Time Shifters by Chris Grine could have been a lot of fun, but there’s a disturbing mismatch in tone between the opening and the majority of the content that overshadowed the rest of the book for me.
Spoilers follow for the first twenty pages of the graphic novel. Luke and his older brother Kyle head through the woods to a pond. They’re confronted by bigger bullies, and the result, after Kyle tries to protect his brother, is tragic. There’s an accident, and Kyle drowns.
Shortly thereafter, Luke encounters a mummy, a vampire dressed like Napoleon, and a skeleton in a spacesuit. They’re looking for a device that winds up stuck on Luke’s arm. He then teams up with a crotchety old inventor, robot Abraham Lincoln, a ghost girl, and their dinosaur ride as they travel through dimensions with the groups chasing each other.
Without that opening, this could have been a rollicking, silly adventure for boys (if one that tries too hard and goes on too long). The characters are exaggerated and the cartooning animated. But with it… I felt, reading it, like I had whiplash.
This seems like it could be a fun adventure for the 8-12-year-olds it’s being pitched at, but the opening is so different in tone that I found it shocking and unnecessarily disturbing. I would hate for a kid to pick this up, thinking “time travel and crazy characters”, only to be gut-punched by the sudden and abrupt death.
I don’t normally spoil books like this — although I’m not sure revealing the first twelfth of a book is that big a spoiler — but I feel strongly that adults should know what it contains. I’m concerned that they may need to comfort any kid that reads it, because it has the potential to traumatize them. Grine comes back around to the death, so there is story reason for it to be there, eventually. The problem is the abrupt early change, and the way it’s not even hinted at in the “wacky adventures” publicity.
Time Shifters goes on sale on May 30, and it can be ordered now from your local comic shop with Diamond code APR17 1787. It will also be promoted with a giveaway on Free Comic Book Day early next month. (The publisher provided an advance review copy.)