Publisher: Titan Comics
Writers: Ollie Masters, Alex Paknadel
Artist: Budi Setiawan
Colours: Brad Simpson
Lettering: Jim Campbell
Release Date: 8th May 2019
In the latest intriguing licensed property to be given the comic book treatment by Titan, writers Alex Paknadel and Ollie Masters have teamed up with artist Budi Setiawan to bring us a brand new story set in the world of The Raid, Gareth Evans’ critically acclaimed martial arts action movies.
This four-part tale introduces us to new face Teja, a virtuous special operations police officer who gets ideas above his station and tries to take down sadistic crime boss Bejo. Unfortunately, his attempts to rail against the corrupt system end up failing, with his target being let off scot-free and Teja being locked up in a Jakartan prison for his trouble.
However, as fate would have it, he ends up in the very same prison where Rama (the star of both movies, played by Iko Uwais) is working undercover to get close to mobster’s son Uco. The pair strike up a relationship, with the Rama – under the alias of Yuda – stepping up to project the young cop as Bejo looks to exact his revenge, bringing some familiar faces into the fold to handle his dirty work.
Masters and Paknadel deserve a lot of credit for putting together a series that compliments the main cinematic storyline without overshadowing or undermining it in any way. It slots seamlessly into the big-screen narrative, showing us what happened in the time between Uco and Rama’s releases from prison. The mix of established and new characters works well, and it’s great to see the ridiculously skilled and effortlessly cool Hammer Girl, Baseball Bat Man and The Assassin (gotta love those names) doing their thing one more time.
Much like the films, the narrative here is carried heavily by the frequent action sequences. However, while artist Budi Setiawan does a stellar job of bringing these increasingly brutal skirmishes to the page, they don’t flow quite as beautifully as their big-screen counterparts. That’s probably an unrealistic expectation though, particularly when you’re talking about one of the most jaw-dropping action movie double-headers in recent years, and to his credit Setiawan does everything he can to capture the distinctive, beautifully violent choreography in his artwork.
For a new character, Teja gets an impressively well-rounded story arc, mixing heroism and tragedy as he tries and fails to do the right thing in what is a bleak, unforgiving world. Without delving into spoilers, things don’t necessarily go all that well for him, but there’s something about his unflinching dedication and resilience that really draws you into his story.
At the end of the day this is an enjoyable, if perhaps non-essential, addition to the movie canon, and if you’re the fan of Gareth Edwards’ big-screen version – which I’m assuming everybody is, because it’s awesome – then this brutal, action-packed expansion of the mythos of The Raid is more than worth a look.