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Interview: Ibrahim Moustafa Gives Historical Perspective in 'Retroactive '

Interview by Troy-Jeffrey Allen

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Arriving this April from Humanoids, Retroactive (MAR221607) introduces readers to a new Cold War. One between time-jumping global agencies determined to spin historical events in their favor. 

What happens when time is a battlefield, the past is snatched away, and history is undone? We hung out with Retroactive writer-artist Ibrahim Moustafa to find out more...

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Catch us up to speed, what is Retroactive all about?

Sure! The elevator pitch is: James Bond meets Groundhog Day.

We're in the near future, and 5 of the world's superpowers have secret time-travel branches of their intelligence agencies. So, think: the CIA of time-travel. They work to preserve the county's history, and keep rival agencies from tampering with the past for political and economic gain. They also work to avert disasters and terror attacks, effectively making them as if they never happened.

When our main character, a Bureau of Temporal Affairs agent named Tarik Abdelnasser, is sent to track an unknown entity in the timeline, he's trapped in a time-loop where an imminent terrorist attack keeps resetting the day, and he has to find a way to stop the attack and break free of the loop, in order to get back to his ailing mother and stop the bad guys in his own time.

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What type of historical events can readers expect in this time travel series?

We get some glimpses of Nazi-occupied France, Dallas in 1963, The Berlin Wall... Those are mostly just there as background to the events of the story, most of which take place in the near future in a few different time periods.

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Tell us about Tarik Abdelnasser. How does he factor into this story? Why?  

Tarik is our main character. We follow his journey from a new recruit who has some questions about the work he does, to a seasoned pro who believes strongly in the mission of the BTA. But as the events of the book unfold, he starts to really question just about everything. He becomes disillusioned with the job after learning some secrets that are kept by the organization, and he sees what he could become if he swings too far in the other direction.

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What has the process been like for you as writer and artist?

I LOVE writing and drawing stories. There's a completeness you get out of telling the whole thing yourself from birth to earth. And I still get the really wonderful opportunity to enjoy the collaborative aspect of comics while working with Editor Rob Levin, Brad Simpson who colors the book beautifully, and Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou, who brings his really innovative lettering to the table.

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In terms of audience, who is Retroactive for?

Retroactive is for fans of time travel stories, especially time-loop movies like Groundhog Day, Edge of Tomorrow, Happy Death Day and Palm Springs. Fans of narratives that take place “5 minutes into the future”, espionage/spy movies, and James Bond and Mission: Impossible, and Tenet will really dig this as well!

Thanks so much for the feature!

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Retroactive (MAR221607) is available on April 27, 2022, at comic shops. Reserve your copy today using PREVIEWSworld Pullbox!

Keep an eye on's TwitterFacebookYouTube, or Instagram for more from BOOM! Studios. 

(W) Ibrahim Moustafa (A/CA) Ibrahim Moustafa
Haunted by the torture he endured in a Nazi POW camp during World War II, French-Algerian spy Idris Morel is hell-bent on exacting revenge against his captors. Tasked by MI6 to hunt down escaped Nazi war criminals with falsified death certificates, With the official sanction of a government colleague, Morel embarks on a one-man espionage mission to ensure that the escapees are brought to justice. On his quest for revenge, Morel must find redemption, or risk becoming like the very monsters he hunts. Collecting the critically acclaimed, Eisner-nominated digital comic for the first time in print.
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(W) Ibrahim Moustafa (A) Ibrahim Moustafa
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Framed for treason and wrongfully imprisoned at the hands of a jealous rival and a corrupt magistrate, Redxan Samud escapes his hovering prison colony hell-bent on retribution. Given a map from his dying jail companion to the location of a stolen cache of Union Credits large enough to make him wealthy beyond imagination, Samud concocts a plan to exact revenge on those who conspired to let him rot in a cell.
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(W) Ibrahim Moustafa
An agent working for the U.S. Bureau of Temporal Affairs sets out to discover the source of several anomalies in the timeline-only to become imprisoned in an inescapable time loop.

The discovery of time travel is unknown to the general public, but a new Cold War rages between global intelligence agencies as they attempt to alter historical events in favor of their respective futures. When new intel points the U.S. Bureau of Temporal Affairs (BTA) toward a hostile anomaly in the past, veteran field agent Tarik Abdelnasser and his new partner, Lucia Olmos, are dispatched to investigate. They discover a radical adversary wielding a new technology that could unravel everything the BTA fights to maintain.
In Shops: Apr 27, 2022
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Troy-Jeffrey Allen is the producer and co-host of PREVIEWSworld Weekly. His comics work includes MF DOOM: All Caps, Public Enemy's Apocalpyse '91, Fight of the Century, the Harvey Award-nominated District Comics, and the Ringo Award-nominated Magic Bullet.

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