Time and Vine
When Them Zahler announced his newest project, Time and Vine, I called it “drunk time travel” to be silly, but the series turned out to be much different than I expected. Zahler is best known for his creative takes on romance (superheroes in Love and Capes, travelers in Long Distance, cursed geeks in Warning Label), but this story tackles different kinds of caring. It’s a more adult piece, one that explores memory and how it affects mature love, the kind that keeps people sticking through the bad times.
Megan’s been brought to a winery to get her mind off her struggles, but it’s not working. She can’t forget that her mother has Alzheimer’s. She winds up talking to Jack, the owner, who shows her the wine cellar. There’s something special there: if you drink a bottle from a particular year, you visit that time for a few hours.
As a history teacher, Megan loves the ability to see the early years of their town, for example, but her story also involves finding out that there’s a family secret. The time travel becomes a metaphor for how we may never know the real feelings and history of those close to us, and how stories shape us and our loved ones.
This is a terrific concept, and it left me wanting more. Zahler makes some cultural observations, which I was looking for (complete with the matching period costumes and hairstyles), but the story is really about seizing the best moments of our life when we can. Jack previously lost his wife, so time travel for him is melancholy. He can see her when she was younger and more vibrant, but only for a short time. Getting lost in memories can be painful, and we still have to carry on in the present day. Even if you have the ability to travel in time, there are rules, and it’s not a magic fix to challenges or sadness. That’s what I liked best about this story: even though it’s based in a fantastic premise, it’s full of emotional realism.
The collection of Time and Vine, reprinting the four double-sized issues, can now be preordered from your local comic store with Diamond code NOV17 0547. The cover price is $24.99, and it’s due out at the end of February 2018.