A Heck of a Place to Take His Last Breath (Albert Einstein: Time Mason #4 “Right Place, Wrong Time” Comic Review)

Art and Letters by Tony Donley
Script by Marcus Perry
Edited by Kris Simon
Cover by Mike Huddleston
Variant Cover by Tony Donley

The last time we saw the gallant professor, he was lying in the street in Silver City, New Mexico, shot. The thief was getting away, the crowd was gathering, and we were all wondering just how Al was going to get out of this one.

In This Issue: Part-time boxer and Albert’s new babysitter Joseph ‘Elwood’ Nutt has arrived to collect his charge, but as there is no sign of the good doctor he is forced to settle in and wait.

Back in Silver City, Albert is lying in the street, shot. The crowd is ogling when the sheriff shows up, and as he attempts to disperse them and attend to the body, the body pops up into a sitting position, startling everyone. Thanks to a little non-Newtonian fluid, our hero avoided injury and has survived another day to thwart those who seek to tamper with the universal timeline. However, the sheriff has other ideas, and informs Albert that he is destined for the clink. Al makes an attempt to talk his way out of the situation but after being informed that his assailant has already been apprehended he quickly changes his mind and requests to be delivered to the local lockup post-haste.

It transpires that the local lockup isn’t where Al and his target are headed at all—they’re being put on the next train out of town, the Silver Express. As they walk along the platform to the train, Al presses the sheriff for information on the train’s cargo. It turns out that everything mined since the last train passed through is being loaded up to be delivered to the state mineral exchange, and that includes a chest sized appropriately to house the stolen Century Stone.

Upon entering the train car set aside for transporting ne’re-do-wells, Albert’s fellow prisoner is a fair-haired fellow, but not the one he was expecting. He finds himself in the presence of none other than Billy the Kid, whose gang arrives to spring their boss and then stick around to help Al find the Century Stone and the man transporting it. Finding both in the same train car, a scuffle ensues leaving part of the train with Billy and his gang behind. It’s a tough fight, but Al prevails, tossing his opponent from the train and moving on to more important things, like getting the case the Century Stone is in out of a locked metal cage-like crate. With a bit of clever engineering he hijacks some steam from the train’s engine, and just as the bars break—

While all of this is going on, Elwood has been waiting with increasing impatience for the professor to exit his abode in order to be transported to work. Eventually, with no sign of Einstein, Mr. Nutt decides to take matters into his own over-sized hands and goes inside to search for his truant, only to stumble into Al’s utterly anachronistic ‘treasure room’.

And that’s where the T-Rex comes in, but you’ll just have to see for yourself what that’s all about.

My Two Cents: We’re treated to another beautifully executed issue this month! Art, story, and writing work together beautifully. Everything flows. It’s fluid and constant with little moments of carefully placed suspension, then a change of direction that sweeps you someplace else entirely. It’s cinematic. There are so many places the whole thing could be a choppy, jumpy mess, but it never is. A heavy theme in this particular issue (slightly more so than normal) is homage. In the Mason Memo at the end of the book, writer Marcus Perry outlines how he and Tony Donley, the artist, have intentionally worked in a plethora of pop culture references and gags since their time-traveling hero could well have been exposed to any number of cultural phenomena through his work. And also because they enjoy it. Personally I find it adds another delightful layer of whimsy to an already fantastic story. And, okay, fine, there are a couple of moments where the little voice at the back of your head says, “Well, that was convenient,” but you know what, little voice? I really don’t mind.

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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
In the course of this installment of the story we get cowboys and a train robbery, which you would expect to find together, but then there's a massive scuffle and then—BOOM—a T-Rex. But it all makes perfect sense! If you had told me at this time last year that someone was going to put out a comic that blended Albert Einstein, time travel, Nazis, well-known historical figures, and pop culture, with the added bonus of a T-Rex, I would have told you to go pound rocks. I would have told you it couldn't be done—at least not well. But here we are, and if you’ve been reading along I’m sure you’ll join me in saying, “More, please!” Side note: There is a splash page in this issue which actually made me spit out my drink. I won't spoil it for you—I'll let you find it in your own time. (Maybe drink-spray-proof your copy somehow, though, yeah?)
Good
  • Quirky artistic details
  • Excellent combination of truth and fiction
  • Extras within the book
  • Art and story blend seamlessly
  • Creative license with historical accuracy
  • Constant action
Bad
  • There's a teeny-tiny bit of "convenience" in the solutions. Just a little bit.
9.8
Amazing
Art - 10
Story - 10
Writing - 10
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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