Well, here we are again. I didn’t think I’d be stepping back into book reviews, especially before I filmed the Season 6 finale of my Cartoon Hero series. I assure you that it is still coming, but I can’t film it currently due to the lack of a prop I need. So blame the wait on the postal service.
That being said, maybe it’s for the best that I have some free time. I’m finally watching Batman: The Animated Series, but more importantly, another reviewer reminded me of something I wanted to talk about for a while. Linkara’s most recent review at the time of writing this was of the comic Steam Wars by Fred Perry. I’m familiar with Perry’s work, especially his animations, but until recently, I’d never read a comic by him. However, in 2012, the year I graduated college, I went to my very first anime convention, A-Kon 23. It was there that a certain Fred Perry comic caught my eye–a comic that would prove to be so awesome that I singlehandedly started the TVTropes page for it, because I felt more people needed to know about it. And since one of the works of Fred Perry is still fresh in our minds, I believe now would be a good time to go back to it again and tell you why. This is Time Lincoln.
First of all, though, one caveat–that cover image you see up above this text is kind of a lie. Or rather, it was done by a different artist, Brian Denham, in a style a lot more detailed than Perry’s, which is more cartoony. It’s hard to convey in a text review, but if you’ve seen any of Perry’s work, you know what you’re in for. It’s not bad, just a different style than what the cover promises.
What we do get, however, is a story just as amazing as Abraham Lincoln traveling through time could promise us, and more. Perry seems to love steampunk, or at least wholeheartedly embraced it, and this book is all about that. It opens on Joseph Stalin aiming a steampunk pistol at the back of Abe Lincoln’s head in Ford’s Theater, as everyone else is frozen in time. Before you think “God, this comic is short–and in poor taste,” Stalin does what every mad evil genius does and starts monologuing. Because hey, you have a captive audience, so what else can you do? He exposits that thanks to he and his cohorts breaking into Rasputin’s secret lab, he discovered the secrets of the Void, a mystic force that exists on the boundaries of our reality that allows the people who control it to travel through time. Through this, he was transformed into Void Stalin, but in the process of telling the frozen Lincoln this, he makes two fatal mistakes–he lets Lincoln see into his eyes, allowing him to see the Void, and he keeps him long enough for a league of other historical time travelers to show up. They are Ben Franklin, Isaac Newton, Albert Einstein, and George Washington Carver, all sporting time travel abilities and mystical tools of their own, including freeze rays and force fields. Apparently, Lincoln would grow to become Void Stalin’s greatest foe, traveling through time and beating him at every turn as the hero Time Lincoln. And unfortunately, by letting him see the Void, Stalin gave him the ability to travel through time in the first place. Whoops. And if you think that’s a time paradox, Time Lincoln is ultimately who pulls his younger self into the Void by causing a time paradox when the two touch each other, effectively trading places with him. And that’s not even getting into the ending.
The four manage to fight Stalin off for now, and recruit Lincoln to be their newest member–but Stalin is not alone. With the aid of Mao Tse-tung, a demonic version of Hitler called Mephitler, and Fidel Castro, he plans to conquer all of time and space. But of course, our heroes follow him through the Void to face him at every turn. And really, that’s what the crux of this book is–Abe Lincoln and other historical figures travel through time to fight dictators who are trying to change history in their favor. But honestly–that’s all it needs.
Oh sure, there are a few more serious scenes–there is one bit where Albert Einstein ponders if creating the atomic bomb was worth it, since it led to the creation of the bad guys’ ultimate weapon, and it’s surprisingly somber. But really, you read this comic for the same reason you read something like Abe Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (which is also surprisingly serious, but that’s getting off topic)–to see awesome historical figures doing awesome things. And in that respect, it delivers. The action sequences are all great, with creative fighting using the portals and gadgets associated with the historical figures, and even a REALLY memorable dogfight near the end, where Mao Tse-tung’s army of super-powered up steampunk planes try to shoot down Air Force One with President Obama in it, which they counter with an army of planes led by Amelia freaking Earhart! And that’s not even getting into the historical cameos which happen near the end of the book, which I won’t spoil for you–but let’s just say it plays off the fact that everyone makes jokes about the connections between Abe Lincoln and JFK.
However, much as I laud praise upon this book, it’s not perfect–and that’s mostly down to one aspect. Being a story about time travel, the story direction jumps around quite a bit, which can get a bit confusing. It might take you more than one read to understand the order of what happens, as it did for me.
But really, it’s worth doing so. Time Lincoln is one of the most unapologetically awesome stories I’ve ever read, it uses its characters well, and if the title sounds awesome to you, then trust me, it will be. Whatever you think of Fred Perry’s other work, I’ll say that he did a fantastic job with this. A definite must-read for the geek in all of us.
Oh, and also, there’s a second series out now called Jack To The Future. If you’ll excuse me, I’m going to beat a path to the nearest store that sells it, since I didn’t know about it until researching for this review.