Black Tie and…Helmet? (Albert Einstein: Time Mason #2 “Gate Crashers” Comic Review)

Art and Letters by Tony Donley
Script by Marcus Perry
Edited by Kris Simon
Cover by Jeff Johnson
Variant Cover by Tony Donley

Good old Al is back, hot on the trail of the time-hopping criminal who tried—and failed—to steal our hero’s own brain in issue #1. Will the professor manage to catch up to his nemesis, or will events in his own timeline put him just one step behind?

In This Issue: The culprit has traveled to Turkey in the 8th century, the time of Alexander the Great, in an attempt to waylay a platoon of Greek soldiers conveying a chest of precious cargo to somewhere beyond the Caspian Gates. We discover that the villain was sent by the Third Reich, and he makes quick work of the Greeks before making off with a large orange orb which was previously locked safely in an enormous chest.

Meanwhile, in 1937, Albert Einstein is late for a gala benefiting the physics department at Princeton University and the Dean, Albert’s boss, is none too pleased. He’s even less pleased when Albert’s specialized pocket watch begins bleeping seconds into his speech and the esteemed professor takes off in a hurry, leaving the Dean to deal with a crowd of physics enthusiasts and no star speaker. Albert, meanwhile, high-tails it to his secret office-within-his-office to get the pertinent information on the alert he received. The tachyon disturbance in 8th century Turkey was caused by someone accessing a temporal junction point using something with the same tachyon signal as Albert’s pocket watch. The Time Mason’s watches are carved from Century Stones and tailored to each Time Mason’s individual physiology, so this replicated signature is surprising to say the least. Albert takes his intel and races for the door, only to be confronted by his assistant, Helen Dukas, who informs him that she knows he’s up to something, and it won’t be long before other people notice.

Having ousted Helen from his office and made the jump through time, Albert finds himself in the midst of the carnage left behind by the Third-Reich thief—a host of bodies mowed down by machine gun fire in an era far before that particular invention was commonplace. He discovers the source of the tachyon signature, or at least a shred of it, left in the chest in which it had been stored, but before he can do anything more than shove it in a pocket, he is thrown into battle with none other than Alexander the Great himself! How is our dear professor going to get out of this one?

My Two Cents: The second issue of this series doesn’t disappoint! Everything I enjoyed about the first issue—the snappy dialogue, textural element to the art, and the color cues to keep you grounded in whatever timeline in which the action is taking place—are as strong as ever. This particular issue relies on history to move the story along, which means that instead of creating a futuristic setting like in the first issue they were able to reference (and play around with) actual historical landmarks and so forth. The universe of the story is well put together so the reader has no difficulty moving with the characters seamlessly through the changes in era. We see some development with the characters and their relationships in this issue—Einstein playing up (though possibly only slightly) the ‘absentminded professor’ shtick, the Princeton Dean being disconnected from the actual academia and more concerned about funding, Helen, the long suffering secretary. All the pieces of the puzzle are coming together, and none of them overshadows another.

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Elizabeth Fazzio
South Bay native turned East Bay resident. Holder of two less-than-useful arts degrees. Human Resources professional by day, creative recluse the rest of the time. Favorite words: Weasel, toast. Mental health advocate--https://makeitok.org
Elizabeth Fazzio
Summary
I am loving this book. There is enough real history to keep it grounded, but the liberties the creative team takes with them make the story immensely fun. Ol' Al's internal monologue consistently gives me the giggles. The little extras in the book are great, too—there's a little blurb on the Caspian Gates which figure heavily in the plot of issue two, snippets on Alexander the Great as he has been re-imagined for the Time Mason universe, and Helen, Einstein's secretary, giving us a little more context for her role in his life. At the beginning, there's a blueprint of Einstein's sidearm, a Mauser c96, and its specialized modifications, and at the end, a full-page version of the cover art without the title and credits. I think the best little extra this time around, though, is a pair of very flattering photos of artist Tony Donley, taken as reference for facial expressions and graciously given to the reader as part of a small glimpse into his artistic process. I swear, this book is like Christmas—you get a fantastic story and some spiffy little presents!
Good
  • Creative license with historical accuracy
  • Story elements are balanced
  • Extras within the book
Bad
  • I wish the issues were longer!!!
9
Amazing
Art - 9
Story - 9
Writing - 9
Predictability - 9
Written by
South Bay native turned East Bay resident. Holder of two less-than-useful arts degrees. Human Resources professional by day, creative recluse the rest of the time. Favorite words: Weasel, toast. Mental health advocate--https://makeitok.org

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