Knights Temporal #2
Cullen Bunn (writer), Fran Galan (artist, cover artist), Dave Sharpe (letterer)
August 28, 2019
Knights Temporal #2, by Cullen Bunn, Fran Galan, and Dave Sharpe, expands the world of the first issue and the questions it raised, broadening the scope of the mystery at the story’s heart with every answer given.
In the downtown branch of the Los Angeles Public Library, August is determined to uncover the truth, but is stopped in his tracks by one major problem: with only the memories of a knight of the Crusades, he doesn’t begin to know how to use a computer. Despite Jane’s discouragements, he pays a library patron to search all past occurrences of his name, and just how broad the scope of just what our narrator doesn’t know grows a little clearer.
As parts of August’s past come into focus, Jane’s retellings and his own faint recollections contradict the historical record. August is left with more questions even as he confirms that he has been present for events he doesn’t recall. This issue asks two big questions of August as a character: first, if he has been in at least one era he doesn’t remember, has he been present at other points in history and forgotten? And secondly, based on his actions in the Crusades, and the violent things he has done and forgotten, is he a hero or a killer? And as August starts asking these questions, Jane’s answers prompt a third question: how much knowledge is she hiding from August, and why?
Just as telling as the questions August asks are the questions that he doesn’t. When Jane tells him to heal himself, August already knows what to do, and with a glow of white light, he heals a wound to his upper arm. But when faced with a computer keyboard, or a photo of himself dated nearly two centuries prior, August freezes up. Even if August remembers this as his first journey into the future following Gaspard, he remembers things he must have learned from Jane.
Though this issue jumps around chronologically more than the first did, Fran Galan’s vibrant color art gives every time period its own visual character, grounding each panel. Galan’s art is bright and fluid, August and Jane are expressive and recognizable in every era they appear, and page layouts are energetic and clever. Every page of this issue is eye-catching, and no panel feels static.
In this issue, the extent of how much August has forgotten becomes more unclear, as do Jane’s reasons for keeping him in the dark. A major disconnect appears between the historical record and August and Jane’s actual involvement in those events, as is illustrated through a flashback sequence spliced with a library fight scene. Every source of information—August, Jane, third parties, historical record—proves to run counter to one another, and it becomes difficult to know who in the text to trust. It is not just that August is an unreliable narrator; it is that within Knights Temporal so far , there is no reliable narrator to be found anywhere. These competing, contradicting narratives and how August is continually defined and redefined by them present an interesting angle on a time-travel narrative: that of revisionist history and trying to uncover what exactly has been revised.
Knights Temporal #2 asks how will history remember you, if you’re the only one who knows the truth of what you do in the face of evil. And how will history remember you if you forget what you’ve done?