Before we start this review, there are a few things we need to get straight:
- Transmeet is not a service for meeting transsexuals on the Internet (if that's what you're into, here's the site I use.)
- Nor is it the next step in your fledgling butcher business.
- Transmeet is, indeed, a comic book written by Juliana Azevedo with everything else by Mauricio Pommella.
- And it's about teleportation. Sort of.
If you're expecting something along the lines of Jumper, you'll have to look elsewhere (which is a little disappointing if that is what you were looking for). Ultimately, teleportation serves as the canvas upon which Transmeet crafts its simple tale of love and robots; it's a means to an end. Set in the future (again?), Transmeet booths are the explanation for why this future world is the way it is. Being somewhere else is as simple as just sliding your Metrocard. This leads about a dozen small suggestions of the radical shift this would cause in any world, but often, that's all it amounts to: small suggestions. We get inklings here and there of the world anew, but it's not enough. But more on that later.
Remember every time you ever did a group project, there was always some kid who suggested doing the whole PowerPoint in Apple Chancery just to be different or "creative?" And you replied, "Don't be a fucking idiot. It doesn't matter what you're saying if it's written like shit." Well, that same sort of argument applies to Transmeet — the lettering is ugly. Oh my, it really is. All the world balloons are essentially of uniform size and shape, with some wiggle room, leaving empty white space in most of the balloons (covering more of the art than necessary). Great, direct, concise lettering is something that is massively underappreciated in comics, as I'm realizing this exact second. Another hiccup comes from the fact that the thought balloons aren't differentiated in shape from the regular speech balloons; they're left dangling, connected to nothing. At first glance, everything reads as spoken word, which is detrimental when you're dealing with something as vital to a story as the difference between what a character says and what he or she thinks.
The art is where this book shines most brightly. Pommella's style invokes something similar to that of Bill Sienkiewicz's frenetic inking, with a splash of Duncan Fegredo from the early issues of Enigma. Unfortunately, the ink-splatter is overdone at times and some panels seem a little lazy. When the art shines, it does so brilliantly, depicting a robotically futuristic landscape, but this doesn't happen enough. Facial expressions don't stand out among the dark landscapes, and pages with nine-panel grids are so utterly crowded by text that the art is hard to find between the gaps. The coloring is another high point of the book. It's moody, but that mood too often tends toward a dramatic red.
In this modern climate, there's something to be said for any comic that's a done-in-one. A graphic story that doesn't carry beyond what's right in front of you is enticing, but Transmeet could've benefited from an expanded format, possibly across a few issues. Because of the shortened (but not necessarily compressed) style of storytelling, the future world in which the story takes place isn't given its necessary breathing room. All we get are the bones of great concepts, hardly possessing the proper muscles to truly move.
In much the same way, it's hard to identify with the falling out that happens between the two main characters. We're told (and often reminded) that the two are in love, but the reader never truly feels it. The characters share a shallow three pages of love (invoked by a cool purple) before things start falling apart. The short bookend sequence makes the story better upon second readings (and provides obligatory boobs), but this space could've been better utilized to flesh out the two main characters, Claris and Eward. Eward is basically Will Smith's character from iRobot (or was it I Am Legend?) minus the cybernetics. He's also pretty similar to a lot of old people you know who hate technology, while Claris is a hard-working woman with a deep past that isn't quite deep enough. It's even worse that the dialogue between Eward and Claris is sloppy. Everything is great when Claris is showing us how this future tech works, but when the techno-babble ends, we're left with characters that don't feel real.
Upon my first read, I truly did not like this comic book. Pledged to valiantly give you the best opinion (and because my editors make me), I read it multiple times. I can honestly say it gets better upon repeat readings. The cyclical nature of the bookend sequences necessitates this, but it isn't enough to overcome some glaring faults (like how can future technology teleport people, but not come up with a better version of Siri?). Though you'll be thrilled by scenes of seemingly living entities of robotic matter (the provoking images callback memories of Xorn, the machine that turns Bill Bixby into Lou Ferrigno and the haunting eye of HAL9000), there simply isn't enough else here to bring most readers back for that second read.
Tyler Gross enjoys comic books, but likes to think he's a lot more handsome than that guy you're picturing in your head right now. By day, he's a college student and behavioral therapist for children with autism; by night, he writes all the jokes that end up on the insides of popsicles. You can follow him on Twitter: @Socratweets1.