Editor’s Note: This review about Torrent #1 is coming to you courtesy of your friendly neighborhood Skipntosh and BunkmastaB, two CAD contributors. Here are a few of their thoughts, make sure to get some thoughts of your own and pick up a copy
Skip: If you know me, (which you don’t, but stick with me for a sec), then you know I used to be a huge fan of wrestling. I LOVE tag team matches. (I’m a big teamwork type of person). But, this article is not about wrestling, yet, somehow I have managed to squeeze tag teaming into it. On that note: TAG!
Bunk: Maybe you know me a little bit better from my writing here, (probably not, but you’re already sticking with us) which includes my last piece about Dope Wrestling Comics so you know I’m down for a tag-team style article covering this week’s Torrent #1 from Image Comics.
Skip: Though not a wrestling comic, Torrent (Guggenheim, Greenwood, Renzi & Wood) is still a very dynamic book, full of twists, turns and bombast! Sure to leave you with bumps and bruises from its kinetic art and magnetic dialogue, Torrent #1 pulls you in and pushes you to its apex until the bell rings.
Bunk: Skip and I were lucky enough to have some ringside seats for this debut issue and wanted to share with you all some of our thoughts about the book. Stick around for a little bit of a discussion about a fascinating new beginning, but if you’re already looking to jump to the end, what you need to know is this is a book you need to own.
Skip: We are thrown right into the muck and mire, via some in media res. The situation is stark and pulpy. Our protagonist has been bested. How? And what has pushed her over the edge to the point of giving into, what seems like a full blown vengeful bloodlust? We haven’t quite gotten there yet. But the plot unfolds at a masterful pace. Early action scenes set the tone of this world we are introduced to. Each relationship establishing scene gets the time it needs to breathe and feel lived in. And within those palpable, intimate spaces, the villain intrudes at the perfect timing. Setting in motion the gears of conflict and turmoil. Chef’s kiss.
Familiar, yet seasoned dialogue by Guggenheim, convinces us of the love and joy this family unit share with each other. Everyone has their own voice. Parents sound like parents. Kids sound like kids. And lovers sound like lovers. Foils excel and falter in verisimilitude, at varying degrees. The chief baddie is teased & brandished just enough to strike ire and stoke intrigue. Well played.
Bunk: Skip, everything you’re saying right there is spot on. But, you know what I love about Superhero comics? They’re familiar, they’re comfortable. I can pick one up and reading it feels like putting on an old hoodie. With a superhero book, I can reasonably expect I’m going to get a cast of generally likable characters who struggle with the idea of how they can do the most good with their specific set of powers. I’m going to get a struggle with antagonistic forces bent on opposing them but who ultimately get defeated. Take this formula and repeat it endlessly. It’s comfortable, it’s fun, and it’s easy. You know what it’s not typically? Gruesome and wrenching. Well, that’s where Torrent is different.
Most of this issue number one is spent lulling us into a false sense of security. Guggenheim does everything he can to show us a familiar and comfortable comic. On the caped side of the equation, we get an average super-hero team up complete with annoying side-kick and a reluctant mentor. On the secret identity front, we’re shown a “perfect nuclear family”, with Michelle telling us “Yes, I fight crime all day only to come home at night to cook dinner. What of it?” Guggenheim is pulling all his punches right now, only to rope-a-dope us with a complete tonal shift once we’ve gotten comfortable. What follows these scenes of domestic tranquility are some gruesome and wrenching scenes, letting us know that what follows isn’t going to be anything like what we just saw. We’ve seen these bait-and-switch style superhero stories with things like Invincible and Radiant Black, the big difference here being that the “twist” is occurring right in issue 1. Guggenheim isn’t giving us any kind of illusions as to what this series is going to be about, and I’m here for that.
Still Bunk: On the art front, we get a more of the same style that led to such an effective curveball with the plotting. Justin Greenwood is the artist behind one of my favorite sci-fi hidden gems The Fuse. Most notable for his work on Stumptown with Greg Rucka, I’ve never really thought of Greenwood as a superhero artist, but Torrent shows me differently. Greenwood adeptly cycles through action scenes that impart both movement and impact equally well that gets interspersed with dynamic poses that would make any Marvel/DC Wednesday Warrior’s heart swell with pride. Stylistically he doesn’t look like anyone else on the stands right now, but it all looks so natural. When he transitions to the family scenes, everything looks like it belongs, right down to a framed Le Chat Noir poster in the background. It’s all comfortable and familiar.
Then, much like the script, Greenwood helps execute the tonal shift to a dark and moody crime story. We’re first given our preview of this coming change with a particularly visceral wound to Slipstream. In an otherwise traditional superhero battle filled with Pows, Chocks, and Pops, we’re shown the kind of flesh wound that doesn’t normally get depicted in a standard superhero comic. Though it’s quickly patched up, it’s the foreshadowing we need to let us know that Greenwood isn’t afraid to depict bruised faces, swollen to unrecognition, or limbs or wounds being twisted and dug in to the point of sheer agony. Through all this, Greenwood’s friendly style from the first half of the book never wavers. What we’re given is this eerie sense of discordance between what we think the book should be and the raw, stark images captured on the page. It’s not what I was expecting from a Greenwood project, but I’m excited as heck to see it keep going.
Skip: Veteran artist Justin Greenwood lays it on thick on this intro issue. That kinetic panel work, ink-splatter, and tangible line-weight is on full and fiery display. Textures bring environments to fine form. Camera movement keeps the dynamism fizzing. Dimension and depth dance in synchronicity, holding our engagement. Transitions are smoother than Sade’s operator. While character faces and figures glide on the page, for a true treat of a visual read.
Colors by the venerable Double R (Rico Renzi) provide proper vitality to Greenwood’s line-work. Nourishing color palettes for calm scenes, and salt water taffy palettes for panels work so well in-tandem. Greenwood sets the table. Renzi sets the mood. We get spoiled. Kept comic readers we are, in this issue. Especially with Keith Wood, being the trusty glue-guy with the lettering and design work. Narration, speech & thought bubbles as well as action text all placed with crafty care, page to page.
Bunk: Right from page one, Torrent tells us what this book is about, giving us a scene of Michele, no longer in costume, hoisting two automatic rifles and laying fire into an unseen crowd. There’s a part of us that KNOWS what to expect going into this. And yet, the creative team tells us with the better part of the issue to forget about all that, that everything is going to give us that familiar and comfortable hoodie feeling we’re looking for in a comic. And it does . . . up until it doesn’t. Well, I’m onto your tricks, Guggenheim and Greenwood. You may have fooled me once, but it won’t happen again. . . at least until issue 2 comes out and I fall for it over again. This was a great debut, filled with high-density contrast and I can’t wait to see where this creative team takes us from here.
Skip: What do you get when you push a heroine past her limits, written by a very accomplished penman, drawn by an energetic renderer, made vivid by a shoegazey colorist, and given speech by a talented letterer & graphics artist? A good time that you can look forward to for the next 5 months. And it’s just getting started. Get in on the ground level, and brace yourself for the rowdy ride to the top. And try not to trip on any of her bullet casing. This book does not come with any healthcare coverage.
Damn this article was just what I needed to read. Can’t wait to see what comic is picked next.