World War Two is notoriously difficult as a subject matter to adapt to the comic book world – while Captain America valiantly fights off the foes, he’s still largely rooted in reality, while comics such as Hellboy use the arcane interest prevalent in World War Two to template a modern day hero. However, there is the odd chance of creating something that is a pure guilty pleasure and full of inherent enjoyment. Chronos Commandos is one of those comics
Chronos Commandos, helmed by Stuart Jennett, changes the game plan of the Second World War entirely by injecting World War 2 with the scientific technology Hitler had long since been trying to properly implement – look at ‘Die Glocke’, for example, which was set to become the first spaceships – and infuses them into life, making it a war across time and space for the Axis powers and the Allies to fight across time and space to save the future of the human race. Yes, we know, but trust us – this is where it gets good.
The story itself is a perfectly pitched mix of old nostalgia, modern sensibilities, and the wild-eyed imaginative brush-strokes that seem like a rather imaginative – if gruesome-minded – child had sculpted this vision one day while watching Saturday morning cartoons. The plot involves several groups of both Allies and Axis powers battling through the jungles of prehistoric time, battling against natural predators – i.e. dinosaurs – and their enemies, and while it takes a little suspension of belief, it proves to be a fun, crazy journey to go on.
The panels are gorgeous and evoke cinematic visions at their finest, if cheesiest – the big broad swathes of dinosaurs munching on hapless Marines paint big broad spectacle against the action movie characterisation. Admittedly very few of the background soldiers outside of Sarge get any major ‘screentime’ as it were, but it fits in with the fast-paced, adrenaline-fuelled feel of the B-list bonkers action movies it is trying so fervently to emulate. Sarge himself is a paragon of the Dolph Lundgren stock, all abrasive efficiency and wit alongside a muscular physique that’d put Arnie to shame.
Best of all is the Professor, also known as ‘Doc’, who is a literal adaptation of Alfred Einstein and placing him in the explosive world of time-travelling World War 2 escapades. Seeing the Professor armed with a gun and killing Nazi spies is a surreal image and yet for all the time-bending mechanics and loaded explanations of exposition that the Professor is forced to deliver to the grunts, he feels organic and beloved instantly – an iconic figure turned into an action hero without losing any of his incredible intelligence.
Chronos Commandos probably won’t win over everybody – Nazis battling dinosaurs and the Allied soldiers while Not Einstein kills baddies with a machine gun is never going to be universally accepted due to the wildly melodramatic material – but in a world teeming with superheroes, gods, and overly dark cynical views, sometimes it’s just plain fun to see something as irreverently fun as Chronos Commandos. Writer, artist, and creator Stuart Jennett is clearly having an absolute ball with this series and chances are you’ll find something to like here. It’s the B-movie, appropriately, of comics – it might not be the smartest or most popular, but it’s rooted with a good heart and a huge sense of fun, something we can all appreciate.