Reading the first issue is like skimming through a hit parade of some of sci-fi and pop culture's greatest hits from the past 15 years.
Talent is a pretty monthly series, if the first issue is any indication. But its content is far too derivative to be recommended.
Equal parts Lost, 24, The Da Vinci Code, The X-Files, Quantum Leap, and any number of television police procedurals, Talent reads like a mid-season replacement trying to cash in on the prevailing winds of popularity. In the first issue, an airplane on its final decent crashes into the ocean after a mysterious explosion, and every passenger is presumed dead. Twelve hours after the initial search and rescue mission began, Nicholas Dane is found alive and drowning. This is shocking to everyone, especially one Senator Krause. Turns out he's working for a shadowy cult made up of many mysterious old men who would rather see Dane dead. Making things murkier for the Senator and the cult he works for is that Dane apparently has the memories and skills of numerous passengers on the flight that crashed.
Talent is saturated with mystery, but it's not a mystery that feels particularly worth solving. There is a nice pacing to the first issue of the series, with writers Christopher Golden and Tom Sniegoski moving us from crash to post-crash to collisions of cults and religions and bad guys and good guys to shadowy hints of what's going on with nimble speed. And while this is certainly a good set-up for a series -- God knows enough TV types think so; look at the number of serialized mysteramas populating the airwaves -- it rings rather hollow. After all, why read a monthly comic book about what you can see in a weekly television show? Additionally, with some exceptions, the elements that are meant to build the Talent series are hardly new. Reading the first issue is like skimming through a hit parade of some of sci-fi and pop culture's greatest hits from the past 15 years.
Despite these faults, the series looks really good. Artist Paul Azaceta's style is blocky, choppy, and almost minimalist in its simple elegance. It serves the content well. He also takes a cinematic approach to staging his images, placing a face in the bottom of the frame while the character is screaming to heightening the impact of the emotion, for example. Azaceta also moves from more traditional square frames to wider filmic ones at points of heightened tension. Colorist Ron Riley is instrumental in pulling off the aesthetic in Talent. It's a shadowy, almost noir tale, and his work certainly reflects that.
Unfortunately, the rest of the book doesn't hold up as well as the visuals. At the most base level, a comic is only as good as the synergy between the written and the illustrated. And if that were the only consideration this first issue of Talent would be a roaring success. The images perfectly match the story being told and the tone of the narrative. However, that's not the only thing that makes a comic book successful. The content of the written and illustrated materials must be compelling, as well. It's here were Talent fails.
Perhaps if the creators of Talent hadn't limited themselves to what was popular two TV seasons ago, this series might not feel so derivative. If they used instead built off of the generic narrative constructions they employ here, Talent might have felt fresher and more compelling. As it is, though, it reads more like yesterday's news.