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Under New Management

Turncoat #1 (review)
BOOM! Studios, March 2016
Writer: Alex Paknadel
Review by Neil Raymundo, 25 March 2016

“Turncoat” on the face of it is a run-of-the-mill detective story with a female protagonist. Marta Gonzales is a down-on-her-luck retired policewoman trying to make ends meet as a private investigator. Her latest case involves a rich kid who ran away a decade ago and fell in with the seedy underground.

What differentiates this title from routine detective tales is that the case is actually a minor detail in a much bigger, and more interesting story, and further, “Turncoat” is a science fiction story with a fascinating backdrop.

The protagonist has a reputation as the turncoat referred to in the title. She was a ranking officer in the establishment. But for reasons unrevealed in the first issue, she had a change of heart and gave away vital information to a rival faction. This information resulted in a key victory and the then-ruling power – dubbed “the Management” – leaving the Earth.

The Management leaving Earth.
The Management leaving Earth.

Who “the Management” were is not clear. The comic hints that they are not human and most likely extraterrestrial. The event of their retreat is depicted by way of numerous large spaceships rising from the ground. What is clear was that they were in power before the start of the comic, governing the Earth using a human administrative body. Those humans serving as a police force were the wealthy human elite who enjoyed power and status under the Management’s rule.

Marta’s current case involves one of these wealthy former elite. But it gets more interesting as details about the missing person is revealed. This person is “a hybrid,” a term used to refer to the subjects of a program that was designed to bridge the cultural gap between the Management and humans. The program produced normal looking children that mutated upon reaching adulthood.

Only something went wrong. The nature of the mutations made the hybrids an embarrassment to both species. Almost all of the hybrids were eventually killed although the writer, Alex Paknadel, has not yet revealed whether it was the Management or the humans who were responsible.

The issue ends with a glimpse of one of these hybrids. They seem to possess abilities beyond normal humans, but whether this specific hybrid is the missing person or not might not be the most significant part of the story, as the hybrid dies through gunshot on the last panel. There are still bigger mysteries to tackle, such as why there is a surviving hybrid when they were supposed to be wiped out. Little details point to a conflict boiling underneath between pro-Management and anti-Management humans who are now forced to rebuild society. It is also possible that the Earth has not yet seen the last of the Management.

In the center of these things is the protagonist Marta, and with three more issues remaining we still have a lot of room to explore where she will really fit in and where her true allegiances will lie. Mr Paknadel is engaging in some entertaining world-building in the guise of a detective murder mystery. We look forward to seeing this story unfold.