'Comeback' starts like a crime tale, with shady guys throwing punches and kidnapping a man who doesn't want to go quietly. Then, with a 'VRRRMMMM' and a bright light, the sci-fi series becomes something else.
1:23PM EST November 20. 2012 - Comeback starts like a rip-snortin' crime tale, with shady guys throwing punches and kidnapping a man who doesn't want to go quietly.
Then, with a "VRRRMMMM" and a bright light, it becomes something else altogether.
Written by Ed Brisson and illustrated by Michael Walsh, Comeback (debuting Wednesday) is a five-issue sci-fi miniseries from Image Comics of an illegal time-travel operation called Reconnect that reunites families with deceased love ones — for an absolute boatload of cash.
When a husband hires the company to save his wife, Kelly, from a fatal car crash, agents Mark and Seth go back in time to do the job but end up trapped hen the mission goes awry, sending them on the lam from the FBI as well as Reconnect itself.
The concept of time travel is something Brisson has loved since growing up with Terry Gilliam's Time Bandits. "I think I made my parents rent that film something like 200 times as a kid. I'm not sure why they didn't buckle and just buy it for me," he says.
While he hasn't been a fan of recent time-travel comics, books and movies, the films Source Code and Primer sparked his interest again and, with him also digging the crime genre, Brisson says he "wanted to see if there was a way to put these two things together like peanut butter and chocolate."
However, he wanted time travel to be a "lo-fi" aspect of Comeback and take a back seat in the DeLorean to other elements.
"It really started as me trying to explore how a criminal enterprise could exploit such a low-rent version of time travel," Brisson explains. "In a way, Reconnect are almost kidnappers — only they're not stealing anyone, they just bring them back for a lot of money.
"I liked that it was a service, rather than straight-up extortion. They could do this and really believe that they were doing good, even if it's in the darker half of the gray area."
And he became really excited when he started pondering where these people go who were taken out of time.
"If time travel is illegal, you can't bring someone back from the past and just carry on as you were," Brisson says. "In Comeback, people have to go and live a witness protection-style life once reunited — new home, new life and no connections to their past. Giving up your past in order to preserve part of it."
There's personal drama afoot, as well. On his new mission, Mark is going to "get his system of beliefs shook pretty hard," Brisson says, while Kelly is not the "damsel in distress" that she seems to be.
Plus, Seth is also at the center of the story since, at least in his mind, he is a short-timer at Reconnect and wants to move on from the company because of what it's doing to him emotionally and physically.
"It's not just that he wants out of the organization, it's that he suspects that there's more going on than he and Mark are being told," Brisson says. "It's his digging and suspicion that puts into motion many of the events of Comeback.
"How changes to the past affect the future plays heavily into Comeback. Consequences drive this story."
Brisson, a letterer on the Image series Prophet and Peter Panzerfaust, and Walsh have instilled a definite sense of noir both in story and design. The writer, who does a series of short crime comics called Murder Book, loves that kind of dark and gritty look, as does Walsh, especially when it can define objects and figures just by shadow.
"I try to incorporate this into Comeback as much as possible to really create an atmospheric experience for the reader," Walsh says. "It helps to ground the comic and immerse the reader into the story.
"Also, there is a nice juxtaposition between the heavy, inky blacks and the eye-popping color from Jordie Bellaire, and it gives the comic a unique look," adds the artist, who begins a dark fairy-tale webcomic King Warlock and the Blue Bird with Bellaire on his website in December.
In creating something original with Comeback, Brisson and Walsh strived to avoid established time-travel tropes throughout the book.
When designing technology, Walsh made sure it had a "1970s cobbled-together-in-the-garage sci-fi look" than something glossy and shiny. And Brisson intentionally didn't pull from any sci-fi shows or movies — if anything, he wanted to create something counter to many of them.
That's why the furthest Reconnect agents can go back in time is 67 days. "In the book, it's just the ceiling that science has hit," Brisson says.
"I wanted to come up with something where you have this fantastical thing made real, yet it's severely limited. There's no going back and wrestling dinosaurs, killing Hitler or discovering the true identity of Jack the Ripper."