‘On a mission to uncover the secrets that sent Jailbird Joey Baines to prison, Marty is trapped in 1972-and the DeLorean has vanished! Things go from bad to worse when Biff Tannen teams with 18-year-old Joey to break into a house… and they drag Marty along! Their target: Doc Brown’s mom!!!’
The fifth volume of the ongoing Back To The Future comic series continues to tell the story of Joey Baines, Marty’s uncle, who went to prison when Marty was just a young boy. Having travelled back to the 1970’s in the previous volume to try to find out what happened to cause Joey to spend his adult life in prison, Marty and Professor Irving find themselves without the DeLorean, and entangled in Biff and Joey’s plot to steal $85,000 from Doc Brown’s mother.
With the stage having already been set in the fourth volume, the latest book concludes the story, and has much more character development, excitement, and revelations about the Back To The Future universe.
Throughout the course of the issues collected here we see Marty get forced into taking part in the robbery of Doc Browns mother, and actually end up being responsible for Joey getting caught and going to prison.
Instead of being something that causes Marty guilt, it actually brings him closer to his uncle, as by the end of the book he learns that Joey himself felt guilty for getting Marty caught up in events, and was willing to go to prison to not only make up for that, but to become a better person.
By the end of the book we see that Joey has become an honourable man, even going so far as to teaming up with the Biff in the present to track down the missing $85,000, not to take it for himself, but to return it to Doc Brown and apologise for what he did in the past.
It’s a surprisingly touching revelation, and the relationship shift between him and Marty is a genuine pleasure to see. It could have been very easy to fall into the trap of having Joey be the angry ex-con who just wants to get even with those who got him arrested, but playing him as a reasonable, well adjusted man who has acknowledged the mistakes of his past and learnt from them is a welcome take on the story.
The book is also filled with other fun little moments, with the meeting between Marty and Biff in the 1970’s being a particular favourite. With Biff and his gang recognising Marty as Calvin Klein, the mysterious youth who ruined their schemes in the 1950’s, Marty has to think on his feet and pretends to be Kleins son instead, even coming up with a very plausible 1950’s pregnancy scandal to explain away him (or as far as Biff knows, his father) suddenly disappeared from town.
It’s very clever writing, and avoids having Biff be too dumb to not realise he’d seen Marty before, as that would be too stupid even for Biff. This scene also adds further context to the world, as it shows some of the effect of Marty appearing in the 1950’s had, and how the people of Hill Valley who knew Calvin Klein would question his sudden disappearance.
The book also manages to work itself into the backstory of Doc Brown, explaining how a relatively poor ‘mad’ scientist was able to fund his experiments and the building of the time machine in the first film. To be honest, this wasn’t something I’d ever really questioned before reading this book, but it makes sense that Doc Brown would need a substantial amount of cash.
Back to the Future, Vol. 5: Time Served is a big improvement on the previous volume, and provides a lot of entertainment and enjoyment as it delves into the history of the Back To The Future universe and sets up for exciting things to come in the future.