This series had two things going for it before I ever picked it up: Alex Paknadel writer of Arcadia and Artyom Trakhanov the artist from Image Comics’ Undertow. Now I will say that I’m not a fan of the title, but after going through something similar with BOOM!’s Diesel series, I’m going to guess that it has a legal reason for that. Which is a shame because Turncoat really is the perfect title for this story and exactly what I’ll be referring to it as going forward. As for the issue’s story… hold on to your hat because like Arcadia Paknadel has created a very complicated world that takes a while to explain. I’m not going to explain all of it since the issue does an amazing job of that, but I’ll give you the highlights.
Earth has been under alien rule for 300 hundred years. Our story picks up as the rebellion against the aliens have driven them from earth. This is apparently thanks to one police officer that turned on the aliens, which I should mention are called “Management.” Marta, our main character and turncoat, wakes up in a hospital bed to be visited by the man she was turning over information to. He walks her to the roof to watch the exodus happen and sets the stage for the rest of Marta’s life… basically both sides are going to hate her.
The story then jumps five years later because seeing how society rebuilt itself is honestly boring and far too real. Marta is now a private eye and wouldn’t you know it… she’s hated by everyone. At this point the story becomes a bit heavy on the P.I. trope, but the setting is what makes it stand out. Marta is hired by a rich old woman to find her son. The catch is that in this world there was at one-point hybrids between Management and humans, but the offspring turned into monsters after ten years. Just so happens that the boy Marta is looking for hasn’t been photographed since he was ten.
The rest of the book is Marta ruffling feathers and looking for the boy. It gives the reader a clear insight into how she lives and how the world is. In a strange way it’s like a North and South civil war in which one half of the populace really liked Management and miss them, while the other half hated them. Now they’re at each other’s necks because the power positions have changed and while everyone wants to pretend they can accept the people that were chummy with Management, it’s hard to do so.
Paknadel does some incredible world building here. He starts by giving you a quick look at the status quo before blowing it up. What’s crazy is that the status quo is a complex and interesting world on its own, but then he creates a world that’s more complex by having a society putting itself back together and dealing with this spilt between them.
There was one and only one line that bothered me. When the old woman is first meeting Marta she talks about her sign which has English and Management language and Marta’s rebuttal is “how many English exclusive signs do you think were in this neighborhood before management?” Which is actually a great point and a great line… but we’re 5 years after a 300-year alien occupation and I just don’t know how Marta would know that? For all it does, the writing stumbles here because it doesn’t establish whether there are other languages still being spoken. I know it’s super minor, but it rubbed me the wrong way for some reason.
As for Trakhanov’s part in the story, his art has improved since Undertow. His work there was at times too think and loose, whereas here it’s gritty but not overpowered by the linework. The color and detail come through in a big way. The art also establishes that this is the future and a very different one then what we’ve seen in comics as of late. Management had organic based technology and so there’s a lot of just plant looking stuff that’s growing around the city. That and some people have Management’s tech attached to them in strange ways.
Jason Wordie compliments Trakhanov’s artwork and brings it back from the brink of being too gritty. The color palette is very diverse and plays a role in making the story actually feel as if it’s in the future. The earth seems different because of the coloring and that plays into the story.
Even though I recognized the creators right away, I still went into this issue with zero expectations. You never know how two creators will work together and even more uncertain is how a four issue mini-series will turn out. Given how much I enjoyed this first issue I’ll be sticking around for the next three.
Paknadel & Trakhanov’s Turncoat #1 Writer: Alex Paknadel Artist: Artyom Trakhanov Colorist: Jason Wordie Publisher: BOOM! Studios Price: $3.99 Release Date: 3/16/16 Format: Mini-Series; Print/Digital