I wasn’t around during World War II, but apparently dinosaurs were pretty damn integral to an Axis victory. Who knew? Titan Comics’s new release, Chronos Commandos, features dinos, Nazis, and loads of oft-eaten soldiers. These three components obviously mirror IDW’s Half Past Danger to a degree, but in my mind you can never have too many war books featuring rampaging thunder lizards.
Chronos Commandos is like a comic directed by Michael Bay; character development isn’t needed so long as there’s cool shit going on. To his credit, creator Stuart Jennett stuffs his debut with many exciting and entertaining moments, with all the subtlety of a hammer to the face. Commandos takes the standard WWII setting and injects it with a fun twist – what if both sides could travel back in time to alter the past in their favor? I’m not sure how traveling back to the Cretaceous period translates to victory in the 1940s, but that’s why I’m a writer and not a scientist. The book opens as our heroes, Sergeant Vale and his motor-mouthed crew, arrive in the past to track down a Nazi squad muddying up the time stream. What follows is an adrenaline fueled, dino filled romp through the jungle as the squad tries to stay alive long enough to complete their objective.
Jennett wastes no time setting the tone, the very first page a stark indicator of what’s to come. His portrayal of the unit is solid, if not underwhelming. The soldiers joke and brag with all the bluster you’d expect from manly men such as these, but none of them save for the grizzled Sergeant Vale are particularly memorable. By their banter we’re led to assume they’re a tight knit group, yet as the casualties mount there’s very little concern from the characters or the creator himself. Still, Jennett’s go-for-broke enthusiasm is apparent throughout, and as the circumstances grew nuttier I found myself enjoying the book even more.
And then, there’s the art. Great shades of Elvis, this book is pretty. Jennett’s painterly style is wonderful, each page and panel more eye catching than the last. His character work is great, but it’s his environments and set pieces that are the real draw. From the lush, overgrown foliage of the jungle, to the crackling aura of the time sphere, Chronos Commandos is a visual treat. I also appreciated the subtle touches throughout – the bombshell babe on the time sphere, beams of sunlight slicing through the mist, the humorous reveal of a much mentioned character. Of course, the best part of any book like this is the dinosaurs involved, and Jennett nails ’em. His lizards are awesome, plain and simple, and when the chomping begins you can practically see the steam emanating from the newly exposed viscera. Yum!
This book seems focused on delivering pure, unadulterated entertainment, and in that regard it succeeds. Jennet has concocted an extremely fun, wildly inventive yarn that at times forgoes development for spectacle. Whether one can live without the other remains to be seen, but by art alone this book has earned a second glance.