By Timothy Truman, with Mark Acres, John K. Snyder, Ken Bruzenak & Linda Lessmann (First Comics)
ISBN: 978-0-9154-1901-2 (PB Album)
Sometimes there’s a feeling in the air that leads to similar concepts “spontaneously” occurring in different places – Swamp Thing and Man-Thing always spring to mind – and sometimes it’s just a bunch of in-tune creators jumping rapidly onto a bandwagon. The Germans (and that includes me on my mother’s side) have a word for it, as they do for so many tricky concepts: “Zeitgeist”.
Whatever the thinking, the phenomenon is real and probably the only bad thing I can even imply about this superb long-lost gem of a book from the ever-excellent Tim Truman, aided by co-creator, Mark Acres, co-designer John K. Snyder, letterer Ken Bruzenak and colourist Linda Lessmann.
That the 1984 debut of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in some part inspired this superb fantasy I have no doubt, but since it was months ahead of the deluge of cheap knock-offs that followed I suspect that creative appreciation rather than greedy speculation fuelled the tale. Moreover, as the tone and content more closely resemble the Bill Mantlo, Keith Giffen & Sal Buscema reimagining of throwaway character Rocket Racoon (who properly debuted in a form you’d recognise in The Incredible Hulk #271, May 1982 before Mike Mignola made him a seminal star in a quirky much-reprinted 4-issue miniseries), any charge of “cashing in” becomes largely irrelevant.
In a dark place beyond the universe the Great Dam of Time regulates the chronological structure of each and every dimension, maintained and defended by high-tech Beavers against sinister extra-cosmic Rats called the Radere. These scurrilous scalawags utilise vile magic and embrace Chaos in their wicked schemes…
Eternally at war since time began, the Rats have suddenly gained a deadly advantage over the Timeguard by removing three objects of power from the Dam itself, and fled to three separate eras on the key world known as Earth.
Now. as the Rat forces mass to finally destroy the critically-weakened dam, only grizzled Captain Slapper, old Doc, faithful Mac and raw recruit Shiner can be spared to follow the Radere to those locations and retrieve the objects before it’s too late…
Even though there are laughs aplenty, this deliciously dark fantasy far exceeds its broadly comedic roots, as the hairy heroes save young D’Artagnan and the Queen of France in 17th Century Paris, foil Abraham Lincoln’s assassins at Gettysburg in 1863 and retrieve the Nagasaki Atom Bomb from Hitler’s bunker in the hours before his suicide in 1945.
Despite cosmic catastrophe, sneaky plot-twists and insidious treachery, the Beavers naturally save the day (and years and centuries), but not without suffering tragedy and heartbreak…
Time Beavers is a grand old romp, with strong characterisation and sharp dialogue that elevate this gritty fantasy far beyond its “funny-animal” antecedents, practically into the realm of “Straight” science fiction, and it’s all captivatingly illustrated with Truman’s trademark graphic intensity. Still readily available, it’s a book that all fans of comics, science fiction and especially science fiction comics should know.
© 1985 First Comics, Inc. All Rights Reserved.