Publisher: Z2 Comics
Writer: Michael Moreci
Artist: Matt Battaglia
Release Date: July 27th, 2016
With FBI Agents Georgia and Trent recruiting potentially compromised CIA asset Denton Wilkins to help them track down the enigmatic, seemingly omnipresent leader of a shadowy terrorist organisation, the first chapter of Michael Moreci and Matt Battaglia’s Indoctrination quickly sunk its hooks in with a worryingly believable premise and an impressive cast of utterly intriguing characters.
The second issue sees Georgia and Trent continuing in their attempts to locate Sahir, following up on the leads they encounter and gradually getting sucked deeper and deeper into the dark, twisted world they’re investigating. It’s also becoming more and more apparent that they’re increasingly willing to sacrifice their own moral code in order to get results, and, hopefully, prevent the impending terrorist attack. A worrying trend, for sure.
The characterisation of both leads is being kept somewhat restrained for the time being, with just enough slivers of emotion on display to prevent them from becoming relentless, justice-seeking automatons. For me though, it’s former CIA asset Wilkins who’s really driving the story forwards. His recollections of his time spent in prison and continued uncertainty as to whether he actually has been compromised or not make him the undisputed cornerstone of this series, and the subtle moments – such as him picking up and smelling a flower in the opening pages – really resonate as a result.
Once again Moreci is tapping into the very real-world fear of hidden extremists lurking among us, but is doing it with an even hand and an impressive level of subtlety and realism. In fact, it’s the realism of Indoctrination that really helps the story land, particularly given the uncertain, often terrifying world we each currently inhabit and get to watch on the news every night. This is very much a character and dialogue-driven series, as is becoming the norm for Moreci, and even the threat of terrorist mastermind Sahir is being kept almost as an abstract concept rather than a real person – for the time being, at least.
That said, this issue does feature a brief explosion of action, and while such a sequence could potentially be viewed as throwaway in other comics, the strength of the characterisation thus far really helps to emphasise the high stakes of the exchange. It also doesn’t hurt that Matt Battaglia’s scratchy artistic flair works wonders in conveying the frenetic chaos of the sequence, with the blood, smoke and flashbangs all blurring together into a disorientating haze. Battaglia is rapidly becoming an ‘artist-slash-colourist’ rather than a ‘colourist-slash-artist’, and his work here is of an impressively high quality yet again, featuring expressive characters aplenty and – as expected – a sublime use of colour to emphasise the tone and mood of each individual scene.
Slow-burning, gripping, and with a premise that could have been ripped directly from the headlines, Indoctrination provides a masterful look at the current climate of terrorism and asks some interesting questions about the nature of free will and whether we can ever truly break free from our apparently pre-determined paths. Highly, highly recommended.