Cover to ‘Time Corps’ #14. Art: Neal Yamamoto, Josephine Roberts/Wunderman Comics

by Arpad Okay. Stepping into the timestream, remember to watch out for hot lava. Make sure the agents plucked from across the ages are all on your side. Install a couple of competent managers in operations or kiss your ass goodbye. If a bored little kid from the future shows up with technology that blows up your dopamine centers and your laboratory, maybe don’t trust her. Situation normal for Wunderman Comics’ Time Corps.

The series is nothing if not ambitious in its appetite. The bureaucracy (re: red tape) of a secret organization staffed mostly by historical figures is even more formidable than time travel, and Hannibal Tabu really brings the Larry Sanders Show humor (and drama) to Time Corps’ forefront. The force trying to undo the whole of time is a surreal and equally unlikely counterpoint to Tabu’s office pool of encyclopedia entries, but the chaos they sew is exactly what you’re dreaming of, as bonkers as the wildest science fiction out there. Some real Mars Attacks trading cards, gratuitous yet blackly humorous, semi-traumatic ways to manipulate space-time kill people.

But instead of being stuffed, Time Corps is spare. The action and the infighting come at a measured pace. The book feels old, new, distinctly outside the mainstream, comfortably familiar. Tabu knows what makes comics work, and knows how to bend history for the benefit of story. The story is impossible. But the people come through, their struggle with power is real. There’s just also a giant spider and centurion wearing a baseball cap. Spoiler alert, there’s no feeling quite like getting slapped in the face by the donut of space time.

Time Corps is gleefully weird. “Do y’all not have horror movies” is the line I have been waiting a decade to read in a comic, see in a movie, finally just have someone say out loud when things are obviously on the cusp of going pear-shaped.

Neal Yamamoto’s art is marked by lively, powerful expressions and body language. The child Malcontent stands at the top of it, charming and unbothered, finger guns, running circles around the competition and allies both. There is an effort to make everyone on the page real, to communicate inner life as well as their actions on the page, and it succeeds. But I’m on team M and I’m aware that’s probably dangerous for the universe but she’s got exactly what I want in a villain.

Yamamoto’s approach is very traditional, pencils and inks, crosshatch textures, gestures and objects, all born from the line. Professional, familiar but not standard. Time Corps goes in for retro instead of slick, a hand drawing of faces and personal moments. Time Corps could be ripped from the pages of 2000 AD in our alternate past, but for the color work of Josephine Roberts.

Roberts is the final piece to have the team working hand in glove. The background drops out for a moment where Prunella Jones and Falling Star share a look of skepticism, a gentle fade of red pushing up from behind them. Sometimes Roberts and Yamamoto are fighting for space on the page, but Time Corps art is handled in a thoughtful way, strong ideas finding artful execution.

I regret to pop culture pigeonhole this book so hard by saying Brooklyn 99 meets Bill & Ted but the Time Corps crew have a comic that’s half police procedural sitcom and half pulp fiction time travel stories. Before the comics code, melting-bodies pulp fiction. Witty-women-as-apex-predator sitcom humor. You could walk into this series blind and by the time you’re done with the issue, you’ll want the next one. The next one will be even more fun.

Wunderman Comics / $1.99

Written by Hannibal Tabu.

Illustrated by Neal Yamamoto.

Colored by Josephine Roberts.

Lettered by Josephine Roberts.

Edited by Nate Wunderman.

6.5 out of 10

The latest issue of ‘Time Corps’ is available now on ComiXology.

Check out this 3-page preview of ‘Time Corps’ #14, courtesy of Wunderman Comics!