Writers: John Barrowman and Carole Barrowman
Artists: Antonio Fuso and Pasquale Qualano
Release Date: 3rd August, 2016
The latest series of the Torchwood comic saga commences after the events of ‘Exodus Code’. Jack is exploring the universe with the crew of the Ice Maiden, while Gwen plays the domesticated Acting Head of Torchwood Cardiff back on Earth. However, a series of events involving a multi-eyed alien and an utterly moronic girl (with all the technology-obsessed characteristics symptomatic of her generation) draw them back to our planet and into Gwen’s path.
This book is a classic set-up piece. Within these pages, we’re introduced (and re-introduced) to a host of characters (complete with snappy bios). The book bounces from space to Cardiff to the Highlands as the foundations are laid for the major plotlines. There’s even clever dialogue aplenty (“Ninjas on flying jetskis; must be Tuesday”). What there isn’t, however, is cohesion. There’s so much going on, but seemingly nothing to gel all these random events together. At the end of the issue, the reader is unfortunately left with a mishmash of a story with little to hook them into continuing on to the next chapter of the story.
While I have no doubt that all will become clear further down the line, I feel the reader’s enjoyment of the first issue has been sacrificed in order to get the exposition out of the way. This is an opener that has been bogged down through trying to achieve too much. It’s a shame, given how much potential Torchwood has as a concept; a darker, grittier exploration of the ‘Who’ universe? I mean… what’s not to love?!
The supporting artwork does, however, pop off the page thanks to Lusko’s colouring. It’s bright and fantastical, fitting in with the colour schemes largely chosen for the Whoniverse. The panel layouts keep the book fresh and interesting, however unfortunately it’s the artwork itself that lets the book down. While it’s crisp and largely well-rendered, I find the lines almost too sharp, making the artwork appear largely static, as opposed to fluid, as a result.
All in all, this book feels like a series of missed opportunities. It has a strong cast, a series of interesting plot points and vivid artwork. It’s just a shame that all these aspects don’t come together in the end to form a compelling story. That said, it’s important at this point to remember that this is just the first issue; with the set-up out of the way, it could be interesting to see what the Barrowmans are planning for the motley crew aboard the Ice Maiden. If you’re a Torchwood fan, I wouldn’t necessarily write-off the series just yet. Sadly however if you’re not a fan, this book is unlikely to change that.
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The writer of this piece was: Claire Stevenson
Claire Tweets from @cookie___raider.