Comics Features Reviews

Transmissions #1 Packs in a Slick Blend of Espionage and Horror

TPub Comics return to Kickstarter once again with a new graphic novel; Transmissions. We were granted a sneak peek at #1 of their latest title, The Numbers Station, and found it to be a cool, effective packaging of spy-thriller concepts pinned down by a snarling horror motif that binds everything together. From writer/letterer Jed McPherson, artist Marco Perugini, colourist Shannon Bennion, and editor Neil Gibson, Transmissions #1 boasts a confident, driven tone, bolstered by some truly exquisite and evocative artwork.

TPub are well-experienced in producing genre-heavy titles, and Transmissions #1 bears that recognisable stamp of TPub authenticity at its heart. Having covered science fiction, fantasy, horror and child-friendly concepts throughout their comics, TPub continues to expand its horizons by tapping into Cold War lore and spy-tinged action with Transmissions #1. Jed’s story bursts with recognisable ideas of spy fiction, but its avoids any cliched pitfalls via the story’s layered execution and subtle injections of horror. The story depicts world-weary British SIS agent Charlie Stratford and code-breaker Sasha, who’s investigation into a mass shooting at a major city bank sees them journey down a Cold War rabbit hole via the only tangible clue – a cryptic radio transmission that infects its listeners. There’s something delightfully TPub-ish about a premise of a killer radio!

The story is where Transmissions‘ slickness comes into full effect. Jed pulls from the spy-fiction songbook to craft an enticing narrative that sets up the players of the tale, and suggesting a wider menace lurking within the story, piece by piece. He hits all the right spots that an opening issue should do in order to hook the reader in.

As if to counteract this, Perugini’s art. He draws Transmissions #1 with a rugged zest. Complimenting the comic’s undertones of horror, Perugini’s art is riddled with sharp, disturbed depictions of characters, yet he retains a sense of recognisable humanity in Transmissions‘ players. The real star of Transmissions #1 however is Shannon’s colours. She bathes The Numbers Station in something of an anti-elegant colour palette. The Numbers Station‘s mystery radio signals that pollute its listeners to commit acts of terror gives way to a wider theme of psychological manipulation, which Shannon translates from script to art with a ravenous edge. She establishes distinct visual vibes for each of the comic’s scenes by giving each setting its own dominating colour, whilst the glaring danger of the comic’s arching horror device is enjoyably constant throughout the issue.

Transmissions #1‘s panel structure is where its creativity falters. Such is the slickness of the comic itself, that the compacted panels, often square or rectangular, adhere to a strict lens with which the reader views the comic through. The structure is kicked into life somewhat via The Numbers Station‘s explosive opening sequence and its tense cliffhanger ending, but within the remainder of the comic itself, it feels overly formal. It’s an odd move that doesn’t entirely compliment Shannon and Marco’s art, and ultimately gives Transmissions #1 a claustrophobic visual atmosphere.

Despite these flaws, Transmissions #1 hints at an enigmatic yet full-throttle thriller to come in future issues. It remains to be seen whether or not that horror motif remains intact, however. Knowing how TPub like to implement a devilish twist into their comics, the stage is set for Transmissions to be a well-tuned venture into blistering spy-fi action.

Will you be backing Transmissions on Kickstarter? You can read the first issue for free via TPub’s website. Let us know in the comments section below or send us a Tweet!

About the author

Fred McNamara