I knew the concept of Borrowed Time going in — a reporter goes to the Bermuda Triangle and returns to find his life changed and his girlfriend missing — and I thought it had potential. Unfortunately, this first book of a planned series pretty much establishes just that, and the reader is required to take a lot on faith.
I very much appreciate Oni trying new things: in this case, attempting to establish a format for the serialized graphic novel. However, I have yet to read one of their titles in this format that didn’t feel slight and leave me wanting more. (Northwest Passage is the best of the lot for satisfaction, in my opinion.) Certainly, at $7 for 80 pages, it’s a better deal than, for example, a $7 64-page Prestige Format DC comic (although those are in color) — but it’s not nearly as satisfying as an $8 200-page Shonen Jump manga.
It’s not just about the economics, though, but in what the creators do with the space they’re given. Joe Infurnari’s art gets the job done, but it’s rough and has nothing special to recommend it. As written by Neal Shaffer, the scenes seem longer than they need to be to establish their points, and some could have been removed without loss. It takes a quarter of the book to get the reporter to the boat and the boat launched, and during that point we learn that 1) the reporter loves his girlfriend; 2) he expects the trip to be routine; and 3) there’s something weird about the fridge. Now, maybe I missed something that’s going to be important later, or maybe some of this setup pays off in a future volume, but if I don’t stick around for it, then it’s moot. I also might have enjoyed all of this atmosphere more if the art was less pedestrian.
In other sequences, we see an event, and then later the character explains it to someone else. That’s a positive thing once the weirdness happens, because the art doesn’t make clear what we’re supposed to take away from the pages. I would have appreciated even more exposition, because what I see seems a little dodgy. Complete strangers tell him to go see someone, who gives him some mystical hoohah. I wouldn’t have believed these odd types if I was in that situation, because it never seemed all that strange to me. My suspension of disbelief was completely shot because all I had to go on was the narration of a new character who could be completely unreliable. That the protagonist was lapping it up made me uninterested in his further adventures.
In this case, the necessary atmosphere to support the strangeness was completely lacking, because we never see confirmation of what the reporter’s being told and believing. For the story to work, we have to accept whatever the writer is telling us, and I didn’t buy it.