Garth Ennis2000 AD
Time Flies
Medium: comic
Year: 1990
Writer: Garth Ennis
Artist: Philip Bond
Country: UK
Keywords: 2000 AD
Format: 2000 AD 700-711
Website category: Comics UK
Review date: 25 February 2022
It's the debut 2000 AD series of a very young Garth Ennis, still only twenty years old. In some ways it's not what I'd expected at all, while in others it's very Ennis. Ennis himself has since said of it, while praising Bond's artwork, that, "I think if you examine it in detail I think you'll find it was, in fact, crap."
Personally, I think he's talking out of his arse there. It's great. I laughed a lot. Mind you, I'm surprised that it was published alongside the even weirder Hewligan's Haircut. (I love both, but you'd think the editor might have chosen to space out those two bonkers nonsense comedies.)
It's a time-travelling romp. Squadron Leader Bertie Sharp is a WW2 fighter pilot who rarely has a clue about anything and says things like "egad!" Trace (short for "Tracer Bullet") is a hot young lady who knows what she's doing, which is more than can be said of the other good guys. Her other sidekicks include Doctor Oddsocks, an amiable mad professor who's always saying "WAWHAWHAWHAW!" and the spectacularly useless Prat and Puke Gloss, i.e. British boy band Bros. (Philip Bond draws them so accurately that one wonders if 2000 AD were paying for the use of the real singers' likenesses.) They wet themselves when scared and ask the most boring man in the universe if he'd like to join their band and play bass. "I've broken a nail! MEDIC!" I laughed a lot, but I'm surprised that no one got sued.
The tone is happy and silly. The Germans are goofy, while Hitler thinks he's a dog and keeps a tin of dog food on his desk. Morality is up for comedic grabs. "And now I've made a deal with Mr Hitler. Spare parts for me, war-winning technology for them!" (Trace cheats on her half of this deal, but it wouldn't have surprised us if she hadn't.)
It wouldn't have been a tenth of what it is without Philip Bond, though. My God, he's magnificent. His faces! I don't think he's capable of drawing facial acting that's anything less than first-rate.
It's atypical of Ennis, because the language is family-friendly and it has no gross-outs, shoot-outs or amoral murdering heroes. His later 2000 AD work like Judge Dredd and Strontium Dogs feels more Ennis-like, although usually also weaker than this. On the other hand, our heroes visit Heaven and Hell. "Gad, yes!" says Bertie. "It seems to me that some bounder is using us to make incredibly biased points about religion!" (Quite right, old chap, and it won't be Ennis's last time, either. This is, though, the funniest and best drawn of his various attempts at that, at least of those I've seen.)
The story has a sequel, Tempus Fugitive, that was shelved for five years and only ran in 1996 because of a policy that anything that had been paid for had to be published. Also, Bond bailed and the last four chapters were drawn by Jon Beeston, Roger Langridge and Simon Jacob.
Like I said, this one's great. Philip Bond is the king and Ennis's script regularly made me laugh. It's oddly violent towards the end, with all the baddies meeting bloody and sometimes graphic ends, but it manages to do this without breaking the light mood. (Which is impressive.) The last-episode punchline isn't all that, but never mind. An average issue of 2000 AD isn't even half as fun as this.