By Stuart Jennett
Although a classic pulp sensibility has been employed for many recent comic book series, this is more often the case for revived titles within the superhero genre. However, Stuart Jennett has masterminded a new series that is pulp through-and-through while avoiding the relatively over-used action-hero genre. Chronos Commandos consistently feels like a book from the classic age of pulp science fiction, in both story and character dialogue.
Project: Watchmaker is at the heart of the U.S. military’s time-war against the Nazis. The entire run of the Dawn Patrol arc has been following a group of soldiers as they make their way through massive Cretaceous jungles fighting off hordes of dinosaurs and other vicious creatures. This was such a fun concept in the first few issues. However, it is already beginning to feel a bit stale. That’s not to say issue #3 was bad, but the story could really use a change of pace. The plot hasn’t really progressed very much from the first issue until this point, and while each installment is fairly exciting in its own right, the series is starting to feel monotonous. There haven’t really been any issues resolved or a great deal of plot development up to this point. Admittedly, there were some interesting additions to Chronos Commandos #3, including the U.S. traitor coming back into the fold to save his own hide, and the realization of another traitor within the Commandos’ base. Aside from these additions, the story remains the same as it has for a few months now: soldiers run away from vicious beasts, one of them dies, they continue. Rinse and repeat. Yes, it’s full of action, but it is also becoming apparent that there isn’t as much substance to this tale as originally anticipated.
Aside from these issues with the plot development, the artwork throughout this book remains impeccable. Jennett is clearly a better visual artist than a story-teller at this point, as each issue remains crisp and vibrant throughout every panel. Each image contained in Chronos Commandos looks like a beautiful painting. Every aspect of the art looks amazing from the characters and creatures themselves to the backgrounds. The death scenes in the latest installment are particularly graphic and effective. Each time a soldier falls victim to one of the monstrous creatures the sense of anguish and pure horror is quite palpable. There are also a couple of splash-pages that look incredible, and the lighting effects employed throughout are perfect.
Although issue #3 has made the story feel somewhat monotonous, that doesn’t change the fact that it is still full of action and suspense. The artwork has quickly become some of my favorite in the medium, while the story retains a lot of potential. There are some strange things placed into Dawn Patrol #3, such as Peabody’s hallucination in which he sees the Sarge as Crash Jordan, apparently a pulp action-hero familiar to the character. There isn’t much else that describes what this single panel was really all about, but it hints at an interesting new aspect that may be covered in future issues.