Written by Noel Clarke | Art by Joshua Cassara | Published by Titan Comics | Format: Paperback, 32pp
The first issue of The Troop was not only a pleasant surprise, but far exceeded my expectations. Written by a novice ‘celebrity’ writer, Noel Clarke, I expected a middle of the road generic something or other. What we did get was a violent, pacy adventure that had all the hallmarks of a popcorn movie, superheroes for grown-ups. A perfect first issue, in that it established the characters and their world alongside setting up a great storyline but leaving just enough to come to make you really look forward to the next issue. The second issue of course is often where a reader decides if he will stick with a book or not, so perhaps even more critical to a title’s success is how it performs a month later.
To briefly recap, the first issue saw us meet Terrain, a girl who can transform into rock and back, rescued by a mysterious soldier/agent who also recruits two others (Virus and Hotshot) forming a sort of superpowers family, a mature readers X-Men/Fantastic Four mash-up. There were rumblings about averting a prophecy as well, though that was left to sit in the background for future exploration. The Troop #2 starts with an origin story for another new character, Willis, as tough and brutal as anything in the first issue. She develops water powers which she can use, er, very interestingly. A little interlude with Terrain and team, then we meet another new character who, with an equally tragic background (I’m beginning to sense a pattern here), fights his way out of a situation with powers that can transmute, or transform, objects. He turns guns into glass, for example.
Noel Clarke shows a real skill in intertwining his overall narrative with the introduction of new characters. It’s not easy to keep a story moving forward while introducing new characters as often a writer gets the balance wrong, but not here. The new character’s stories slot nicely into the overall story arc smoothly and organically, and by the end of the book when they all finally meet it feels right. On the one hand, there is nothing that new here, as Garth Ennis and Warren Ellis has been doing books like this for years (pick up The Boys for one) but I admire the creative and stylish way Noel Clarke has told his story. As has been pointed out, these characters seem like a mature readers X-Men, but then when the X-Men were created back in the 1960′s they owed their creation to The Doom Patrol. A fresh wrinkle on an established idea is never a bad approach.
The art by Cassara is as good as the first issue. Great panel layouts, very expressive and defined characters, nice action sequences and use of powers, just very creative design and execution. A huge help to the story being told. I don’t think many people would finish this disappointed at the story being told, or the quality of the people telling that story, so would really recommend this. Yes it is mature recommended, with violence and sexual content so not for the easily offended, but for everyone else pick it up, it’s most definitely worth your time.
The Troop #2 is out now from Titan Comics