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Temporary #1
posted November 11, 2004

Creators: Damon Hurd and Rick Smith
Publishing Info: Origin Comics, $3.95, 56 Pages, 2004
Ordering Numbers: OCT042887 (Diamond)

imageWell... I like the set-up and I like the ending. That rare beast, an independent comic book series, Temporary's premise seems to be the various jobs in which protagonist Envy Saint-Claire finds herself, a serial literature concept so promising it amazes no one in comics has used it before. At the story's end, we stay with Saint-Claire for a few extra pages, almost like film after the run of movie-ending credits. The structural deepening of interest in simply getting more story than we bargained for becomes matched by an upgrade in the loopiness of the plot. We watch Envy go to a door and call for a friend, whose arrival warps the reality of the comic book around her entrance. It's a nice little shocker, as Saint-Claire had until that moment played the kind of realistic fulcrum around which craziness moved, never the source of loopy times herself.

There are way too many pages between these livelier than average story strengths, and I found all of them deadly dull. Saint-Claire's assignment in issue #1 is to work for a company that is conducting an experiment concerning workplace routine and controls. You find this out up top. Saint-Claire, by virtue of a small and overly convenient string of coincidences, ends up working in the laboratory rather than the workplace supporting the experiment. And then she... well, she just sort of works there. Saint-Claire isn't a strong enough character to come into interesting or believable conflict with the situation that's presented her, nor does she react against expectations and go along to any great degree. She fusses and copes. If this were to bring into relief the specific, fascinating details of the experiment, or to allow the writer and artist several craft flourishes in the manner of a Charles Burns, that's one thing. In disappointing fashion, the "seventh floor experiment" unfolds as predictably as any standard satirical workplace based around meaningless tasks. Smith has a crude, sometimes expressive but mostly just crude art style that features a lot of dropped backgrounds and doesn't depict a single moment in a way that you'd remember the visuals. Hurd's dialogue work isn't particularly distinctive, either. Compare the tale in Temporary #1 to a somewhat similar story of "normal" people negotiating crazies by Carol Swain and Dennis Eichhorn, which was funny and evocatively drawn, with twists and turns galore, and you see how much potential has been wasted here.

I'd say reading this comic felt like a really boring temp job, but I've never had a temp assignment quite this predictable -- and I once sorted files for the federal government. Despite the ending's promise, I'm afraid to show up for work next issue.