Preview: ‘Time Flies’ – The Latest 2000 AD Digital Only Release Grabs Goering From The Temporal Pirates

by Richard Bruton

The latest 2000 AD straight to digital collection is a funny beast – funny in both senses. But there’s plenty to enjoy, especially in Philip Bond‘s delicious artwork.

Time Flies is not vintage 2000 AD. It’s not well remembered at all in fact. Garth Ennis really isn’t a fan:

I think if you examine it in detail I think you’ll find it was, in fact, crap.

But, is there anything in here that’s worth your time and money? Is it as bad as Ennis remembers?

Well….

And that’s pretty much all you need to know. Whether you enjoy this or not may well depend on a few things.

Firstly and most importantly, whether or not you like Philip Bond – and frankly, if you don’t think of Bond as one of the great artists, then I really don’t think I want to know you.

Secondly, whether you enjoyed Deadline at the time. And finally, if you can put to one side the somewhat disjointed storyline and the hit and miss comedy… then you should be in for something of a minor treat.

Now, I love Bond’s artwork, always have since first seeing it in Deadline on the magnificent Wired World. So seeing anything by him, no matter what, is always a treat.

And so I found myself enjoying this one. I chortled along quite nicely.

It’s in no way 2000 AD‘s best, that’s for sure. But it’s not as bad as Ennis would perhaps have you think.

Okay then, it’s time to jump onboard a time-travelling JCB with World War Two pilot, Squadron Leader Bertie Sharp and future time cop, Trace Bullet, as they try to rescue Herman Goering from a temporal pirate, Captain Whitewash.

Or, as Trace puts it…

Yes, that’s really it. That’s the entire first series.

Oh, and Bros are in it as well…

First published in the ’90s, Time Flies had two series, some five years apart. The sequel, Tempus Fugitive, features a resurrected Cutty O’Sark (Captain Whitewash’s first mate and the real bad guy of the whole thing) looking to control reality.

It’s often said that the only reason Tempus Fugitive saw the light of day is attributed to IPC’s policy at the time of publishing anything that any work that had already been paid for had to be published.

By Tempus Fugitive, things weren’t working anywhere near as well as they had in the first series – and remember, that first series is decidedly hit and miss with the comedy clashing against anything pretending to be a longer storyline.

Worse, Bond only did some of the artwork there, with the last four parts coming from Jon Beeston and Roger Langridge. No offense meant to either Beeston or Langridge here, I enjoy work from them both, but this started out as Bond’s show and having the art switch just makes a disjointed second series look the same way it reads.

In many ways, the failure of Time Flies is the same as the failure you get in many other longer form comedies, either in 2000 AD or elsewhere.

They always work best when they’re not trying to be anything other than comedy strips, hitting you hard with the gags and not really caring too much about where the story fits in.

That’s why Alan Moore and Steve Parkhouses Bojeffries Saga is my all-time favourite comic comedy, and it’s also why something like Tank Girl floundered in later stories a little, the storyline that hadn’t been at all important early on suddenly became the main thing and the impetuousness of it all was lost.

Art from Tempus Fugitive by Jon Beeston

That’s exactly what happens, to a lesser extent in the first Time Flies series and big-time in Tempus Fugitive.

But, it was Ennis’ first 2000 AD series, coming hot on the heels of the young writer’s first break in Crisis with Troubled Souls and True Faith. So you can forgive him this one, surely, even if he can’t forgive himself.

Art by Roger Langridge from Tempus Fugitive

Yes, it’s the book few liked at the time – but there’s still much to enjoy in this one, most of it in the first series, where Bond’s artwork is just so gloriously good, with an inherent comedy in almost everything he does.

It’s silly, absurd even, and it doesn’t really hold together as well as some of these other 2000 AD digital releases have done. But it’s worth the price of admission just to see Bond at work.

 

Time Flies – written by Garth Ennis, art by Philip Bond (Time Flies) and Philip Bond, Jon Beeston, Roger Langridge (Tempus Fugitive). Colours by Simon Jacob, letters by Kid Robson and Steve Potter. Cover by Henry Flint.

Originally published in 2000 AD Progs 700-711, Tempus Fugitive published in Progs 1015-1023

The Time Flies collection is a digital only collection – get it from the 2000 AD shop from 5 May.

Now… a preview of those early Time Flies, complete with all that gorgeous Bond artwork… as well as Bros, Hitler, and a very confused pilot…

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