Saturday, 1 June 2013

Comic Review: Turning Tiger

Its time for another guest comics review courtesy of Dion Winton-Polak of the almost internationally renowned Scrolls podcast. Take it away, Dion...


*****

TURNING TIGER Special Edition
Renegade Arts Entertainment
When I first met Rich Clements at Thought Bubble a couple of years back I had no idea he was a comic book writer, let alone the fella behind the Hi-Ex comic convention.  As far as I was concerned he was just a nice bloke that I’d got chatting to in the pub after hours.  When I bumped into him again last year we ended up having an epic natter amongst a group of creative folk (who just so happened to be located in an area of the hotel which could possibly be described as a ‘bar’) and his sordid past was revealed.  At one point I asked him what work he is most proud of and he answered ‘Turning Tiger’ with barely a pause for thought.  He told me all about the project but alcohol and an evening of banter burned most of the details away.  All I remembered afterwards was the title and the mental image of a small girl with a gigantic war-robot.  So, of course, I had to buy it...

Plot-wise it’s pretty simple – The military are testing a trio of top-secret war machines, when something goes disturbingly wrong.  Sarah is a young girl with a loving family, lucky enough to survive a car crash.  The family are more than a little shocked afterwards when a giant robot turns up and kidnaps their daughter, but strangely enough the military seem to be almost expecting it.  The rest of the book deals with the growing relationship between girl and machine and the unfolding sins of the past (wrapped up in a big old chase sequence.)  It’s a tight little story, clocking in at a mere 58 pages, yet it packs a lot of punch.  Within the tale are moments of elation and horror, pure excitement and genuine tragedy.  It may not be Shakespeare but the emotional stakes are real and every character rings true.

I found Alex’s artwork took a little warming up to.  The character design is pretty stylised, which I can deal with in general, but to my eyes nine-year-old Sarah looked considerably older around the face, which was a little off-putting.  On the plus side her drawings show consistency, which many first-timers struggle to achieve in sequential art.  Meanwhile, the robots are absolutely fabulous creations – earth-stompingly huge, full of fat chrome curves and pure pistoned power.  Machine versus machine is a real joy to watch here, and the action scenes scream full animated series.  Her page layouts really shine too, popping the action through panel walls with weapons-fire splashing out all over the place.  In Sarah’s presence the colours are vivid and cheery, resonating with the energy of childhood, while the adults are painted in murkier hues.  It’s a subtle cue but it strikes to the heart of the project.

In many ways Turning Tiger is an innocent comic book, the quintessence of wish-fulfilment.  Reading it, you are thrust effortlessly back to that stage of childhood where the world seems full of possibilities and adults are just idiots who try to spoil everything.  A wide-eyed world, then?  Yes, but it has enough of a grip on itself to acknowledge the grown up perspective, of tough choices made and consequences suffered.  There is a much wider world here to be explored though, and it doesn't feel like we've done much other than scratch the surface.  It’s a set-up book, a pilot episode if you will, and as such it leaves you feeling a little short changed.  What happens next Rich, Goddammit?!  Well, we’ll be finding out soon, hopefully.  Volume 2 has been scripted, after all.  So you know what to do now.  Buy it, read it, then start pestering the publishers about the next one.  You know it makes sense.

Rating: 3.5/5

Writer: Richmond Clements
Art: Alex Moore
Letterer: Jim Campbell
Colours: Vicky Stonebrdge
Editor: Alexander Finbow

*****

Thanks, Dion! We're happy to run guest reviews so if there's a comic you want to rave about just drop us a line via our email or twitters!

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