Review - Turncoat #1 (@boomstudios)

"Management have many arms with which to give and take."

The tides of war are prone to ebb and flow at a moment's notice. What that means is that even the smallest decision can have a massive impact. Such an impact makes for good reading in Turncoat #1 from BOOM! Studios. The issue is written by Alex Paknadel, illustrated by Artyom Trakhanov, colored by Jason Wordie and lettered by Colin Bell.

300 years since humanity was brutally subjugated by the alien race known simply as the Management. Two years since these invaders abandoned Earth to return to their home world. Following her participation in the brutal massacre of human-alien hybrids left behind by the Management, resistance fighter Marta Gonzalez declines to join the new human government and starts her own private detective agency instead. Gonzalez is forced to confront her own bloody past and acknowledge the fact that the transition from oppression to emancipation is anything but clean.

Marta Gonzalez is an interesting protagonist for Turncoat #1, largely because she lives up to the title's namesake in some regards. Paknadel is unapologetic when it comes to characterizing her as such, relying on the disdain of those around her to make her life more challenging. The world she inhabits is akin to any such world that's the result of a war where the dominant force makes a retreat, but Paknadel doesn't really flesh it out more than that. What's interesting though is the reader gets a sense of the way things were primarily through characters interacting with Marta. Paknadel fills the dialogue with plenty of mythos to give the reader a sense of atmosphere and history behind the current struggles faced in the book.

The style of illustration by Trakhanov is grimy. There's a vague approach taken in rendering the characters and Trakhanov seems content to leave things somewhat ambiguous throughout the book. Character detail is lost in grim lighting and distant perspectives that applies a dilapidated filter to the pages. Some of the earlier pages boast panels that feel loosely defined, yet Trakhanov gives the artwork a more complete and rigid feel later in the book with clearly defined panels. The colors by Wordie also feel equally as washed out and provides a sense of despair for the world, despite the fact that the former masters have abandoned the planet.

Turncoat #1 capitalizes on the notion that changing sides in a war bears consequences--regardless of when it's done. Marta is essentially a pariah for providing valuable information that ended the war and her new quest that sets the direction for the rest of the series will suffer because of it. The first issue is fairly light in terms of completely explaining the backstory behind the Management, but it's clear that future issues will get into this further via Marta's latest mission. Trakhanov's artwork is ambiguous in a way that reinforces the notion of desperation on the part of the planet's inhabitants when jubilation might be more appropriate. Turncoat #1 is the first issue in a series in a fascinating new world centered on an investigation by Marta into a past that some might not want light shed on.

Turncoat #1 is in stores now.