This week, with their new kickstarter only just round the corner, we check out the first 4 issues of David S Crispino and Tony Gregori’s time travelling adventure comic, Ancient Noise. Can this comic, which sees a team of time traveller’s cause all sorts of mayhem when a mission goes very wrong, bag itself another successful campaign, or has this story simply run out of time?
Publisher: David S Crispino
Writer: David Crispino
Artist: Tony Gregori (art), Jasen Smith/Claudia Aguirre (Colors), Nic Shaw/Lauren Norby (Letters)
Price: Issue #1 currently available on ComiXology
In the near future, time travel has been perfected, but the corporations in charge of it don’t intend to use the technology to learn from it, they intend to profit from it. Brock, Deacon, Reese, Camille and Jack are the crew of the 101, their employers’ proprietary time ship. With their lives protected by a unique form of resurrection, these five are not explorers but seeders, planting natural resources in the past for the world to utilise in their present. However, when a routine mission has them attacked a group of primitive but ferocious apes, madness ensues as the crew is separated, team members lose their minds and one ape develops unique abilities when traversing the timeline, along with a sinister motive.
With Ancient Noise, David Crispino has created a fun and wacky time travel story with some unique concepts and subversive characters. Crispino has done away with the standard time travel trope of exploring new worlds, and instead we see a group of people making a quick buck by planting resources to use in the future. Meanwhile, the characters are not scientists but blue collar workers, hired to follow a rule book, and so exhibit a rather dysfunctional and slightly dark humour to cope with the situation they find themselves in.
While Ancient Noise is a lot of fun, it also struggles in a number of areas that cause problems with the pacing. The key problem comes in the science and it’s explanation to readers. While many of the mind blowing ideas Crispino has dreamed up for his characters are pretty unique, it isn’t really made clear how they work, which takes the reader out of the story at key moments. One example is the ‘resurrection’ technology Brock and the team employ to travel through time. While this is a great way to work in dangerous scenarios, it doesn’t really break down how this is possible and so you lose the impact of the moment by trying to figure out what is going on.
Speaking of the characters, almost all are rather generic, save for Jack and antagonist Silver (due to the main focus being on them), which doesn’t help create empathy or shock, especially during a later ‘shock’ twist.
Visually it looks great, with artist, Tony Gregori offering up some equally wacky, yet fun artwork. The series has a style that is similar in parts to Michael Walsh’s on X-Men: Worst X-Man Ever and even Art Balthazar’s work on Itty Bitty Hellboy. This kind of style works well for the series as it really imbues that fun, adventure vibe that Ancient Noise seemed to start with. It also works well for Gregori in a number of full/double page splash scenes where the art depicting the travel and aspect of messing with time really excels and jumps out at readers as a major highlight.
However, like the story, the art struggles from an inconsistency, especially in its colouring (possibly due to two separate colorists between issues). This gives Ancient Noise two very different tones as it goes from fun adventure to creepy horror and back again – which may of course be intentional as it does come at an opportune time towards the end with the previously mentioned twist – however on first impressions it doesn’t quite feel right.
Ancient Noise is a comic with some great ideas and fun art, that lacks a certain depth and coherence for it to make total sense to all readers. While the humour and ‘absurdity’ behind the series make it very entertaining, for anyone looking for something more serious, complex of deep, then they might feel a bit lost in the timeline.