By Joshua Rivera
Updated November 13, 2014 at 04:29 PM EST

What if we explored time the way we did space—with expeditions manned by our best and brightest as the whole world watches on live television? That’s the premise behind Chrononauts, a new Image Comics series by Mark Millar (Kick-Ass, The Secret Service) and Sean Murphy (Punk Rock Jesus, The Wake).

Described by Millar as “Apollo 13 meets The Time Machine,” Chrononauts aims for big sci-fi fun that will appeal to fans of last summer’s Guardians of the Galaxy. “‘Man’s first step into the past’ was really the starting point for this, planting an American flag in the soil the day before even Columbus arrives,” Millar says. “But of course it all goes horribly wrong and so we have these two guys stranded in the time-stream, trying to get home, but at the same time at this incredible advantage the people around them don’t have.”

It’s a deliberate step away from the grounded and more serious sci-fi fare of recent memory, an escapist time travel adventure in the vein of Doctor Who. “It’s essentially a buddy story about two best friends who can jump around between 16th-century Persia, the American Civil War or New York in the ’20s,” Millar says.

And then there’s the art.

Sean Murphy has quickly become one of the most exciting pencillers in comics, and his distinct linework has filled some of the memorable comics in recent memory, books like Punk Rock Jesus (which he also wrote) and The Wake. Chrononauts, however, promises to be a very different sort of book.

“When Mark first sent me the pitch, I remember showing it to my wife. She looked at me and said, ‘Oh my God—this book is so you!’ I rarely get to work on a script with comedy, so this entire project has been a real treat,” Murphy says. “For the sci-fi designs, I created the suits to be a bit retro—like F1 racing suits from the 1960s. It’s a bit more fun and whimsical, and fits the tone of the characters better. A lot of sci-fi tries to reinvent the wheel; for Chrononauts, I went through the last three decades and picked a mix of the coolest stuff that would also feel familiar. That way the readers can focus more on the story and less on the tech.”

Joining Millar and Murphy will be acclaimed colorist Matt Hollingsworth, and equally celebrated letterer Chis Eliopoulos

Chrononauts will launch its first four-issue arc in March, with plans to for at least two more series to follow. For your first look at Chrononauts, check out the exclusive preview art below.

Credit: Lewis Jacobs/NBC
Credit: Lewis Jacobs/NBC
Credit: Lewis Jacobs/NBC