Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Comic Review: 'Chronos Commandos: Dawn Patrol'

If you've been lamenting the lack of time traveling Nazi hunters and man-eating dinosaurs on your reading list recently—and let’s be honest, who hasn’t felt that way—I'm here with some news that will brighten up your day. Titan Comics has just unleashed Stuart Jennett’s Chronos Commandos: Dawn Patrol on the unsuspecting populace, and this collection is a straight injection of pure pulp awesomeness that starts off from page one and never relents.

A mishmash of genres, Chronos Commandos combines the classic aesthetics of old-school titles like Sgt. Rock and Turok: Dinosaur Hunter then throws them in a blender with a healthy dose of Inglorious Basterds, just in case you weren't already on board for this crazy ass ride. And the result is as appetizing as it sounds, full of non-stop madness and Nazi corpses littering the landscape of the Cretaceous period.

The story follows Sgt. Vale and his team—teams really, since the life expectancy in this unit isn't particularly expansive as everyone but the Sarge gradually drops out of the running, so to speak. Together they jump through time, battling those goose stepping bastards at every turn, trying to stay one move ahead and foil whatever mad scheme the Fuehrer has cooked up this time. And he has a couple of doozies up his sleeve that may or may not involve giant reptiles marching down Main Street USA. Aided by the Professor, who, though it is never explicitly stated, is without a doubt intended to be Albert Einstein, there is no way in hell that Vale is going to let that happen on his watch. Not as long as there’s a perfectly good cigar to chomp and a pot of coffee on the boil waiting for him when he gets home.

Chronos Commandos is a gooey gene jumping blast. Inherently absurd, with some questionable science, multiple dimensions, and timelines that don't always match up neatly at the edges, this is played totally straight with a pitch perfect tone that sells the whole thing. You can't help but giggle and cheer as the bad guys get what's coming to them in the form of rogue dinos, super crocs, or good old fashioned, cigar-chomping badassery.

The art is slick and sleek, which only makes a hungry velociraptor munching on Nazi entrails that much more vivid. The overall palate is largely full of blues and greens, punctuated with a sharp swath of red when necessary, and such a gory flourish is often necessary, or at least a more than welcome addition. While the illustrations are obviously clean and modern, they still hearken back to the early days, when books like these came on grainy newsprint at your corner store and had advertisements for x-ray specs and detective kits in the back.

This throwback is an open love letter to the pulpy, four-colored fare of an era that most of us didn't get to experience firsthand, but it is damn sure just as much fun now as it was then. Sure, the blood and guts have been cranked up a few notches for contemporary audiences hungry for such graphic violence, but the spirit remains the same. Collecting five individual issues, I devoured Chronos Commandos: Dawn Patrol in a single sitting, then immediately read it again, and I suspect most of you who pick up the book will do the same.

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