Is there anything in the past that is so important to change that you would go back there, even if it means that you are stranded there? Time travel stories always center around regrets and our personal failures because that what make the concept so fascinating. To get the chance to change something in the hopes of making your life or the lives of those around you better, if it were possible, some people would risk the world to change it. Others would risk everything to keep it the way it is.
And that struggle of maybe improving the world or dealing with the world as it is lies at the heart of Charge a graphic novel written by brothers Dan and Chris Jury.
Set is a secret 1975 remote research facility in the mountains, disguised as an old hotel, scientists think that they are working on a discovering a new energy source. The corporation funding their research thinks they are at a dead end and has sent out a hatchet man to close down the shop. Before he gets chance to shut everything down, the few remaining scientists start a final run on their research equipment.
It turns out that they didn’t discover an energy source, they set up the furthest node in a time travel loop. A team of mercenaries from the distant future, 2017, appear in the facility and explain that they can send people back in time as far as the time machine equipment exists. This research base is where the machine was first built and the mercs have come back to change the future.
In the future, corporations have replaced governments in running the world and two of them have access to the time machines. They keep sending teams back in time to ensure that they will be the winning corporation, owning everything. Repeated flash forwards to a single moment in 2017 show the effect of this time war as the moment gets replayed differently each time as one or the other corporation sends another team to the past to make changes.
A second team from further in the future arrives to secure the base for the rival corporation and a battle breaks out in this remote research center to secure their correct timeline.
The story is fast-paced and compelling, but leaves room for characters from all three groups, the 1970s scientists, the mercenaries from 2017 and the future mercenaries, all to develop. The good thing about the one way time travel mechanics is that it simplifies the story and allows it to move forward with a minimum of headache inducing paradoxes.
There are a lot of influences that the Jury brothers are drawing on and Stephen King is a strong one. The remote and snowy abandoned hotel clearly echos The Shining. Although in a twist, here the ghosts are from the different possible futures and not the past. The scientists are now haunted that each decision they make will directly make the world a better or worse place. These guys could use a ghostly bartender.
There are also references to Watership Down worked in visually as the rabbits try to escape the hotel grounds.
The art is interesting. Adhitya Zulkaraen’s pencil and ink works remains strangely static for such a dynamic story. Even though there is a full battle raging, every character is stiff. Despite the stiffness of the bodies, the faces are all fully dynamic showing ranges of emotions. You can see the exact second where some of the characters get clued in to what is going on around them.
I really enjoyed this as a graphic novel. I’m not sure if some of the minor issues I had in terms of the plot points or the bigger ones with the art would have been better or worse reading this as a monthly, but the whole does work well together.
Writers: Dan Jury & Chris Jury
Art: Adhitya Zulkaraen
Colors: Pamels Siega
Publisher: Alterna Comics