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Backtrack #5 – Review
When questioning my own likes/dislikes around the great fictional races of my time so much comes to mind. There’s the infamous horror cum action series of Death Race. Not to mention the space race depicted in Star Trek Voyager episode “Drive.” Though few come this close to a race that transverses the space time continuum like this comic series. In a way, the complexities of Backtrack are quite charming and (at times) frustrating in how you are flung from one country and timeline to another in the following issue. Yet there’s an expert level of understanding at play here. Both in how to pace a fast tracked story while also not sacrificing any wasted comic panel real estate.
I’m not going to lie. Backtrack IS NOT a comic series you can pick up halfway through. So much so, to prepare for this interview I had to quickly purchase the previous four issues just to get a handle on this adrenaline fuelled adventure. Writer Brian Joines, who you may recognise from his time on Image series like Krampus! and Secret Identities, paints a decisive picture of nonstop action from cover to cover.
For a crash course (pun intended!) on what to expect: Backtrack is about a race across time and space with an unenviable prize at the end. I say unenviable because the amount of trials and unexpected deaths along the way gives rise to the assumption that there’s something wrong with each character in its pursuit. Call it the white whale if you will.
Backtrack #5 takes a group of the entrants through to a fascistic Germany where they are held hostage by a Thomas Eichorst looking character (minus the vampire stuff) determined to put them through all sorts of hell because they have to spies. Right? They escape but only because of the sacrifice of a dear friend.
While the idea of a comic book tackling The Amazing Race across Space and Time might not immediately appeal to you, there are certain neat touches that will be the decider. Jake Elphick’s illustration is a veritable masterclass of achievable panel angles. While the vibrance of Doug Garbark’s coloring never feels too much. In fact, it is feels period specific throughout the entire issue. Both in flashbacks and flash forwards. It would be a disservice not to mention Jim Campbell’s achievement with the German speaking characters of this book. Campbell’s lettering made me feel a certain air of unease. Not unlike the uneasiness of Indiana Jones meeting Adolf Hitler for the first time.
If you can spare the cash in this Covid effected world then don’t just buy this one issue. Buy the whole goddamn run. What have you got to lose except time? (See what I did there)
Pick this up from Oni Press or your Local Comic Shop.