Knights Temporal #1
Cullen Bunn (Writer), Fran Galan (Artist, Cover Artist), Dave Sharpe (Letterer)
July 31, 2019
In the first issue of Knights Temporal, a new series from Aftershock Comics, things are not as they seem for Auguste de Riviére, a knight freshly returned from the Crusades who finds himself following a quest for redemption into the modern day. From writer Cullen Bunn, artist Fran Galan, and letterer Dave Sharpe, Knights Temporal #1 is a beautiful first chapter in what seems like an engaging story of time travel, the search for identity, and strangers in a strange new world.
Immediately, this first issue has a strong hook. The story is high concept, but accessibly so. Even as the script tightly controls the information readers might possess, it is easy to follow the story through multiple time periods, thanks to both Bunn’s clear exposition and Galan’s strong line and color art. In particular, Galan’s art provides readers a visual touchstone in the consistency of August’s appearance, while easily differentiating each time period through background details in the line art and color palettes.
This initial issue introduces a seemingly straightforward set-up: Auguste, hoping to regain his sense of honor after the Crusades, chases after the sorcerer Gaspard and his followers determined to stop them. When he follows Gaspard into a cursed forest, he meets Jane Foole, who serves an undisclosed higher power. She brings him to great, celestial lights and calls them “the path he must take.” Then, after passing through those lights, Auguste, now in jeans rather than full armor and answering to the modernized name of August, weaves through contemporary Los Angeles traffic with a similarly modern looking Jane in pursuit of the homunculi servants of Gaspard.
In their chase, they rescue a man who reveals to August that there may be parts of his past that have been hidden from him. In this new place and time, August must question his memory, his quest, and his sense of self. With this reveal, the audience has a revelation of their own: August is not the reliable narrator he seemed to be at the beginning of the issue. The information August has about himself is incomplete, and so anything he says or sees could potentially be just as unreliable.
The most interesting element of this first issue is the realization that August believed that he had the whole story, but that he is learning alongside the reader that his knowledge is limited and his memory is fallible. If he has died at Gaspard’s hands and has forgotten it at least once, there is no way to know if this hasn’t happened multiple times, and there is, as of yet, no way to know who is responsible for this loss of memory. And equally interesting going forward will be discovering how much Jane knows and has kept secret. This issue was very heavy in establishing background and catching readers up to the present tense of the story, but hopefully in future issues there will be more discussion of what August and Jane’s dynamic looks like, if they are reluctant allies or working are working against one another.
Galan’s art and colors are fluid and expressive, making for a visually engaging first issue. Dynamic line art grants the motion on panel life, making August and Jane’s chase through Hollywood traffic and their scuffle in an alleyway feel fast and energetic. Galan’s eye-catching colors highlight the different time periods Auguste finds himself in, which helps to ground the narrative about time travel in different moments of the story, as well as brings moments of magic and sorcery to life on the page. The main cover of this issue—also Galan’s art—showcases this issue well. August’s fractured memory and unreliable perspective is reflected through the facets of the crystal, resembling those that sent August into the future, in a cover which is both well-composed and sells its story well.
This is a strong first issue for what seems to be a bold new series from Aftershock Comics. Bunn and Galan seem to have immediately found their footing working together on this title, and it will be exciting to see which direction they take these characters and this story.