Indie Comics Spotlight: Transience #1, Things You Shouldn’t Remember #1, and Magnus #1


By: Jonathan Pilley (@omnicomic)

Transience #1

Attacks on the public are nothing new and – sadly – happening more and more often. The consequences are often more physical in nature, but there are definitely more lasting psychological effects as well. In Transience, one such effect is anterograde amnesia. “United Kingdom” is written by Ricardo Mo and illustrated by Alberto Muriel; “United States” is written and illustrated by Natash Alterici; “Republic of Ireland” is written by Sam Read and illustrated by Cian Tormey; “Australia” is written by Ryan K. Lindsay and illustrated by Mark Lauthier; “Italy” is written by Kristen Grace and illustrated by Alex Diotto; “United States (second)” is written by Eric Grissom and illustrated by Will Perkins; and “Spain” is written by Ben Kahn and illustrated by Bruno Hidalgo.

Transience is set in a world where biological attacks have left large swathes of the population with anterograde amnesia – the inability to form new memories past a sleep cycle. The seven stories of Transience look at different people in different parts of the world as they deal with the effects of this at varying numbers of years after the event. There’s some hope, some loss, and some love. Each story features at least one creator from the country it’s set in. So, the Australian story features an Aussie creative team, the Spain story has a Spanish artist, and so on.

The premise behind Transience is very fascinating one in its approach of showing the impact of the attack by country and having creators from said country write the stories. This infuses the book with a sense of homegrown familiarity that allows the stories to hit the reader with a bit more emotional heft. Each of the stories looks at different impacted by the attack – for example, Lindsay’s story features a man being convinced by his wife that he’s a hero on a daily basis. The emotion behind each story is pretty subtle yet effective at hammering home the point that such an attack would have a devastating effect on the day-to-day of world. The overarching thread tying it all together is the shared response to the event; the lack of a more pervasive storyline is what gives it more of an anthology feel.

The artwork throughout Transience is very minimal, but used to maximum effect. Every story is illustrated in a similar, penciled style that allows the emotions of the story to carry the weight as opposed to the artwork. By relying on a simpler style, Transience delivers on the sense of emptiness that comes through the various realizations that the characters are essentially living the same day over and over again. Characters are defined by clean and concise linework set amidst spartan backgrounds in panel layouts that are very formal. And there’s really no color throughout the stories as each one is cast in one hue that emphatically sets the stage for the premise of the anthology.

Transience is a fascinating anthology that thrives on both its content and approach. The threat of biological terrorism is very real, but the consequences of the attack here is something very intriguing. The writers all tap into a different response to the attack, yet all of them share in common the fact that no matter what they do things will never be the same. The artwork is very clean and does an excellent job of lending a sense of normality to what is an otherwise unfamiliar situation. Transience is a great read to get a sense of how one global event affects individuals at a more local level.

Transience will be available soon.

Things You Shouldn’t Remember #1

There are things you try very hard to remember, things such as grocery lists, appointments, etc. There are other things you may remember that you don’t really know why you’re remembering them, such as song lyrics, for instance. Unlike in Things You Shouldn’t Remember #1 from Darby Pop Publishing, remembering the latter in your daily life won’t get you killed. The issue is written and lettered by Luis Roldan Torquemada, illustrated by Mariano Eliceche, and colored by Angel Lidon.

Dozens of people from all across the United States suddenly find themselves recalling random things: song lyrics, places, and events that seem to have been erased from both collective memory and recorded history. Fearing the spread of a virus-like plague, a mysterious group known as “The Handlers” is tasked with hunting and destroying those who recollect. But, does the end justify the means? And what if you were the one whose mind was unwittingly filled with things you shouldn’t remember? Things You Shouldn’t Remember serves up a cocktail of adventure, horror, and humor in a story that will keep you guessing…and make you wonder if your own memories should be trusted.

Collective memory is a fascinating thing and Torquemada leans into that in Things You Shouldn’t Remember #1 pretty violently. There’s a lot going on in the first issue, but Torquemada works to introduce the reader to the Handlers who are criss-crossing the country to deal with the newfound recollections. There’s some jumping around in the issue as Torquemada seeks to set the stage for the events and it all start to come together by the end of the issue. The dialogue is very matter of fact throughout the book and gets right to the point, but that doesn’t mean that Torquemada can’t have a little fun with it along the way. The overall premise of the book is presented pretty solidly in the first issue, even though Torquemada is a little stingy with some of the information off the bat.

Eliceche’s artwork gives the book something of a Quentin Tarantino vibe. For instance, the Handlers look like a pairing from a Tarantino movie in that they sport somewhat exaggerated features and appearances. Eliceche’s style is very sharp and angular that allows the characters to stand out more against the backgrounds. In fact, all the characters are illustrated in a way that feels as if they’re caricatures of people which lends a sense of outrageousness to the proceedings in general. Lidon’s colors further infuse the book with remnants of a disturbing alternate reality.

Things You Shouldn’t Remember #1 is a very provocative book in that it punishes ordinary people for remembering seemingly ordinary things. The reasoning for the Handlers still remains to be seen, but it’s expected that future issues will shine more light on their motivations. Torquemada’s script is a little jumpy at times as it moves from one setting to the other, but by the end of the issue themes start to emerge. Eliceche’s artwork is a good match for the content of the comic as it’s just a bit off-kilter. Things You Shouldn’t Remember #1 is an interesting read that gives readers a glimpse at a new concept that plays on familiar emotions.

Things You Shouldn’t Remember #1 will be available in August.

Magnus #1

AI is nice when it can turn on your lights or warm your house before you get home. AI isn’t so nice when it thinks it’s better than you and wants to do something about it. That’s where having someone like Dr. Kerri Magnus in Magnus #1 from Dynamite Comics is very helpful. The issue is written by Kyle Higgins, illustrated by Jorge Fornés, colored by Chris O’Halloran, and lettered by Taylor Esposito. The Turok back-up story written by Chuck Wendig, illustrated by Alvaro Sarrasecca, colored by Triona Farrell, and lettered by Taylor Esposito.

Do humans dream of owning electric sheep? Artificial intelligences, rather than becoming our overlords, have settled into an uneasy symbiosis with humanity – they work for us as our colleagues and servants, earning vacation time they spend in a boundless digital universe running on human-maintained server farms. But not all AIs are cool with the deal. Enter Magnus – a human psychologist tasked with navigating both worlds in order to bring recalcitrant AIs back into productive society … BONUS TUROK STORY! The all-new saga of the all-new Turok continues: He’s a man on a mission, possessed, and he won’t let anyone or anything get in his way!

Higgins seems to acknowledge the inevitable march to a world governed by AI and that’s what makes Magnus #1 work so well. There are two components to the issue: the first emphasizes the revolt simmering under the surface for the AI servants; the second is the role Dr. Kerri Magnus plays in bridging the gap between human and AI. Dr. Magnus is something of an AI-whisperer and Higgins smartly funnels the story through her involvement. Higgins doesn’t race to drop Magnus on the reader; instead, he methodically builds up to her introduction and further involvement with the events as they unfold throughout the issue. The dialogue enforces a very clear divide between human and AI sense of morality wrapped around a pretty straightforward whodunnit of sorts.

Fornés’ artwork successfully blends together characters that are both human and AI in nature. This gives the entire issue a unified approach that lends itself well to the overarching premise that the two are co-existing in a relatively uneasy state of hostile tranquility. Fornés illustrates the book with a tenseness in the panels that reinforces that combustibility and reminds the reader that not every character in the issue is born naturally. There’s even a throwback to some of comics’ more pulp sensibilities in the issue in the way that Fornés frames some of the character perspectives. O’Halloran chose a pretty simple and muted color palette to finish the book that helps engender a different atmosphere for the reader to be transported to while reading.

Magnus #1 isn’t exactly treading new ground in its approach, but what it does offer is still very strong and enjoyable. Dr. Magnus is a rarity in the world of Magnus #1 and is being tasked with quelling a simmering battle. Higgins’ script is a slow and fantastic build-up to its main goal. Fornés’ artwork is rife with characters expressive of a variety of emotions, all of which come together for a more cohesive tale. Magnus #1 is a great first issue that nails everything it’s going for while getting reader set up for more.

Magnus #1 is available now.

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