In this action-packed one-shot from IDW Publishing, writer Beau Smith combines two familiar SF tropes to come up with an adventure that may not particularly original, but certainly makes for a fun read. The first is the tried but true “lost world” scenario, wherein one or more contemporary travelers in a remote part of the world stumble across a hidden realm and make contact with a heretofore undiscovered culture which has existed without the knowledge of the outside world (See Lost Horizon, She or, well, the Lost World). The other is the idea of utilizing time travel to cross-pollinate people and materials from throughout history to a single time and place and see how they react (A la Riverworld, or the shared world “In Hell” series). If the resultant mash-up of warriors and dinosaurs on a remote island sounds sort of like the War That Time Forgot miniseries currently being published by DC, well I did say it’s not the most original premise, but it works.
It turns out that there are holes in time hidden throughout the world, some (such as the Bermuda Triangle or Devil’s Triangle) more well-known than others, but all capable of transporting the unsuspecting to a jungle island beyond conventional concepts of time passage, where the inhabitants do not age, nor can they escape back from where they came. Warring factions on the island are in constant race to be the first to take possession of new cargo that shows up on the island. One is led by a World War I fighter pilot named Frank Lujack, who has allied with Vikings, Zulu warriors, and soldiers from both sides of the Civil War. They are eternally opposed by a wretched bunch led by Axel Kriegsherr, a 18th century German general and occultist and counting primitive Neanderthals, ruthless samurai and Roman centurions among their lot. The dinosaurs are their own side.
The latest deposit on the island is of a modern-day AH-Apache military helicopter which brings two important elements to upset the balance. One is Molly Sims, a tough as nails pilot and astronaut who also happens to be darn purty and whose presence immediately improves the island’s cumulative hotness by a factor of 10. The other is the nuclear warhead the copter is carrying, which obviously in short order becomes the key to seizing ultimate power on this timeless isle, or possibly wiping it out once and for all.
Beau Smith is the only creator name-checked on the cover of this comic, but artist Gary Kwapisz should also get a shout-out for his efforts. Kwapisz is a name I recall from the 80’s, but I wonder if he hasn’t been out of the comics biz for awhile, because I haven’t seen him on much recently. The great storytelling on display here signals that Kwapisz may be an underrated gem that publishers should be utilizing more. It takes talent to combine helicopters, dinosaurs, Confederate submarines and the Flying Dutchman with great character designs, so kudos to him.
Although Lost & Found was released as a standalone one-shot, I was a little surprised at how thoroughly and even quickly the story wrapped up. The premise of the island would seem to have plenty of potential to fuel an ongoing series (titles like Turok Son of Stone and Warlord had decent runs), but IDW isn’t going that route. As soon as Smith sets up the particulars of the island, the finale of the story gets into full swing. Maybe I have been so programmed by the “decompression” method of other modern comics it blows my mind to see a “done-in-one” story zip along like this. Smith includes character notes to the dramatis personae on the inside cover, but several of these individuals don’t get more than a line or two in the actual story! The story is wrapped up with a bow, but I suppose a sequel isn’t completely impossible if there is any kind of demand for it. John Carter and Thomas Covenant returned home after their first adventures as well, so perhaps we haven’t seen the last of this crazy island, either.