Comics Features

REVIEW: Out of Time

Written by Mark Russell

The best way to describe Out of Time is what if Doctor Who met A Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy with an extra sprinkle of wackiness. Written by Luke James Halsall (writer of DC Thomson’s Johnny Jett iHero, and The Mind Palace), and drawn by Cuttlefish (artist of DC Thomson’s The Smasher and Giga), Out of Time offers a unique and quirky time travel sci-fi adventure with laughs all the way through.

The comic tells the story of a company designed to relocate people – not to new homes but to different time periods. The unnamed company with some very weird employees (titled “Sliders”), can relocate people to the past or future to help them feel more comfortable in the world and less out of place. The one rule is that the time-travelling immigrants cannot alter the past or future for it could make cataclysmic changes to history and because wibbly wobbly timey wimey is in effect. As our main character Redmond says, “You can make ripples in history, but only microscopic ones.”

Anyway, our protagonist is a senior Slider in the business named Redmond, a forty-something man suffering from depression at work, wishing his life could be something better (which is amusing considering he can time travel). After doing another job which involves time travelling on an old couch, he is introduced to new employee Lizzie Taylor, a young girl who is more interested in getting a break via reality TV than time travelling. Lizzie is introduced to NC-1000/Nigel, an employee who has done so many jumps across time that he now thinks he is a robot and addresses Redmond in a robotic dialect. There is also a talking dog named Annette who is actually a genderless shapeshifting alien. Together, their job is to make sure history remains in tact and the correct order of events.

However, it isn’t as glamorous or awesome as it sounds. Redmond is completely fed up with the whole thing and takes a very bored look on it all. The story then deals with Redmond explaining the basis of time travel, though all we learn is that Bill and Ted offered some inspiration for the process. The four companions then hop onto the couch and travel to the future to check on some immigrants including a cat named Clive (implied to be former ruler of humanity, because cats have always ruled us…apparently). However, they find the future has been altered where flowers are enemies of mankind and black holes can be utilised to avoid the after effects of getting drunk or stoned. Redmond is determined to find whoever is responsible, mainly so he can fix the timeline, get things done, and avoid more stress.

Let’s get through a minor problems of the comic – sometimes the positioning of the speech bubbles can be confusing as to who is talking, and some dialogue from NC-1000 is a little hard to read (though that may be intentional considering how confused the character is). Apart from that, the comic is great fun and an amusing read. The art style is very unique and eye-catching, and during my first read, I got the wrong impression and assumed all of he characters save Annette were robots due to the character style.

The character are very funny, particularly how they all have their own different but conflicting personalities – Redmond is fed up with life and stressed out from time travel, Lizzie is somewhat of a naïve optimist with plenty of curiosity, NC-1000 is a scatterbrained guy who doesn’t know if he’s a human or robot, and Annette takes everything personally and has to teleport itself to another planet just to relax. Redmond probably stands out the most. He is kind of like The Doctor if he was more grounded and stuck in an office for a million years. He also work for a short, moustached man named Mr. Jones who has a huge tie, who Redmond does not seem to care for.

The humour got a number of laughs and giggles out of me, and I love some of the details in the panels such as the newspaper that Redmond reads which seems to have been written by robots or at least specifically for NC-1000, who in turn is seen trying to maintenance his own body with a screwdriver despite being human. The scenes in the future are very imaginative and bizarre, with the colour palette changing to befit the time period or mood of the comic. The comic has some traits of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and I enjoy Redmond’s lack of awe or enthusiasm out of anything compared to Lizzie’s oohs and awws all the way through. The comic takes a surprisingly dark turn in the final pages and then jumps right back to the comedy, but transition does not feel clunky.

In conclusion, Out of Time is very entertaining and definitely worth a read. The comic will be published at Glascow Comic Con 2014 in July by OR Comics.

Are you a fan of time travel stories? Where would you go to if given the chance? Sound off in the comments or send us your thoughts on Twitter!

About the author

Mark Russell