This article was originally published at ComicBook.Com on March 4, 2015.
Matt Kindt is very smart. If you read Mind MGMT, that becomes clear very quickly. Given complete control over the page, he has made that series one of the absolute best being published each month. However, his intelligence isn’t defined purely by the excellence of a single title that is almost entirely his own creation. Kindt works as a writer on a variety of titles each with their own genre and appeal. Take a look at other comics he is involved with like Divinity and The Valiant, and you discover they each have their own unique voice. Kindt is a creator capable of not only recognizing his own vision, but of collaborating with others in order to ensure that each comic reflects the strengths of the concept and its creators.
Each of these series goes their own speed and PastAways is no exception. It isn’t the intense psychological puzzle that is Mind MGMT, but it isn’t the epic superhero tale of The Valiant either. PastAways is a quirky spin on science fiction concepts like time travel and the team dynamics commonly associated with superhero comics. It focuses upon a group of five time travelers from the distant future all stranded in the 21st Century after an accident. Each of the five fills a very specific role in the team. The cover includes a caption for each member mentioning both their technical role (e.g. “weapons specialist”) and their personality (e.g. “heartless bastard”). All of them are called to reassemble after anomalies like an acid-farting miniature dragon begin to appear, suggesting that someone may have found their place in time.
There’s a real sense of play to all of this, from the obvious roles filled by each member of the team to the zany science fiction concepts included. PastAways is a comic with its tongue stuck firmly in its cheek. This is written for comics fans who have sampled their fair share of both superheroes and sci-fi, enough that they can recognize tropes as soon as they appear and enjoy poking some fun at them. There are ample examples of this sort of play in the first issue alone. The team’s weapons specialist can overcome ridiculous odds and is also constantly looking for a fight. She fits into the role of the hot headed bruiser in such an over-the-top manner that the violence she inflicts lands like a rimshot at a comedy club.
The way I’ve been writing about PastAways would make it seem like this is Matt Kindt’s comic, but that’s not even half true. His script provides a lot of cleverness and dry wit, but Scott Kolins and Bill Crabtree execute these ideas and make the entire story function. Style isn’t everything, but there’s something to be said about what Kolin’s pencils and inks bring to each page. He has a unique look that is all his own, although fans of Simon Gane or Chris Burnham are bound to recognize something they like. It’s detail oriented cartooning. Kolins creates a world that feels fully realized, but one that is exaggerated enough that monstrous robots and underwater bases fit in naturally.
Accompanied by Crabtree’s colors, Kolins displays a world that is very similar to our own, but feels just a little bit bigger. Whether a sequence is set alongside a volcano or in the ruins of ancient Greece, they pop with luster of a 60s spy flick. That added wonder makes sense because the craziness present in PastAways #1 is only there due to the appearance of these time travelers. Whether it’s the absurd looking monster from the first few pages or the big surprise at the end, Kolins executes the appearance of these oddities from throughout time with all of the detail and complexity they deserve.
PastAways #1 is another great new comic from Matt Kindt, but it only succeeds as much as it does because of his collaborators: Scott Kolins and Bill Crabtree. They work together to make this comic that is part farce, part sci-fi blockbuster, and all fun cohere into an enjoyable first issue. It’s a comic made for readers who can afford to chuckle at their favorite genres, and for those readers this comic is sure to succeed.