book motifs. There is still a 'shoot em up' aspect as Time Lincoln's own more direct and aggressive approach is also needed.

This created another layer here, because these were two men who were motivated by similar goals by chose very different methods. Lincoln was about as far from pacifism as you could get, though the man himself was never comfortable with the violent measures he felt history had pushed him into. Indeed, good probably needs both types of people on its side, as does God. There have to be people who are willing to stick to moral principles no matter what, and those who are willing to subvert some principles over others, in order for evil to be defeated. That there should be both tension and cooperation between the two characters is natural, and elevating them to the level of cosmic semi-divine beings both highlights these thematic elements and makes for great fun, and some humor.

This is simply everything I think Time Lincoln should be, and I hope for more like it in the future. I highly recommend buying the graphic novel first, though, or you may be a little lost.

Overall Rating: 5 Stars

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