Science has achieved one of man’s greatest dreams: time travel! Using a time gun, one can travel through time, but criminal forces have gotten their hands on this technology and are robbing the past of its treasures. All over the world, secret time agents work to keep history in its correct order. Mortensen is one of these agents, traveling back and forth in time to right these wrongs and maybe even solving a mystery or two.
Mortensen’s Escapades #1: The Mysterious Manuscript
By Lars Jakobsen
Graphic Universe/Lerner Publishing Group; August 2012
48 pgs.; $6.95
Mortensen’s Escapades is a European comic originally published in Denmark in 1993. It follows the adventures of time agent Mortensen. In 1929 Denmark, he meets with a book collector who shows him an illuminated manuscript with the image of an airplane in it. Mortensen must travel to Scotland and go back to 1512 to find the book to keep history right. Along the way, he loses his time gun and meets the author of the book and a mute woman, Blossom, who is considered a witch by the village but who is also handy with an axe. While Mortensen is able to take care of the future items, Blossom is left in a bad way, and he must make one more trip to right her fate as well.
Mortensen doesn’t get much of an introduction, as the story jumps right into the action in the first few pages. We don’t know anything about him other than his status as a time agent, but we can see from his actions that he’s serious about his job and doing it right. He doesn’t think twice about putting himself in danger to help someone. While his job comes first, he doesn’t turn his back on the people who helped him. He isn’t perfect, as his habit of smoking a pipe does get him into a bit of trouble. He still makes sure to get the job done, though not alone. In this first volume, he is assisted by the writer of the illuminated manuscript, Mandrake, and the mute woman, Blossom. I really liked Blossom. She wasn’t afraid of the villagers or Mortensen, and she had a strong love of reading, as she read many of the books found in the airplane. I also liked the way she brandished an axe.
Lars Jakobsen does a good job of combining action with historical elements. In his journey back in time, Mortensen deals with illuminated manuscripts, witch trials, and dungeons. The story is never interrupted; Jakobsen waits until the end to give detailed explanations of these and other things seen in the story. There is also some nice, subtle humor, such as Blossom’s reaction to losing to Mortensen and the explanation for the appearance of the Loch Ness Monster and the return of Mortensen’s time gun. The story moves at a brisk pace and keeps the slow scenes to a minimum. The art is well done and the character designs are varied; most noticeably, Mortensen looks very different from the rest of the characters. He is the only one in the volume whose eyes are just dots, while everyone else has more traditionally drawn eyes. It makes him stand out as being different.
Mortensen’s Escapades is a fun and entertaining title. It sneaks the education in and presents it in a way that doesn’t seem obvious but will still satisfy the curious. Both boys and girls can enjoy the story. While it’s rated for 4th to 8th grades, this is a title anyone can enjoy. Elementary and teen libraries/collections should give this title a serious look.
Review copy provided by publisher.