Publisher: Titan Comics
Writer: Noel Clarke
Artist: Joshua Cassara
Release Date: 9th December 2015
The comic book debut from acclaimed director, actor and writer Noel Clarke – who fans may recognise from the likes of Doctor Who, Star Trek: Into Darkness and Kidulthood – The Troop is a book which, based on outward appearances, could potentially be dismissed as being derivative or uninspired. Super-powered teens being hunted by a shady government organisation? A mysterious adult trying to save these teens and bring them together? Any of this sounding familiar? Thankfully though, Clarke’s edgy, character-based delivery really elevates The Troop above the rest of the bland superhero teen fare on the shelves today, providing a gritty, violent and utterly riveting take on this somewhat tired genre.
This first issue serves as a prolonged introduction to our key players, allowing us to dip into the lives of the individual teens who will be carrying the story as it moves forwards, learning a little about their individual stories and powers. Clarke shows an impressively confident hand in his comic debut here, providing a strong narrative thread for each of the children, with each of them having to deal with their own unique issues – be it violence, crime or domestic abuse – in their own way. Their powers are pleasingly diverse too, including pyrokenesis, the ability to turn skin into rock, and some bizarre disease… transference… thing, making each of the children intriguing enough after this first issue for the reader to want to find out more about them, and the prospect of seeing them interacting with one another as the series progresses truly appealing.
Oh, and it also doesn’t hurt that the book looks absolutely bloody fantastic, with Josh Cassara’s artwork providing some bold, kinetic sequences as the individual powers manifest themselves. The layouts are fresh and cinematic, keeping the story surging forwards as we leap from thread to thread, and the character design is impressive throughout, giving each of the teens their own unique aesthetic, particularly once their powers start coming into play. The violence is fairly brutal at times but remains ‘real’ without being too over-the-top, striking the perfect balance and giving the book just the edge it needs to stand out from the pack.
Pacing-wise, the main story is only being drip-fed for the moment. For instance, we don’t really know much about why these children and teens are developing powers, or why this mysterious organisation is hunting them so doggedly. However, even with this lack of real information, the strong characterisation on display provides more than enough of a hook to make any reader – myself included – extremely keen to know what happens next. It’s also worth noting that the last couple of pages throw a potential spanner into the works with an eyebrow-raising curveball that promises to add even more depth to the story as it moves forwards, as well as introducing a worrying new threat for the group.
A violent, uncompromising teen superhero drama wrapped up in a mystery that simply begs to be solved, Clarke takes great pleasure in pushing the envelope in his comic book debut, making The Troop pretty much essential reading for anyone who likes their ‘super’ comics with a bit of an edge.
If you want to find out a little more about The Troop, make sure to check out my interview with writer Noel Clarke by CLICKING HERE.
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