Writing - 8/10
Art - 7/10
Overall - 7/10
User Review( votes)
The Argus #1
Writer: Mark Bertolini
Artist: Darryl Knickrehm
Letters: not credited
Publisher: Action Lab Danger Zone
Maturity Rating: Mature
Release Date: March 4th, 2020
Randall Patton? We’re Randall Patton, too. We need your help.
Meet Your Future Self in The Argus #1
A guest review by Tim Gulics
The Argus #1 poses this curious potentiality about time-travel: What would you do if you met another version of yourself? Or six different versions? Sixteen? In most stories, this would result in a chaotic deconstruction of the time stream. But for the team at The Argus, it’s just standard operating procedure.
Time-travel is perhaps one of my favorite story “hooks.” It ranks up there with alternate takes on history and crossover events, and it never fails to pique my interest. Franchises that are built on the concept, like Back to the Future, or those who simply work it into a much larger story, a la Star Trek, have helped form a kind of written ruleset on what is and isn’t possible for time travel—that is, if we were ever actually able to achieve what’s thought impossible. The Argus #1 doesn’t much abide by those rules.
The writing by Mark Bertolini has its ups and downs here, but the story looks to be moving in a largely positive, entertaining direction. From page one, Bertolini quickly introduces us to our main protagonists—Randall Patton. Yes, they’re all Randall, the same Randall. Seven different Randalls from throughout the course of his life. The youngest Randall—Randall Prime, perhaps—is in danger. And his various incarnations have come back to save him and the entire timestream.
The story kicks off at a quick pace as Bertolini drops a lot of exposition in a short amount of time, all to bring Randall Prime and the reader up to speed on events. He introduces us to is a relatively unique take on the concept of “time police” and who would comprise such a force to ensure ethical use of the technology.
If I were to find fault with the writing, I’d say that comes in two forms. One, the possible scientific theories behind actual time-travel, or a multiverse at the least, seem to go unmentioned; the entire process is generally glossed over in favor of moving the story ahead. This isn’t unusual in stories like this, and “don’t think too much about it” is a hand-waving explanation often employed. Still, a little more technobabble aside from “this device on your wrist allows you to time travel” would have been compelling. One key question about righting what’s gone wrong in the timestream is put out there, but it’s also quickly quashed with another hand-wave. I’m really hoping time-travel remains a solution to a problem, a la Avengers: Endgame, and not simply a secondary or even tertiary element of the story.
Two, since the protagonists are all effectively the same person, we’re not seeing much of a “team dynamic” and the complementary and conflicting personalities therein. One version of Randall (resembling another grizzled time-traveler, Marvel’s Cable, ironically enough) takes the lead and is primarily the one responsible for pushing us along through the plot. The others, so far, simply seem to be “bald Randall” and “old Randall” and so on. So I’m hoping we get more differentiation between them, as much as is possible, in future issues. Bringing non-Randalls along for the ride wouldn’t go amiss either.
I have good things and bad things to say about the artwork here by Darryl Knickrehm. The linework is clean, shading is well-done, and characters have distinguishable designs. He illustrates environments and objects well; panels change perspective and remain fairly visually interesting throughout. Occasionally, with certain perspectives, character proportions may seem a little “off” but it is nothing unforgivable.
My real complaint here is the coloring. Colors are minimal and desaturated across all pages. Everything is drab and there’s very little that “pops” at any point. This instantly makes any page appear dull, often yellowy or gray, and it’s unfortunate. For visual storytelling, this approach easily becomes boring. There’s enough color separation to make everything identifiable, thankfully.
The lettering is entirely sufficient. No panel is particularly clogged with dialogue; it allows characters necessary breathing room.
The Argus #1 isn’t ground-breaking or wholly captivating, but it is interesting enough to hook me for now. If I weren’t such a time-travel aficionado I might have not been on board for future issues; the art and other story elements, so far, are simply not too great a draw on their own. Let’s say I’m cautiously optimistic about the future. And yes, that was a bit of a time-travel pun.
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