I read the digital trade of 40 Seconds (issues #1-5) in about that amount of time. I flew through it, which was a mistake. Mostly because this story, written by Jeremy Haun, is mysterious and fun. The alien worlds created by artist Christopher Mitten and colored by Brett Weldele are unique and gorgeous. I also missed what exactly the titular 40 seconds was all about. It’s not entirely my fault. Once this story gets going, it takes off and does not let up. I started again and forced myself to slow down, allowed myself to go where letterer Thomas Maurer guided my eye, soaking in each new world, basking in the orange glow of the next gate.
40 Seconds is billed as a science-fiction/fantasy epic, and I don’t disagree. It’s the story of 4 pseudo astronauts or explorers that travel to new planets using something called Forge Gate Technology, given to mankind through a mysterious beacon doubling as a distress signal. The terminus of these gates being the source of the distress signal. The comic opens with an introduction of the intrepid explorers in a scene reminiscent of Alien, and curiously, no names are used, but the explorers refer to themselves by number. As 1, 2, 3, and 4 step through the first gate and begin their mission in earnest, it doesn’t take long to become clear that these worlds and this mission are not what they were told they would be.
Jeremy Haun has written a love letter to science-fiction stories. There are elements of fantasy and horror, but 40 Seconds has the feel of a classic science fiction tale, at times both familiar and wholly original, as though Haun has taken in years of science-fiction comics, books, tv, and movies, mashed them into one and imbued the result with his unique voice because the true strength of this story is how much you will care about characters named 1, 2, 3, and 4. As all great science-fiction does, at least in my mind, is to make you care, make you think, even if you don’t at first realize it because you’re having so much fun.
Speaking of fun, as I mentioned before, Mitten had the task of creating several different worlds and different locations in each world. Each world is unique and yet fits like a puzzle piece in the whole of this creation: whether it is ruins, or an ice planet, or jungle, strange creatures and strange enemies. All of which is dazzlingly complemented by Weldele’s pastel colors painting each panel with a dreamlike glow. Maurer’s lettering is sharp and precise, but I especially appreciate the “FORTY SECONDS…” panel each time it appears. Maurer truly gets to shine with the SFX as the action intensifies. About three quarters of the way through the story, there’s an SFX that fills the entire panel and is particularly effective to convey the terrifying events depicted.
This is a fun, fascinating, and gorgeous science-fiction comic where mysteries are presented with each new world. If, like me, you’re a fan of things like Alien, Stargate, John Carter of Mars, Oblivion, and Star Trek, then you are going to love the writing, and if you’re a fan of beautiful, interesting, and unique alien landscapes, then you are going to love the artwork. 40 Seconds does not disappoint.