Showing posts with label Torchwood. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Torchwood. Show all posts

Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Review - Torchwood # 4

Torchwood # 4
"World Without End" - Part 4 (of 4)
Written by: John Barrowman & Carole Barrowman
Art by: Antonio Fuso & Pasquale Qualano
Colours by: Marco Lusko

With the final issue of its first volume, the Torchwood comic finally aligns its seemingly disparate plot threads into something of a linear fashion. As a result, the narrative feels a lot smoother and concentrated on a singular storyline as opposed to the scattered approach seen in previous issues. In fact, re-reading the four issues of this volume in one go heavily reduces the staccato feel to the plot, and almost makes the awkward pacing bearable – clearly John and Carole Barrowman are writing for the trade paperback, which makes the individual issues frustrating at times. Despite its confusing narrative style, there is a really interesting story at the heart of this comic which makes it worthwhile preserving with the pacing. While some aspects of the plot are made clearer in this final installment of the volume – there are plenty of mysteries that are carried over such as what is going on with Rona the stowaway. While this issue shows definite improvements, it still doesn't feel like the Torchwood that fans may remember. That said, I am happy to see the Torchwood narrative move forward as many spin-off stories seem to revolve around the original team line-up from Seasons One and Two. There just needs to be more work on developing the new supporting cast-members into likeable characters.

The art continues to be handled by Antonio Fuso and Pasquale Qualano, who manage to maintain a level of consistency between their differing art styles. At times it is noticeable when the two artists pass the baton to each other, but it isn't too disorientating – although, I do wonder why the series requires two artists on each issue. Fuso and Qualano do a great job at communicating that 'black-ops' tone that Torchwood fans will remember from the series, with an added nautical element that the Ice Maiden provides. There is definitely a darker feel to the art on this series compared to the various Doctor Who comic series, mirroring the more mature tone that Torchwood had in its televised form. I must admit that I'm not overly keen on restarting the series after four issues to signify a new story-arc, especially since the next story-arc seems to be a direct continuation to this one. With the Doctor Who comic series it makes sense as each 'year' is treated like a season of the television show, but here it doesn't make sense. Given the improvements to this series since its first issue, I am hopeful that when Torchwood returns with its “Station Zero” storyline that it will be adopting a more streamlined narrative that befits the monthly comic-book format. Despite all the problems, I am enjoying this series and am curious to find out more about the mysteries teased.

Score - 8.0 out of 10

Torchwood # 4 is now available in all good comic shops, including Forbidden Planet, as well as on the Comixology website. Be sure to put in a standing order for the upcoming issues in the series when you pick up your copy!

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Review - Torchwood # 3

Torchwood # 3
"World Without End" - Part 3 (of 4)
Written by: John Barrowman & Carole Barrowman
Art by: Antonio Fuso & Pasquale Qualano
Colours by: Marco Lusko

This penultimate issue of Torchwood’s first volume suffers from many of the same problems that has plagued this series from the beginning – namely, the pacing. Having read most of Carole and John Barrowman’s book, “Exodus Code” – which this comic follows on from – I can see a lot of their novel writing style here in their comic book scripts, and unfortunately the two techniques don’t flow together well. In novel format, the constant scene changes adds an intriguing sense of pace with chapters dedicated to specific plot threads that come together to form a larger narrative – however, in a monthly comic book, it comes across as a muddied story with too much going on at once. I have to applaud the Barrowmans for creating multiple, engaging mysteries but it can be frustrating when the various storylines cannibalise each other for dominance in the issue. The main focal point of the issue should be on Captain Jack Harkness and the crew of the Ice Maiden, but they seem relegated to the back-burner in this issue for a focus on the events unfolding in Torchwood House and with Captain James. Rather annoyingly, both of those alternate story-arcs end with mysterious figures that aren’t revealed to the reader – it’s this staccato approach to the storytelling which weakens what could have been a thrilling adventure.

The art from Antonio Fuso and Pasquale Qualano remains top-notch and despite the differences in style between the two artists, they are relatively compatible as they work together to produce the issue. Both artists make use thick dark lines, which helps emphasise the grittier tone of Torchwood compared to the more fairy-tale nature of Doctor Who. Fuso and Qualano manage to capture that “black ops” feel to the series, especially in the scenes set aboard the Ice Maiden – you can almost imagine the salty sea air and the rusting metal of the cabins when reading the page. The likenesses, whilst not photo-realistic, manage to evoke memories of Eve Myles and John Barrowman’s performances and unsurprisingly, Barrowman knows how to write Jack Harkness to a tee, having lived inside the characters head for over a decade through the various television and audio adventures. While this series does have its flaws, the compelling mysteries at the heart of the story ensure that it is worth persevering with the clunky narrative – after three issues, the story is becoming clearer and easier to follow as the three distinct storylines begin to coalesce. With one episode left, it seems highly likely that this will end up being a prelude to the next volume of adventures, and I think when it is all collected in graphic novel format, it’ll be a lot more coherent and enjoyable for Torchwood fans to get to grips with.

Score - 7.8 out of 10

Torchwood # 3 is now available in all good comic shops, including Forbidden Planet, as well as on the Comixology website. Be sure to put in a standing order for the upcoming issues in the series when you pick up your copy!

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Review - Torchwood # 2

Torchwood # 2
"World Without End" - Part 2 (of 4)
Written by: John Barrowman & Carole Barrowman
Art by: Antonio Fuso & Pasquale Qualano
Colours by: Marco Lusko

In an attempt to better understand the story being told in this comic, I purchased “Exodus Code” - the novel from Carole and John Barrowman which introduces the Ice Maiden and its crew into the Torchwood universe. I'm only three-quarters of the way through the book, but it has definitely made it easier to follow the plot and connect with these new characters – although it shouldn't have been necessary. Possibly as a reaction to the criticism of the first issue, Titan Comics provides a lengthy recap page at the front of this issue, complete with plenty of character biographies to help acquaint readers with this new cast of characters. While the opening issue of this series felt overwhelmed with constant scene changes and multiple narratives, this second issue slows the pace down considerably and focuses on the core Torchwood group on the Ice Maiden and the murder mystery occurring at Torchwood House, with the possibility of the pair connecting together in the next issue. Things even slow down long enough for the team to enjoy a cup of tea!

Antonio Fuso and Pasquale Qualano continue to capture the dark, brooding nature of Torchwood with their artwork, although sometimes the action set-pieces feel a bit stilted and hard to follow. During the quieter scenes, the artists do much better and as mentioned before, the thicker lines on their art style reminds me of 2000AD artist, Dom Reardon and his wonderful work on Caballistics Inc. Definitely worth a read if you're a fan of Torchwood! This issue also introduces Vlad - a character I've been reading about in “Exodus Code” - and it's interesting to see the artists model him on Sean Bean, giving him a gruff and dangerous personality. It's quite a departure from the version I had built up in my mind's eye whilst reading, but I do like this interpretation of the character.

While this series is still rough around the edges in places, this second outing is a strong improvement on the first issue as Carole and John Barrowman streamline the narrative and spent a bit more time developing the characters. It seems the transition from novel-writing to comic-writing hasn't been an entirely smooth process, but this second issue definitely shows promise and I look forward to seeing this new team of Torchwood operatives being fleshed out and put through their paces in future episodes.

Score - 7.7 out of 10

Torchwood # 2 is now available in all good comic shops, including Forbidden Planet, as well as on the Comixology website. Be sure to put in a standing order for the upcoming issues in the series when you pick up your copy!

Wednesday, 3 August 2016

Review - Torchwood # 1

Torchwood # 1
"World Without End" - Part 1 (of 4)
Written by: John Barrowman & Carole Barrowman
Art by: Antonio Fuso & Pasquale Qualano
Colours by: Marco Lusko

Ever since the conclusion of Torchwood: Miracle Day in 2011, there has been a question mark over whether the series would ever return and as the years passed by, and Doctor Who moved further away from the Torchwood universe, it looked like the adventures of Captain Jack Harkness and Gwen Cooper had come to an end. However, the launch of this ongoing comic series, written by John and Carole Barrowman, promises to tell new and exciting adventures for the Torchwood gang, spinning out of their 2012 BBC Books novel “Exodus Code”. For those who haven't read “Exodus Code”, the shift in status-quo is quite significant from the events of Miracle Day and the writers do their best to catch readers up with the new characters introduced in that book, but this first issue feels a bit too cluttered at times as it attempts to replicate the swish, cinematic style of Torchwood with plenty of scene changes and multiple plot-threads occurring at once. While it may flow better in the collected edition format, this first issue lacks a coherent central thread, and perhaps the scene with the stowaway could have been better used to introduce readers to the new status-quo. As a result, the issue required a re-read to get a firm grasp on what was the main narrative thread, and which sequences were teasers for future storylines.

Despite the clunky narrative gear-shifts, I found myself very intrigued to learn more about the new Torchwood members aboard the Ice Maiden – so much so, that I went out and picked up “Exodus Code” to catch up on the events between stories. One of the problems with Torchwood is that they killed off too many of its strongest characters throughout the series with Owen and Tosh wiped out in Season Two, and then Ianto in Children of Earth. Even now, most of the spin-off material focuses on that classic Torchwood era, and the show hasn't really been able to recapture that same tone from the first two seasons. With the crew of the Ice Maiden, John and Carole Barrowman look to be restoring the notion of a supporting cast to the series, moving Torchwood from out of Jack and Gwen's shadow to add a bit more content. While briefly explored in this issue, I do like the concept of an AI computer that thinks it is the captain of the ship, overriding and ignoring the real captain's commands when it wants. The comic series also depicts Jack's trademark sexuality as it appears he is in a relationship with Hollis but willing to flirt with every other living creature on-board the ship. I hope future issues spend more time with the characters and their relationships as there is plenty of potential here to rebuild that 'team dynamic' that felt lost in the final two Torchwood serials.

The art for this opening issue is provided by Antonio Fuso and Pasquale Qualano, and the pair do a brilliant job at capturing the darker tone of Torchwood, compared to the brighter artwork seen in Titan Comics' Doctor Who comic series. In some panels, the art reminds me of Dom Reardon's thick, black and white style – and Reardon drew 2000AD's excellent Caballistics, Inc series, which shares many similarities to Torchwood. While Fuso and Qualano manage to nail the tone of the series, some of the action sequences were hard to decipher. It's unclear exactly how the Ice Maiden transports itself – it looks like it teleports out of the ocean and has some weird catchment net that accidentally ensnared Rona. That said, the opening sequence with the tentacled eyes grabbing ahold of Jack was excellently done and felt like a typical Torchwood opening. There's a wonderful sense of continuity from both artists as it is difficult to tell the difference between the two – in fact, I was convinced this was the work of a single artist. The pair also manage to capture the likenesses of John Barrowman and Eve Myles in Jack and Gwen, and the designs for the other Ice Maiden characters are well realised too.

Overall, this was an issue that required multiple readings for multiple reasons. Initially, I was expecting this incarnation of Torchwood to closely resemble the classic series, and while some of those elements are there, I hadn't expected the comic to follow the events of “Exodus Code” so closely. While I appreciate the connection to continuity, it has put me on the back foot and made me seek out the novel to acquaint myself with the series' new status-quo. I have to say that this initial issue wasn't really that new reader-friendly and even people familiar with the Torchwood television show may find themselves lost and confused. Perhaps a comic-book adaptation of “Exodus Code” would have been a better starting point for the series, given how important the book appears to be to the Torchwood continuity. Aside from those problems, there were some interesting moments in this series and plenty of potential for future storylines once readers have grown accustomed to the new set-up. Hopefully future issues of the comic series will slow down the pace a little to allow these new characters the opportunity to breathe and develop, and the writers would do well to focus on fewer plot threads at once, otherwise readers will remain disorientated at the series' choppy pace.

Score - 7.4 out of 10

Torchwood # 1 is now available in all good comic shops, including Forbidden Planet, as well as on the Comixology website. Be sure to put in a standing order for the upcoming issues in the series when you pick up your copy!
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