Michael Moreci is one of the busiest up-and-comers in the comics business right now. Between Burning Fields, Roche Limit, Hoax Hunters and now Transference, he’s not only got four series going, he’s got four series going at four different publishers. That’s impressive as hell. And Transference is a good new entry in his oeuvre. Colton and his team have one job: Maintain the Timeline. People can hire them to find out if they really should have broken up with their girlfriend, or they can hire them to go and remove people from their lives (no killing--too much risk to the timeline). When they’re sent back in time to rescue the inventor of time travel from a terrorist, they discover that they’re not the only ones messing with the timeline.
Ron Salas is someone whose work I’m not super familiar with. I’ve seen him around Tumblr and I’ve seen some of his work in anthologies, but this is my first experience with a full-length piece by him. I dig what I’m seeing. He’s got a strong sense of composition and panelling, and he works very well with Bonvillain’s colors. This is a book that benefits from a strong sense of design, as well, and that’s one area where Salas and Bonvillain particularly shine. There’s a sequence at the beginning with a train crash where Salas uses off-kilter panelling to get the chaos across, and at the end, there’s a solid use of color to tie back into the multi-timeline theme.
Moreci’s pacing works well, but this book was one I had to read twice. There’s a lot of jumping around in time, circular narrative patterns, and consciously withheld information that I was pretty sure I got the whole thing when I picked it up, but still. Twice around on a story about time travel isn’t the end of the world. I’m intrigued by the plot, but it falls on a couple somewhat lazy tropes. The most glaring example to me was the use of a Middle Easterner as the main villain; it can be justified (one that sticks out for me is Greg Rucka’s Alpha/Bravo series of novels), but you have to place it in a worldview where it doesn’t come off as a fifteen-year-old grudge. I’m intrigued to see where this villain came from, but for a publisher that prides itself on being progressive and anarchic, is that the most interesting angle?
Also, as a stray aside, there’s a moment where several highly-trained, world-traveled agents don’t recognize subway maps as subway maps, and that took me right out of the story for a minute.
All in all, I like where this story is going. It’s an interesting twist on the time traveling secret agent story, and it does a good job grounding the story in a personal conflict. It keeps it from getting too Mission: Impossible and gives it a human core, and that’s what I like to see in a story like this. I’m looking forward to next month’s issue, and in the meantime, I’ll probably end up picking up volume one of Roche Limit just to see what’s up.
Transference #1 Writer: Michael Moreci Artist: Ron Salas Colorist: Tamra Bonvillain Letterer: Jim Campbell Publisher: Black Mask Studios Price: $3.99 Release Date: 7/8/15 Format: Mini-Series; Print/Digital