Writer: Paul Allor
Artist: Paul Tucker
Release Date: 9th Sept, 2015
The first title released as part of IDW Publishing and Comics Experience‘s new partnership, Tet is a hard-boiled crime thriller with more than a hint of romance set against the backdrop of the Vietnam war. When one of the few men he called a ‘friend’ is brutally and mysteriously murdered, Marine Eugene Smith is forced into a grudging partnership with National Police Officer Nguyen Bao to try and bring the killer to justice. However, with the festival of Tet (the Vietnamese New Year) just around the corner, and with it the well-documented ‘Tet Offensive’ that saw Viet Cong forces launch a series of coordinated attacks on cities and towns around South Vietnam, the clock is ticking and the stakes have never been higher.
Setting a crime thriller in a war zone isn’t necessarily anything particularly new, but writer Allor hits us with the strong characterisation of Eugene right from the get-go, giving the story a much-needed anchor and a truly intriguing protagonist. The story is also told in a decidedly non-linear fashion, giving us glimpses of Eugene’s civilian life following the war, with Allor’s tense inner monologue dropping several hints about the events which may have transpired. The romance portion of the book is handled subtly and realistically, with several tender moments between Eugene and his Vietnamese fiancée giving us a brief insight into their relationship.
Paul Tucker provides the visuals here, doing so with a rough, edgy style that works well given the warzone backdrop. While there’s an occasional lack of consistency with some of the faces, Tucker’s layouts are second to none, and give the book a smooth, cinematic flow that lends extra emphasis to Allor’s words – particularly during the tense final couple of pages of this first issue.
While the premise itself isn’t groundbreaking, the execution here is absolutely spot-on, and Allor and Tucker have crafted an utterly compelling tale of love, death and war. The creative narrative structure and the mystery at the heart of Tet give it real substance, and with the true horrors of the “Tet Offensive” still to come, it’s going to be interesting to see how this particular creative team’s focus holds up when recreating one of the most brutally violent conflicts in modern war. You can count me in for the rest of this series, that’s for sure.
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