Transference is a series with ambition to spare, shooting for Mission: Impossible and landing somewhere around there, with a hint of Inception and James Bond thrown in for good measure. The story picks up from last month’s reveal that Colton is in a divergent timeline from his home timeline; where he has been clean and sober for 3 years, is still married and has a son in that timeline, in this timeline, he’s still an inveterate alcoholic and kind of an asshole. He approaches an old spy friend to help him track down information about himself and Cyril Ormon, the kidnapped inventor. They go on a few spy movie adventures in Madison Square Park and some secret labs, culminating in a creepy and resonant chase through a mannequin storage facility (lots of empty bodies without a mind), before another big reveal about the divergent timelines.
Transference #2 does a lot of heavy lifting in terms of bringing the reader up to date on the technology and the mechanics of time travel in the world. Kanan, Colton’s tech guy, displays the advanced time travel tech from the terrorists, and explains that time travel happens in three dimensions (i.e. that when you travel in time, you also end up in the same physical location as when you started), and makes it very clear that the bad guys have the better weapons in this scenario. When Colton interrogates one, he also reveals that if his body in the past dies, his mind will just jump back to his body in the present; it seems paradoxical, but we’re led to believe it.
The thematic meat of Transference really starts to come to the fore in this issue, as well. On a surface level, sure, this book is Mission: Impossible if Ethan Hunt had a Van Dyke and could time-travel to stop terrorists; but at its core, this book is about the hollowness of lives lived in the past. Colton is haunted by past mistakes, bodies abandoned or killed in the past become nothing but husks, and the entire first issue was spent trying to make the rich and powerful feel better about themselves by fixing their little mistakes. It’s sort of a high-octane version of Seconds, and the double-edged sword of living in the past and letting your “should have”s rule your life. Salas and Bonvillain do an amazing job at the end with the fight between Colton and the man who was tailing him: it’s set in a mannequin factory, and these two men who have no past, whose foundations have been obliterated, are surrounded by these empty, expressionless representations of people. It’s sneaky, and it’s so well illustrated that it hits you while you’re not even looking--the sign of a scene truly coming together in a comic.
Salas and Bonvillain are doing stellar work all around, here. Salas’ clean linework lends itself to things like the Brooklyn Bridge in the opening sequence, and the New York architecture running throughout the issue, while Bonvillian’s dreamy colors add a sense of weight, and even a sense of unreality to the entire proceedings. Bonvillain’s colors especially also remind me of Amanda Scurti and Tyler Boss’ color work on sister Black Mask title We Can Never Go Home; it gives them almost a house style of a fever dream of America. One where teens have superpowers and use them to kill their parents and fight off bullies, one where you can go back and fix any mistake in your past and hope you don’t ruin the future.
This issue definitely wowed me, and after a lukewarm review of the first one, I’m ready to dive into the rest of Transference with eager eyes. If only I could go back in time and re-score that last review...