Translucid is finally catching back up to the place where it started in more ways than one. This is the penultimate issue, and a lot of things are coming to a head; I’m in a good place as a reader with this issue, because I trust the team to wrap things up even though they’ve left a whole lot of wrapping up to do. We see more of Cornelius’ childhood in this issue in the aftermath of his mother’s attempt to kill them both. He’s been moved to the somewhat stereotypical dreary Catholic orphanage in town, where he becomes the protector of an abused boy. During all of his scenes of heroism and loss in this issue, we’re exposed to the Navigator’s compass insignia and costume designs that Cornelius is working on. Meanwhile, we move back to the present (I think that’s the timeline situation we’re in), where the Navigator has just watched the Horse blow up the Empire State Building. The Horse continues mainlining LSD through the Navigator’s veins and moves him to the location of what can only be their final battle of wits.
Like I said, lotta stuff to catch up by the end of the next issue. Did Cornelius become the Navigator? Did Cornelius possibly become the Horse and then invent the Navigator? The series itself seems to be bearing down on the question of what makes a superhero a superhero. Can they exist without pain and suffering to drive them? Can there truly be a happy person who dedicates their entire existence to helping others? I’m not sure Echert, Sanchez and Bayliss are out to answer those questions, but as Chekhov would have said, it’s not their job to answer the questions, they just have to ask the right ones.
I don’t generally like to quote from issues I’m reviewing, but I one of the captions in this issue sums up the whole thing it seems Echert, Sanchez and Bayliss are trying to say. At one point, they refer to superheroes as “[l]iving archetypes of every child’s imagination.” These people in capes and elaborate costumes are not the kind of societal construct that would spring from a fully-formed mind, they are primary colored fantasy people living in a primary colored fantasy world. In a lot of ways, that makes the LSD-nightmare scenarios that the Navigator is witnessing that much more real to him than the more realistic scenes that we’re seeing with Cornelius in the boys’ home.
The art on this series continues to astonish. Bayliss’ style keeps getting smoother and more economical without losing its raw edge as it progresses issue to issue. He’s had at least one big set piece per issue to go nuts and create some sort of hellish monster (which at this point seems like they’ve all been LSD nightmares that are breaking their way back into Cornelius’ memories during the events of the first issue), but this issue, the Horse ups the dosage and Bayliss steps his game right up with it. It’s been nothing short of fantastic, and as this series starts to come to a close, I can’t wait to see what he does next. If some other opportune creative team doesn’t reach out to him immediately, they are leaving my theoretical money on the table.
If you haven’t been reading Translucid, I wouldn’t say this is a good spot to jump on by any means. You’re only one issue away from the end, so at this point, you’re better off trade-waiting. But know this: you have been missing out on a pure visual joy with a lot of salient points about superheroics in the mix. If Alan Moore was to try and tackle a Watchmen-style deconstruction of the genre in 2014, he might latch onto the Batman/Joker dynamic and make something similar to this. Luckily, Bayliss, Echert and Sanchez have it well in hand.
Writers: Claudio Sanchez & Chondra Echert Artist: Daniel Bayliss Publisher: BOOM! Studios Price: $3.99 Release Date: 8/20/14 Format: Mini-Series; Print/Digital