By Michael Moreci & Ron Salas
Transference opens with what appears to be an overly familiar narrative sequence. Three espionage agents are driving through France. They are searching for an enigmatic terrorist named Fasad. Team leader Colton is weary of this mission, though. They have no intel on Fasad, while he seems to know way too much about them. This is not how it normally works. Something is askew. So far, so good. We have all seen this type of story play out in one form or another before. Suddenly, though, a commuter train explodes into flames, and Agent Jordon is shouting warnings about preserving the time line. Colton and associates are no longer standard issue spies.
After this prologue, the story flashes back to the present. Moreci gives readers a taste of how Colton normally operates. He has been charged with making sure that an entitled rich man allows his wife to leave him. See, she wishes to pursue her own life, become a heart surgeon, a heart surgeon which one day will save the life of a very important patient. That individual’s life cannot be put in jeopardy. In such a way, Moreci introduces into his story issues of causality, along with questions of destiny. These quandaries only become more pronounced as the narrative continues to unfold.
It would seem that Dr. Cyril Ormon, the inventor of time travel technology, was not as dead as once believed. Sources indicate that the body presumed to be his was actually a badly disfigured decoy. Instead the scientist has been held captive by Fasad. Naturally, this has caused concern within the agency. If Fasad, or anyone really, gains access to workable time travel tech, then Colton’s job gets much more complicated. He and his colleagues are used to having an advantage over any rivals: only they can jump from one year to another. What happens when others can do so as well? Who even are the others? Nations? Stateless groups? The fact that no one has any facts on Fasad does not make the situation any more reassuring.
In fact, Colton has been increasingly disorientated of late. Constants of his private life have been reversed. Whoever this Fasad may be, he seems to be striking at Colton personally. Does he bare a grudge against the agent, or is he simply tripping up Colton so that he is unable to focus on his job?
This is an intriguing set-up full of character drama which also broaches on some compelling themes. The discussions of time travel technology are reminiscent of those involving nuclear weapons. Everything is fine as long as only the “good guys” have them. However what happens once they falls into less well-intentioned hands? Could anyone ever have been trusted with it anyway? Once you start fiddling around in the time stream, can you truly control what the outcome might be? I am curious to see how Moreci explores these ideas as the series progresses.
Ron Salas provides a minimalistic art style which is a good fit for the book. His clear figural sense makes sure that the characters do not get lost amidst the dynamic action. Particularly powerful is the image of Colton sitting in his car, the burning wreckage of the commuter train reflected in his window.
Overall, this is a solid debut, which promises to add another strong title to Black Mask’s line.
Transference #1 will be released by Black Mask Studios on Wednesday, July 8th