Webcomic Athena Wheatley flings a pre-Civil War inventor to the wacky year 9283

When time travelers find themselves in a distant future era, they're usually time travelers from our own time — or from the (Edit: later) Victorian or Edwardian eras, if we're feeling particularly steampunk. But Sylvan Migdal's webcomic The Adventures of Athena Wheatley, or, Warp & Weft sends a time-traveling scientist from 1841 Baltimore to Earth's strange distant future. And Athena has to worry about more than her new transhuman home; she's been followed by a rival inventor looking to take credit for her time machine.

Migdal is also the creator of Curvy, the NSFW webcomic of a girl and a licorice-flavored princess being chased through the multiverse, and like Curvy, Athena Wheatley is filled with wonderfully alien visuals, and funny little gags tucked into the corners. After having a strange (and possibly premonitory) dream about a distant apocalypse, Athena decides to test out her time machine, planning on sending herself a few minutes into the future. A few minutes turns out to be a few thousand years, as Athena is nabbed from the spacetime corridor by corporate agents monitoring disruptions in causality. Athena wisely flees her captors and soon finds herself under the care of Dave, a red-skinned graphic designer, and her best friend Twan, an animatronic angel who acts out mythologically inaccurate biblical scenes at the local museum. The corporation is still looking for Athena, however, and now they have the help of Dr. Moultrie, another Baltimore scientist who followed Athena into the future.

Although much of Athena Wheatley's humor comes from the transtemporal misunderstandings (Twan misinterprets the historical notion that Athena's era is obsessed with sex to hilarious effect, and the museum's Renaissance display contains mainly paintings of Ninja Turtles), there's still the sense that the more Earth has changed, the more it has stayed the same. Dave's graphic design clients are still idiots. Twan is still hesitant to ask for a few days off. And then there are Migdal's funny little background jokes — that Dave works in the Justin Bieber building, that Jay-Z/Beatles mashups are as much about music as about DNA, that in New Earth City, buildings are sometimes sit on the backs of giant crustaceans. In fact, there's a distinct Futurama quality to Migdal's comic.

Despite the alieness of this future world, Athena Wheatley is sure to become master of her new domain. After all, she's invented time travel, something people in the distant future thought might not even exist. Even if she comes from the year 1841, Athena may well be the smartest person in the future.

[Athena Wheatley — occasionally NSFW]