“Like an Invisible Hand, Singing” (22 pages) [no ads]
Created by: Brian Phillipson & Alex Murillo
Written by: Brian Phillipson
Art by: Alex Cormack
Colors by: Ashley Cormack & Alex Cormack
Lettering & Book Design by: Alex Murillo
Cover by: Alex Cormack
Publisher: Bliss On Tap
Cover Price: $3.99
Time travel is a tried, tested, true, tricky trope!! Say that five
times fast ;-P For the creators, they have to envision such a tale that
is gripping, unpredictable, and wild while remaining grounded in
science. For the readers, they have to suspend their disbelief and avoid
migraines whilst trying to figure out paradoxes.
As with pretty much every other comic reviewed on this site, I’m
delving without any previous knowledge. Nevertheless, I’m really
intrigued and want to dig through the back issues to process everything.
Four heavily moustachioed lawmen in black prepare for a shoot-out at
the O.K. Corral. Yes, that infamous locale. Opposite them are five
outlaws. The best of the West [Virgil Earp, his brothers Morgan and
Wyatt, along with Doc Holiday] vs. the worst of the dirt [sibs Billy and
Ike Clanton, brethren Frank and Tom McLaury, and Billy
Clairbourne]. The bad guys have a one-man advantage. Grab, draw, click,
shoot!!! The ballet of bullets lasts thirty seconds. Four wounded, three
dead, two escapees.
The quartet of justice are frauds!! Off come the false faces! They are
time jumpers James Rison and Simon Magus joined by newbies Andy Lee and
Bruce Buttons. The real McCoys [wrong reference ;-)] are
sound asleep and tightly bound. To prevent further tampering of the
timeline, they are deliberately wounded in the exact same places the
others were. Their memories will remain intact. They’ll never perceive
that they weren’t really in on the action. Luckily, the futurians
quickly heal and go their separate ways.
second story has the future Umbrella Man meeting his past self. He has
crossed the space-time continuum so many times his true identity is lost
to him. Don’t bother fretting about two versions of the same individual
being side-by-side. It can’t get more surreal and metaphysical than
this! The convo gets quite heady. That is to be expected since he/they
has/have traversed the tunnels of time on numerous occasions. The older
version wants to educate the young. Some things never change!! Questions
are half-answered or redirected. In the end, the wiser of the two kills
the inexperienced one. The lack of a scar from the slash inflicted on
the junior not appearing on the senior is proof enough that they are not
one and the same. Or are they???
snippet: Sitting Bull and his war council sit under the stars. The
constellations are askew. The flashes of light produce Simon and James.
The Natives converge on them. Wrong place. Definitely wrong time!
I’m really floored by this production!! I bought the first issue over
one year ago but never even opened it up!! Ain’t it funny? I’m extremely
grateful that Mr. Phillipson has identified all the players.
Admittedly, I would never be able to determine the four men on the
cover, let alone within the pages. Once I would have spotted the O.K.
Corral, I would take to the world wide web. Even more gratifying is my
introduction to the cast thanks to the identification. The Umbrella Man
makes me think of X-FILES’ Cigarette Smoking Man since the main
feature is what matters to establish a moniker. This book has an
FBI-esque feel since Simon and James are special agents tasked with
trying to make the world a better place various years at a time. The
laws of sci-fi dictate that one can never alter events from the past to
improve the present or to prevent an unpleasant future.
1963 seems to be the focal point. After digging around, I realize that the very first issue goes straight in media res
to the ‘prevention’ of JFK’s assassination. Each issue presents two or
three quick trips. The addition of the Umbrella Man adds mystery to the
larger arc. Is he a rogue agent? An enemy? A saboteur to James and
Simon’s efforts? This book is the best way to recap historical events in
an entertaining way!! This should be the new curriculum in History
of the Umbrella Man, he is a cog that has been loosened from the big
wheel. His erratic lifestyle has unhinged him quite a bit. He admits to
being chaos to the machine. He tells his de-aged self that he is an
unseen presence gently pushing him along and subtly guiding him through
his unheard voice. Excellent allusion to the title U.M. deliberately mentions the paradox and wants to entertain the notion that it may not be all it’s cracked up to be.
The official Bliss On Tap
site provides informative bios on the creators. Brian Phillipson is
president and co-founder of the company. His passion is alternative
fiction. This sure applies here. I really enjoyed the dialogue between
the two U.M.s The word “proof” is emphasized in their action. Plus, the
elder Man is keeping true to his mantra.
Cormack relishes in the bloodshed. I’m no prude nor am I squeamish but
DDDAAAMMMNNN!!! I was taken aback a bit by the gore. Mankind’s history
is rife with violence. The moustaches on the lawmen! The moustaches!!
That takes the cake. Aside from definite distinctions, they might as
well as be quadruplets.
Cormack is Alex’s wife. She kicks up a storm with the frenetic gunfire
fight. The pained faces on each character’s face is most authentic!! The
art is cartoony but it complements the absurd situation. U.M. has the
crazed lunatic look down pat. Each explosion has more finesse than
Murillo is executive vice-prez of BOT. He accurately drops the sound
effects and creates one that reflects its action. They range from BANG to ZZZ making
them hilarious or horrific. The credits indicate that he is responsible
for the book design. I am unsure if this refers to the simplistic logo
and/or cover page.
On Tap has been doing the indie thing for the last eleven years. They
are critically acclaimed for their first ever title: GOD the DYSLEXIC DOG.
Gotta get my hands on that! Had I simply looked at the cover, I
wouldn’t really be able to determine their symbol. I see the small
pyramid that evokes the Illuminati but I would never imagine that the
bigger shape is a cute canine with its paws on the food bowl. Their
bibliography is extremely tiny (eight works) with FUTURE PROOF being the only on-going series albeit bi-monthly. I PLAY the BAD GUY just concluded its six-issue run.
light of the chronological coordinating (or lack thereof), I leave with
this: 1881, 1963, 1933, 1876, hut!! I give this book 9 out of 10. My
head hurts -_-
When the Future Proof story
began, things were relatively simple. Well, as simple as a time travel
story of this type can be, anyway. James and Simon (and other time
agents like them) were tasked with going further and further back in
history, fixing certain historical events to repair the timeline. The
further back they go, though, and the more events they affect, the more
complicated things become.
We begin in Tombstone at the O.K. Corral.
Wyatt Earp, Doc Holiday, and the rest of the crew are preparing for
their famous gunfight. Only it’s actually 4 time agents disguised as the
famous crew, fighting the battle for them and making sure they win.
we go back to 1963. Well, forward to 1963, but back to us, because we
were there in the very first issue. If you read that first issue, you
may recall a very brief reference to a mysterious other time agent that
our heroes catch the briefest glimpse of before they carry out their
assignment. I actually didn’t recall it and had go back to issue #1 to
look it up. He’s there. And now, he’s back. This mysterious character
gets a visit from another mysterious character, and we begin to get a
clearer picture of just what’s going on behind the scenes of this time
travel adventure, who’s working to stop it, and why.
In the last
few issues, some of the characters have finally begun to question the
morality of their mission—which previously, they had just accepted quite
matter-of-factly. This raises a number of other issues with regards to
time travel - how it works, what they’re doing, etc. - and the comic is
beginning to explore those in more detail. It’s more complicated, yes.
If time travel stories confuse you, this might be the time to jump ship
on this comic.
I wouldn’t recommend that, though, because it’s also getting much deeper and more interesting. I was hooked on Future Proof
from the very beginning, and each issue draws me in a little bit
more—especially this one, and the previous one. Writer Brian Phillipson
has created an amazing world, and every issue lets us explore it a
little further. So yeah, if time travel stories leave you hopelessly
lost and confused, then this comic probably isn’t for you. But, if you
enjoy time travel as much as I do, then Future Proof is a definite must-read.