Forever Forward #1 introduces us to a group of friends who are stuck time travelling – stuck, because they can only jump forward in time. They hope to eventually find a future that has mastered travelling backwards as well, and so return to their original time. Releasing on August 24th from Scout Comics, this time travelling adventure comes from the minds of writer Zack Kaplan and artist Arjuna Susini with colors by Brad Simpson and letters by Jim Campbell.
Although many of the concepts and themes immediately caught my interest, Forever Forward #1 unfortunately doesn’t utilize these intriguing elements well enough, leaving my initial expectations unfulfilled.
The fun of a time-travelling adventure to the future is getting to explore and discover potential forthcoming worlds. The best stories use the future to inform us about the strengths and weaknesses of our present society by showing us where it might lead.
While Forever Forward #1 does visit two different future time periods, it doesn’t reveal much about them besides the political situation. Although these developments do act as warnings about our current political climate, we don’t get to see anything more interesting or creative about these futures. What about their culture, their technology or even what they eat? And the comic doesn’t spend much time in these futures, as the group of friends leaps forward again before anything else can be explored.
Instead, most of Forever Forward #1 takes place in our present time, introducing us to the main protagonist: Lewis Moody, a gifted physicist who has discovered how to send living animals forward in time – well, only 0.33 seconds forward. Kaplan uses a lot of big physics words to make it sound like this technology has some sort of real foundation. As a physicist myself, I have fun seeing these terms and concepts, but I recognize it all for sci-fi nonsense.
The biggest problem with this section of Forever Forward #1 for me is that too much time is spent introducing the pseudo-science and the five main characters. There is a lot of exposition and dialogue, but not much action for an action-adventure story.
Of course, the best stories are character-driven, so I understand spending so much space in issue #1 establishing the main group of friends. By the end of the issue, we recognize each of them and know their names. But, on the other hand, at this point they are mostly just one-note characters who need to be fleshed out more.
Even Lewis, the main character, doesn’t have much depth. On top of that, he is terribly unlikable – just as writer Kaplan obviously wants him to be. He has become completely obsessed with his research and his dream of becoming a world-changing scientist. It’s turned him into a jerk.
And so, in the end, I just couldn’t identify with any of the main five characters enough to completely immerse myself in their story or care much about what will happen to them.
On a more positive note, the art by Arjuna Susini, with colors by Brad Simpson, is for the most part very good. You’ll find more than the normal amount of double-page spreads, most of which are filled with an extraordinary amount of detail. My favorite is probably a sprawling hill-side landscape of the university campus, which acts only as a transition between two scenes, but is beautiful to look at. Unfortunately, other pages look rushed, lacking the details that make the really good pages stand out.
Now I know I’ve mostly been pointing out its deficiencies, but Forever Forward #1 is not a bad comic. It’s a fairly standard time-travel setup with a good concept that fails to live up to its potential. Maybe the problem lies in the concept being great for an ongoing series, but it’s being written as a mini-series. Or maybe my expectations were just too high after reading writer Zack Kaplan’s other new series of the summer, Mindset, which is truly excellent.
In Forever Forward #1, there’s not enough exploration of the future worlds for a time-travel story. There’s not enough action for an action-adventure sci-fi story. And there’s not enough character depth to be truly character driven. I may pick up issue #2, to see if things improve. But if they don’t, I’ll probably drop the series.
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