Albert Einstein is a gun-toting Han Solo type, with clever, calculated comebacks and a certain devil-may-care attitude that throws his enemies off the scent of his extreme intelligence. But, when you’re as smart as Albert Einstein, you can have that kind of attitude, because you’re already two steps ahead of your foe, though your standoff may be in the ancient past or the far-flung future. Donley’s art is a joy, and he glories in his pulp inspirations and influences, using bright colors, thick shadows, structured panel layouts, and a stylized throwback lettering style that makes the dialogue and captions clear and streamlined, flowing right along with the action. The way the pages are designed, you could almost see it broken up and run as a serial in the color Sunday Comics of yesteryear, which creates a unique nostalgia that many of us never even grew up with, but it is an idea and a vision that we still get and can revel in. It seems Donley and Perry are as much time travelers as Einstein, paying tribute to the swashbuckling heroes, braggart mad scientists, and grand adventures of old, while still crafting a modern, entertaining story for readers in the here and now.
This first issue is not an origin story of how Albert Einstein became a Time Mason (a story I would love to see in the future), but rather we are thrown into the middle of one of Einstein’s time-traipsing missions, where he is facing off against a villain who really gets inside his head, in a way. By introducing us to Einstein the Time Mason in mid-action, we are instantly able to see this character at the height of his powers, and Donley and Perry are able to introduce us immediately to the kind of adventures that are a normal part of his being a Time Mason. Also, we are able to see him use his genius within the first few pages, as opposed to it being a secret weapon that he uses only in the direst of straits. Einstein’s intellectual prowess is simply a part of him, and so it is integrated naturally into his character and into the circumstances he faces. That is not to say there is not a secret weapon in this issue, but to say more than that would be to simply relegate it to a weapon, and its revelation is a blast.
My only complaint would be that we largely stay in the same location for the majority of the story, and we never get to meet the mysterious Time Masons. But, who wants to show all of their cards in the first hand? We do get a glimpse of Einstein’s more everyday life, but this is still Donley and Perry’s Einstein, and he’s still a Time Mason, so while he is outwardly talking about relativity, he is inwardly contemplating the idiosyncrasies of time travel. One thing I truly enjoyed was simply the character of Einstein, and the book could survive on that conceit alone. He is a rogue, a heartthrob (one of the funniest elements that is revealed near the end), and a true old-fashioned hero, with both brains and brawn. My hope is that there will be many more adventures of Albert Einstein: Time Mason to come, because not only do Donley and Perry have their fair share of amazing scientific discoveries to cover, they also have an engaging hero and an exciting world to work with and continue developing. Luckily for them, time is on their side.