Review: Transmissions #1 (TPub Comics)

This tense Cold War infused spy thriller sees two of our favourite small press creators team up, as The Show’s Jed McPherson combines with TPub (publisher of The Theory and The Traveller). But will this have the usual TPub sting in the tail – stay tuned!

Publisher: TPub Comics
Writer: Jed McPherson
Artist: Marco Perugini
Price: Funding on Kickstarter

After a vicious shooting at a bank sees an undercover spy killed, government agent Charlie Stratford begins to investigate. He discovers the shooter and others may have been triggered by a defunct Russian radio transmission, which sends out deadly orders via a stream of numbers. As he attempts to break the code he meets an GCHQ codebreaker who has studied the unbreakable routine and introduces him to the inventor of the original system – an ageing Russian now in an old people’s home – can they crack the code before someone else dies?

This first issue of a four issue series is a slow burning but brilliantly paced debut. It introduces the concept brilliantly, posing enough questions that we want to know more, but importantly doesn’t bombard us with too much information. It starts with a bang with the shooting, but the rest of the issue is more of a taught dialogue heavy thriller, which builds tension and intrigue with every scene.

McPherson did a great job with The Show, and also his debut crime book Deadbeat, but this really sets out his stall as an exciting new talent, who has really stepped up to the next level with his writing on this one.The concept reminded us of classic Cold War thrillers like Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, but also more contemporary comics like Ed Brubaker’s work in Winter Soldier – and the design and style of the book certainly echoes that series.

Artist Marco Perugini has a very stylish almost vintage look to the art with shades of Sean Philips or Paul Moore with the mix of gritty realism. It is the perfect fit for this kind of story and balances stylish explosive action at the beginning before the really strong work is done during the slower, speaking scenes, which make up the bulk of this issue.

Our only negative is that some of the faces are a little too loose and expressionistic in places and so makes it difficult to follow who the characters are as they aren’t the most unique – however that is very much in keeping with the style of story.

Transmissions is an incredibly strong debut that brilliantly sets the tone for this potentially tense thriller. While it’s too early to tell if this will have the trademark TPub sting in the tale, but If the story develops and resolved itself as well as we hope then this is a book worthy of future transmissions!