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Back to the Future: Tales from the Time Train #1

by Doug Warren on December 27, 2017

Story: Bob Gale & John Barber
Script: John Barber
Art: Megan Levens
Colors: Charlie Kirchoff
Publisher: IDW

Let’s start off by saying why everyone is anxious to read this comic. Bob Gale gave an interview to the Hollywood Reporter saying he it will address the last line of the series, when Marty asks Doc if he’s going back to the future, and Doc replies, “Nope, already been there.” Now, for the last 27 years, I’ve thought that line was pretty surface. Not too deep. Yes, we’ve spent three movies going back to the future. We don’t need to do that anymore.
Well.

Turns out, Gale wants it to mean more than that, and that is what he and Barber plan to give us with this series. And as much as I hate writing (and for that case, reading) reviews with plot points and possible spoilers in them, the fact that a picture from this scene (with the last line from BTTF III) is on the cover, I think it’s safe to talk about it being in the book. The scene is there, and we see what Doc is doing immediately before this scene, and where he goes immediately after, which is a nice change from the Marty centric stories we’ve been seeing.

Except.

I don’t know if anyone else remembers this, but when CBS was first advertising Everybody Loves Raymond before it hit the airway, it had previews/commercials that featured Ray telling the premise of the show. And he said he had three kids “but the show’s not about them.” And that was good. It assured the audience it would be a comedy adults would like, and not a revamp Full House or the sitcom equivalent of a mommy blog (although I don’t think those existed they when Everybody Loves Raymond first came out). Well, in the interviews about this comic that I’ve read, Gale has said that he will give the fans what they want, stories focusing on the main characters from the movies, but after reading this issue, I’m afraid that might not be true. It seems to focus an awful lot on Doc’s kids.

And going with that, they played it too safe. Both the writers and Doc Brown. In the pre-final line of the film adventure, Doc is so cautious about not messing up the space-time continuum that he takes his kids to a place that no matter how badly they mess up, the error won’t have lasting consequences. Well, that being the case, there is no sense of conflict. How could there be? And without conflict, what makes a story compelling?

I must commend the artist. Levens has taken recognizable characters that we all know and translated them onto the page in a way that was perfect to the format. Nothing distracted from the story, and everything pulled us in.

I understand this was only a first issue, and more revelations and answers from the movies can come, more adventures and excitement. We just aren’t there yet.
 

Our Score:

7/10

A Look Inside