‘It’s 1893, and at last, Doc Brown fulfills his promise to Clara as he completes the project he’s been working on: the Time Train! But where in time and space will the Brown family go on their inaugural trip? And what could possibly go wrong if and when they get there?’
Back To The Future: Tales From The Time Train takes a break from the main story of the Back To The Future comics to focus on Doc Brown and his family, as they settle into their new lives as time travellers. Despite what the title may lead you to believe, there aren’t multiple tales contained within the pages of this collected volume, but one large story of the Brown family’s first trip together through the time stream.
Originally travelling into the future of 2038, Doc and Clara try to distract and entertain their young sons with a trip to a future amusement park, filled with robots. Unfortunately, it’s not the future adventure that they were hoping for, and things soon go astray, leading to Doc Brown to try a different approach, and time.
Taking his family to the New York World’s Fair in 1939, he hopes that they can find something to keep them entertained. Unfortunately, things don’t go as planned when Einstein escapes from the time train and gets lost in the Fair, getting himself mixed up with Prince Rufio, the ‘four legged regent of Barataria’; whilst Doc Brown falls into the sights of a pair of Nazi agents, who think that he might be Albert Einstein.
What ensues are two outlandish and over the top stories that keep intertwining around the two cases of mistaken identity, and bumbling villains.
The story itself isn’t too bad, and is at times quite fun and inrriguing. Doc Brown and his family are genuinely pleasant to spend time with, and Jules and Verne never quite stumble into the ‘annoying kid’ role that often happens in fiction. Their reactions to the things that they are seeing feel very real and believable, and can sometimes even be quite sweet. The scene where Doc Brown explains away why the Fair means so much to him and is a moment of hope in a very dark world gives a wonderful insight into the character.
Sadly, the villains of the piece, two Nazi agents, and some of the handlers of Prince Rufio, feel very two dimensional and flat in comparison. They spend much of the book as caricatures, rather than characters. If the Brown family weren’t so well written then this would have been a major problem, instead of just a minor annoyance.
The artwork is well drawn, and is simply coloured with most of the art having just a base shade and a shadow. It keeps things simple, and stops the panels from feeling too crowded, and the simple, flat coloured backgrounds helps to emphasise the action taking place with the characters.
The main criticism of the book is that it begins to feel a bit long by the end, with the story stretched too thin. The book has six issues, but it could easily have told the same story without missing anything important in just five. Whilst a good portion of the book is filled with entertaining character moments, it’s towards the end, when the characters are on the run from the villains, that things start to feel a little too long, and dare I say, boring.
Overall, Back To The Future: Tales From The Time Train tells a very entertaining and engaging story, and even adds new light to one of the final scenes from the films. It explores the Brown family in fun ways, and creates a core cast that readers will definitely want to see more from again in the future.
Back to the Future: Tales from the Time Train is now available from IDW Publishing.