Written and Created by: Claudio Sanchez and Chondra Echert
Illustrated by: Daniel Bayliss
Colored By: Adam Metcalfe
Lettered By: Ed Dukeshire
Translucid is a tale of codependency. Not a tale of a man and woman sharing a codependent relationship, but an otherwise unspoken tale of codependency between a hero and his arch villain. It’s hinted at throughout comic-dom, sometimes it’s very blatant; that’s you Batman and Joker, get a damn room already. At times, they can’t seem to exist without each other. Typically it is the villain who feels this way, that they somehow fill this void in the hero’s life that would otherwise be left empty and then who knows what would happen to the hero. It’s a common theme of dependent relationships. Translucid dares to ask what would happen if it were flipped, if the hero needed the villain.
The Batman and Joker parallels run pretty deep throughout this issue. The Navigator, our hero, uses gadgets and gizmos without any perceivable superpower except maybe money. He can be spotted, standing silhouetted against the night sky, cape blowing behind him in familiar fashion. All he’s missing is some pointy ears and a batarang. This isn’t a detriment though. Honestly, the parallels help bring the point home. The Horse, the villain of the story, wears suits and plays with hallucinogens to drug the hero. They’re telling a story that we’ve all read countless times but with a tilted point of view. The familiarity builds their relationship up in the reader’s head quickly and I can’t help but wonder if Claudio Sanchez and Chondra Echert knew what they were doing, because if so then it was borderline genius.
The Navigator can’t seem to operate properly without The Horse, who by the end we find out The Navigator considers his only friend. The story as a whole is very well crafted for a first issue. Overall, the dialogue flowed well and the characters were clearly defined. The writing wasn’t the only thing to stand out though, the interior art by the team of Daniel Bayliss and colorist Adam Metcalfe is outstanding. I can’t quite pin down Bayliss’s style, it tends to blend a couple of others, including James Stokoe, but without the overly detailed linework. What really makes the art sing though is Adam Metcalfe’s color work. The use of blues, greens, reds and purples in the comic give it a vaguely trippy feel that explodes in the final panels.
As with most new hero and villain comics, costume design is important. Dan Duncan, who has worked on IDW’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comic (#1-#12) and is a current storyboarder for Marvel’s animation division, designed the looks for The Navigator and The Horse. The designs borrow from various characters throughout comics but they manage to feel fresh. The Navigator’s design feels like a mixture of Iron Man, Batman, and Moon Knight. It works really well, the tech used is a bit more advanced than what you’d find on Batman. The Horse feels fairly classic, well as much as a man with sturdy horse mask in a suit can be classic. The designs contrast each other, further playing up the dichotomy of the two characters.
Translucid is a stellar first issue that has me very eager to see where it goes. They’re exploring a particularly favorite subject of mine, the relationship of a villain and hero so perhaps I’m a bit biased. Sanchez, Echert, Bayliss, Metcalfe, Duncan and Boom! Studios might have a quiet hit on their hands and I can’t wait till the next issue.
Dylan Tano is a bit of an enigma wrapped in an answer sheet. Part of a subterranean culture most of his life, that may or may not have been mole people, he finds almost every bit of the surface world’s “pop culture” fascinating. When he’s not musing over whatever Nick Hanover tells him to muse over, he’s the creative director for Keystoke, where he designs web pages and things. You can find some of his old writing in the Comics Bulletin archives where he first learned of the concept of pain and loss, and no longer contributes to as a result. They say on particularly cold nights you can hear him digging in the yard to get back to the warmth of his people.