Title: PAKNADEL & TRAKHANOV’S TURNCOAT #1
Written by: Alex Paknadel
Art by: Artyom Trakhanov, Jason Wordie, and Colin Bell
Published by: BOOM! Studios
Release Date: March 16, 2016
The latest comic from Boom! Studios, Turncoat is a surprisingly infectious read. With a unique art style and a story that grips you from the start, this new short series has quickly become one of my personal favorites. I picked it up by chance, drawn in by the gorgeous cover on this first issue. Its main character, Marta Gonzalez, is as much as a mystery as the one she is trying to solve. The story is written by Alex Paknadel and illustrated by Artyom Trakhanov, who use their combined talents to create an alluringly dark sci-fi feel for Turncoat.
Upon reading this first issue, you are immediately thrust into the environment in a disorienting manner. Marta’s world is a very different future, one where the Earth has been cast into chaos by the war against an alien race called Management. And it is uncertain which side of the fight Marta is on – which is clearly the point of this comic titled Turncoat. In fact, Marta herself seems to not know which side she has chosen, or perhaps she does not care. Her few friends are scattered all across the spectrum, from the a wanted man who became the mayor after the war, to a friendly drug dealer who also deals in information.
Paknadel and Trakhanov vividly create the world for their readers, one that is vibrant with detail. The slightest movement between panels becomes a whole new experience, and yet everything flows together well. Granted, I was a little confused at the beginning of the comic. Jumping straight into this world is no easy adjustment, and the abrupt nature of the events in Turncoat‘s beginning is a bit jarring, as I have said before. However, this first issue does a great job of keeping people interested, enough to get them through any moments of confusion. After my own brief disorientation, I was quickly hooked, and couldn’t have put Turncoat #1 down for anything.
Marta Gonzalez as the main character is interesting, namely because we know almost nothing about her. She was a cop working under Management, but then changed sides at the last minute, helping the resistance. She now deals with the ramifications of her actions, as she is hated by both factions. As someone who loves the Alias series and Marvel’s Jessica Jones, it was easy to notice the similarities between her and Marta. Marta often takes on the same stalwart, abrasive attitude, although she seems more prone to reach out to those she trusts. There are obvious similarities between the story of “falling from grace,” so to speak, as well as the move to investigative/detective work. Yet Marta Gonzalez is a character unique to herself. She speaks of a desire to seek the truth, to fill the empty void that seems to have been left in her life. And she does care about people deeply, as is seen from her interactions with her old partner and former informant.
The story that Paknadel and Trakhanov weave is a haunting one, asking big underlying questions from the start. Jason Wordie’s colors bring many of the scenes into a stark contrast and brighten the atmosphere, even while Turncoat becomes darker and darker. Even the inhabitant’s faces are amazingly detailed, with both lines and color providing a glimpse into who each person really is. With such a bleak, apocalyptic story, Trakhanov and Wordie together create a unique vision of Marta’s chaotic world.
Possibly one of my favorite techniques that Turncoat uses is the implementation of a circular insert, almost like a magnifying glass, to direct the reader’s eye. From the first panel, it brings our attention to little details and gives the comic a very real sense. We are able to notice the things that Marta notices, and that draws readers closer to identifying with her. It seems like a blatant technique, but in this case, it works well and plays off the investigative/mystery theme with grace.
Paknadel paces the plot well throughout Turncoat #1. The story continues to draw readers in over the course of the comic’s pages. Marta’s story slowly begins to make sense at the same time that the mystery of the missing child does, and by the last panel you will find yourself wanting to keep reading. At times it can seem like the mystery is moving along too quickly, but with Turncoat being a brief four-issue series, that could be expected. By the end of this first issue, I was already wishing for the next.
With such gorgeous and detailed artwork, Trakhanov and Wordie really impressed me. And Paknadel’s well-laid story will keep me waiting eagerly for the next installment. If it’s anything like Turncoat #1, it will be well worth the wait.
- Gripping story
- Beautiful artwork
- Brings deeper meaning to science fiction
- Can be confusing at beginning
- Packs a lot of content into one issue