It was new comic book day yesterday. What’d folks get? What’d you enjoy? What’d you dislike? Sound off in the comments below! While you decide on that, here’s some comic news and reviews from around the web in our morning roundup.
Written by Alex Paknadel (Arcadia, Assassin’s Creed) and illustrated by Artyom Trakhanov (Undertow, American Vampire), Paknadel & Trakhanov’s Turncoat is a gripping exploration of the sociopolitical ramifications of occupation in a post-war civilization where the transition from oppression to emancipation is anything but clean.
It’s been three hundred years since humanity was brutally subjugated by the alien race known as Management—and two years since these invaders abandoned Earth to return to their home world.
Following her participation in the brutal massacre that caused Management’s withdrawal, resistance fighter Marta Gonzalez is riddled with guilt. Rather than join the new human government, she starts her own private detective agency.
When a missing persons case lands on her desk, Gonzalez is forced to confront her own bloody past as she delves into the seedy underworld that’s bloomed after the alien departure.
Paknadel & Trakhanov’s Turncoat is an example of the dangers of mixed-genre, a story somewhat driven by its own clichés but in a manner that it is not at all certain where those clichés belong. However, it is entirely possible that some of this confusion could be undone with a different writer/artist pairing.
Marta Gonzalez fought in the war between Earth and the alien-insect presence known as the Management. Pushing back against their occupation, Marta betrayed Management and mankind repelled their forces. However, humanity felt her contribution was more based in her need to be on the winning side, so neither the human resistance or Management see her as anything but a traitor. With the war ten years over, Marta is now a private investigator seeking a missing child, one she believes may be a hybrid between humans and Management.
This is a great example of a story that stubs its toe right out the gate. It’s exposition-heavy, leading with the end of the war. Yet it’s exposition is not entirely clear. The reader understands there was a war, but with whom is entirely uncertain. Though everything seems whimsical or sci-fi, i.e. floating castles (or maybe they were space ships) and the human-alien integration (or maybe they were all human and some of them just look extremely different than the others), you’re never really sure what you’re supposed to be taking in. Artist and co-creator Artyom Trakhanov is one of the most enjoyable talents working today. His work is imaginative and wildly colorful. However, his style with this part-Blade Runner, part-Maltese Falcon story only adds to the disorientation. It seems everything would have been better served starting the story with Marta receiving the case, hinting at her backstory and saving the scenes from the war for later issues when everything else is firmly in motion.
In fact, the art and the script almost seem to be in violent competition with each other. Trakhanov’s inks and colors want to tell a bold fantasy while writer and co-creater Alex Paknadel’s script wants to tell a hard-boiled detective story. Down to lines like “This stinks like motel bed sheets and you know it”, Marta and her narration desperately want to be in a very different kind of story than the one we find them in. If the art matched, it would be much easier to take in the clues being presented to the reader. As it stands, it was hard to tell if the reader was being offered clues or just tremendously stylized visuals.
Let’s take a moment to give Artyom Trakhanov his due, though. Anyone looking to expand their mind beyond the normal, paint-by-numbers approach of many books, should seek out his work here or in Image’sUndertow. He is a brilliant, inspiring talent and every page he offers rewards reflection and consideration. Everyone would benefit with a bit more of dynamic, chromatic storytelling.
The art and story simply trip over each other rather than building one and other.
Story: Alex Paknadel Art: Artyom Traknhanov
Story: 5 Art: 8 Overall: 6
Recommendation: Pass (unless you simply want to bask in the glory of the art)
BOOM! Studios provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review
300 years since humanity was brutally subjugated by the alien race known simply as the Management. Two years since these invaders abandoned Earth to return to their home world. Following her participation in the brutal massacre of human-alien hybrids left behind by the Management, resistance fighter Marta Gonzalez declines to join the new human government and starts her own private detective agency instead. Gonzalez is forced to confront her own bloody past and acknowledge the fact that the transition from oppression to emancipation is anything but clean.