It's 2012 and a construction project in Berlin, Germany, has uncovered a long-lost, hidden Nazi fortress located half a kilometer below the city's streets. A mysterious extra-governmental agency known as the New World Order investigates, and in the process sets off a missile that has been waiting down there for more than 60 years. The missile goes up, up, up into the air, then explodes above the city, releasing a powerful and deadly new bio-weapon that quickly kills everyone in the area and immediately starts to spread, faster than any disease known to man. The New World Order calculates that it will soon reach the entire planet, killing everyone in less than a week.
How do they decide to stop it and save the human race? Simple: by sending a team of operatives back in time a few years to tell Berlin officials not to dig in that area in the first place. But time travel is an inexact science and the team soon finds itself in 1945 Germany, at the tail end of World War II, behind enemy lines, with a chance to stop the missile before it even completed.
Yes, it's an improbable plot, but that doesn't stop authors Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray and artist Paul Gulacy from turning it into a nonstop thrill ride of a graphic novel. Time Bomb is like a science-fiction action movie between paper covers. After just a few pages of setup, the story kicks into high gear and never lets up. There's gunplay, plot twists, sex, sweat, death, torture, James Bond-type gadgets, heroic sacrifices, explosions, quirky characters, a mad-scientist villain (complete with goatee and facial scar), and plenty of dead Nazis.
Palmiotti and Gray have created a pretty good team of characters to fill the book. They're dangerous killers, but with enough personality to make them good heroes (or at least heroic enough in the face of their dangerous mission). Although the major plot twist/secret reveal two-thirds of the way through the book is obvious from the first chapter, there are enough other twists and turns in the story to keep readers off their toes.
And of course, if you're going to tell a comics story full of tough guys, sexy women, guns, explosions, and Nazis, there's no better artist to turn to than Paul Gulacy. He set the tone for series like this in the 1970s with Master of Kung-Fu, and he's gotten better at it every year since. Gulacy's one weakness as an artist is in depicting emotion: His characters' expressions rarely vary from their tight-lipped stony coldness. There are a few scenes in this book that might have elicited more empathy for the characters if they had shown the slightest bit of pain, interest, fear, or even pleasure, but on the other hand, this isn't the type of story that relies upon those types of moments. It's full speed ahead, and damn the consequences.
Time Bomb is pulpy fun. Ultimately, it doesn't make a lick of sense, but what science-fiction action movie does? It's an adventure --- a good, solid, done-in-one read that entertains. If that's what you're in the mood for, then look no further.
Reviewed by John R. Platt on March 22, 2011
- Publication Date: March 22, 2011
- Genres: Graphic Novel
- Paperback: 168 pages
- Publisher: Radical Publishing
- ISBN-10: 1935417401
- ISBN-13: 9781935417408