SHOCK reviews Acton Lab Comics’ revamped TRANCERS comic.
TRANCERS is the type of movie that dives straight into its world with little warning. With a tagline of “His name is Deth, he hunts Trancers, even in the 20th Century”, the audience is warned that they are in for a trip, a promise that it fulfills in every sense of the word. It’s definitely a trip alright. This low-budget sci-fi wonderland about a detective who travels through time to stop a dastardly villain has spawned five sequels and a thirty minute short, creating a fan-base that is as committed to its infinite continuation as it is to the B-movie fun that every subsequent film seems to release in spades. So, is it any wonder that in our age of nostalgia that TRANCERS has once again seen the spotlight? Thanks to Action Lab Comics, TRANCERS the comic is back, this time shining a bit of backstory on our hero’s obsession with villain Martin Whistler.
Much like the movie, the comic is heavily shadowed with Jack Deth’s internal monologue. It begins as he races his way down the streets of New Vegas on the resort planet of Mekon Seven. Per movie mythos, will not end well for Whistler, but we finally get a glimpse of what led up to their eventual confrontation. Deth narrates who he is, the tragic story of him and his wife, and why exactly he’s there to kill the man that took everything away from him. As he reaches his destination, there are more than just bad feelings standing between the two and as the blood begins to flow, a battle of the mind is soon to follow.
Though it’s obvious to fans of the movie that there was a bit of budget issue (which perhaps helped solidify into its cult status), comics have no such limit but the imagination, and this comic feels like the movie that the creators wanted to make. Fast paced action in a uniquely sci-fi setting, the reader gets a front row view of Deth’s one minded pursuit to destroy the man who destroyed him. As a prequel to the first TRANCERS movie, it’s fun to see the places only mentioned in the film and get a little more into the protagonists head. Unfortunately, there is no indication if the follow up issues are going to be different from the initial movie as the first issue literally leads into where the movie started off on. Perhaps we’ll see some between-the-scene’s scenes or a further exploration of the TRANCERS world?
Also, this is very much a TRANCERS comic, the story is very particular to this work, including using phrases and technologies only seen in the series, and might be a turn off to new readers. While this may not be an issue for bigger 80’s nostalgia works such as BOOM! Studios BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA or IDW’s BACK TO THE FUTURE, because TRANCERS is so low flying, it’s hard to really embrace the entirety of the work without having to hunt down the movie.
As stated, this is not the first TRANCERS comic to have been released, the first one having come out in 1991 via Eternity Comics. Both series are the product of Full Moon Entertainment and explore different aspects of Deth’s life, though the current incantation is planning on beating the previous run by one more issue (the original series got cut off at two issues). The writers, Jimmy Palmiotti (Harley Quinn, All-Star Western) and Justin Gray (All-Star Western) weave a story that is solid homage to the movie series, from the heavy sci-fi opera to the technological goofiness such as giving Whistler wings on his suit. Deth’s personality mirrors actors Tim Thomerson’s original portrayal, albeit, perhaps a tad bit less wise-cracking. The art does get a bit scrunchy in places, especially when the action bits are in play, but it’s not so distracting as to take away from the work as a whole.
TRANCERS the comic continues on the cheesiness and attempted seriousness of its originator, but might turn off readers who are not already initiated into the overall series…