July 8, 2015

, , , , ,   |  

Transference #1 by Michael Moreci, Ron Salas and Tamra Bonvillain

Written by Michael Moreci
Illustrated by Ron Salas
Coloured by Tamra Bonvillain
Lettered by Jim Campbell
Published by Black Mask
Time travel is often introduced into a story as innovative idea with the subsequent adventures exploring the consequences of utilising the technology. It is therefore a refreshing change to read a story where vanishing into the time stream has become the core of a company's business model. This first issue introduces our team of corporate time travellers and takes us through one of their missions as it starts to go awry. The group is lead by the enigmatic Colton with backup from the seemingly hot-headed Jordan. A recent addition to the team is the fresh-faced Sommes and, through him, we get the answers about the day-to-day workings of the company.

This series drops you instantly into the action through the use of a non-linear narrative. We're introduced to the team and immediately get hit with the significance of what they're trying to do. This prologue raises the tension as we are then thrown off-balance as our characters attempt to work out how their mission has gone so wrong.

A common and fair criticism of time travel stories is their convoluted nature. While it is still early days for the series, it is introduced in a very concise and understandable way. The mechanism for time-travel has been left ambiguous at this point which prevents the series from getting bogged down in the technical details and allows the focus to be put on the events themselves.

Salas has the perfect artistic style for a story with this kind of narrative. As this comic seems to be aim towards an inter-personal drama rather than anything supernatural or fantasy based, each character needs to be instantly recognisable. From the main team's initial introduction to the gradual establishment of their co-workers at their company building, everyone's design is completely distinct.

The colouring pallet selected by Bonvillain is a wide array of flat colours. It simplifies each scene and grounds the series into a relatable world despite the complex nature of the story being told. The colours shift cleanly from dark scenes to daytime scenes and even to a segment with a fire raging in the background. There's also some very nice, fun and effective, sound effects lettering from Jim Campbell.

While Colton is primarily portrayed as the stoic leader of the group, there are a few moments dedicated to unravelling the façade that he puts out. The mission quickly becomes personal for him, which introduces a compelling new layer to the series that will hopefully gain a greater focus as time goes on. This adds depth to each subsequent reread as you notice the hints that something has gone wrong before it is actually revealed. This inspires confidence that Moreci is aware of the importance of the subtle details and will continue to include them for readers who pay strict attention.

By allowing us to see the team at their worst with everything falling apart around them, the creative team have introduced a fascinating uphill struggle for them to fight against. With hints that their company might not be what it seems, there is a complex mystery to unravel. In the upcoming issues, the time-travelling team will have to get deeper and deeper into the company's sordid past to get back to any semblance of normality.

With zero previous experience of any Black Mask comics, this series has put the publisher as a clear and confident blip on my radar. By approaching time-travel from the perspective of a long-standing corporation, Moreci and Salas have created a fresh and exciting story that manages to remain grounded in its personal interactions. I can see massive things coming from this series and I'm going to be following it for as long as I can.