The Man Who F#€%ed Up Time is a classic time travel tale, much in the vein of Booster Gold or Marty McFly. But it uses the opportunity to explore some deep issues of identity and self worth.
The issue begins with an imposter who looks exactly like lab assistant Sean Bennett stopping the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. While the real Sean is chased by the Future Police for time tampering, the true guilty parties are borrowing his identity to create chaos. After Sean arrives to undo this by killing Lincoln himself we flashback to the beginning of the time machine.
Sean travels back to stop Professor Kendricks, Stooch and Cooke from initiating the time travel, discovers they have image projectors which allow them to look like Sean. They admit that they wanted to mess with time using his appearance and Cooke did this to take the actual inventor of the time machine, Sean himself, down a peg.
Sean realizes his own abilities and that he has always been a genius rather than the lowly lab assistant he thought he was. The Future Police take chance but all the science team then uses the image projectors to scatter across time. Finally Sean travels to the future disguised as a Future Police and stops the creation of the Police.
Sean then returns to destroy the time machine and live happily, with the final page revealing that the time hijinks have resulted in some massive changes including dinosaurs, pyramids, blimps and castles in modern times.
As with Sean himself, there is a lot more going on with this comic than at first appears. Here the Police are mindlessly chasing an innocent man. Sean’s plight is one of false flag attacks perpetuated by jealous superiors who are not at all actually superior. Sean’s journey is one of self-identity as he must learn to trust his own knowledge and abilities even as those around him try to steal his ideas and identity while trying to convince him he is simply their assistant.
The idea of identity theft and theft of data reflect deep seated fears in our modern time. It also can’t be lost that the hero is black while those trying to frame him, steal from him and suppress him to a lower position are not. This is a book about finding self-worth in a world designed to convince you that you are a worthless criminal.
Sean is only able to gain back his self by believing in his own innocence, knowledge and abilities even when every authority figure around him attempts to convince him of his own criminality and incompetence. Using tropes of time travel so familiar to us, Layman and Mostart create an epic tale about identity, race, oppression and self-worth.
Writing: 4.6 of 5 stars
Art: 4.4 of 5 stars
Colors: 4.6 of 5 stars
Overall: 4.5 of 5 stars
Writer: John Layman
Art: Kyle Mostert
Colors: Dee Cunniffe and Mark Dale
Publisher: Aftershock Comics