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Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Transient: Homeless Heroes Save San Francisco From Space Invaders

Posted By on Wed, Feb 15, 2012 at 9:30 AM


Transient is like a batshit guy on the street telling you exactly why and how rain is seeded with pore-burrowing nanobots -- one of the craziest things I've seen in a while. It's the debut of Justin "Coro" Kaufman, a monster of a book -- an oblong, full-color graphic novel bound in heavy covers. And, just like the homeless person, you really can't be sure what it'll do next.

The "homeless guy" motif here is not a random one, because Transient's protagonist is just that. Bob has been forced to abandon his wife and family at the behest of slimy betentacled monsters only he can see. They've told him that he has to live on the streets, that he has a special role to play in helping them prevent the universe from being destroyed. What follows is a grotesque picaresque -- Bob and his small band of homeless brethren track down and attempt to thwart a band of multidimensional terrorists bent on destroying time and space as we know it.


The ambition of author-artist Kaufman is not to be scoffed at. In his first book, he takes on a story that is large in scope, has a lot of human and nonhuman characters, and contains some complicated visual ideas. In executing those ideas, Kaufman finds most of his success. The book is arrestingly designed, with images that are simultaneously painterly and cinematic. San Francisco (and Sacramento, the story's secondary setting) look great; Kaufman replicates local light extremely well, and he knows both cities' geography and look. Also key is his terrific monster design. There are dozens of creatures in the book, and each is highly differentiated.

On the other hand, I had to stop and ask myself a few questions after I finished Transient. First, what's this evil plot is all about? We're told that this group of interdimensional beings is bent on the destruction of the world and/or universe. But we never learn why, exactly, this plot has been set in motion, or how it would benefit those behind it. (Presumably, it would not benefit them at all, given that existence as we know it would be obliterated.)

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Casey Burchby


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