Written by Noel Clarke | Art by Joshua Cassara | Published by Titan Comics | Format: Paperback, 32pp
Along with Johnny Red, The Troop has consistently been at the top of my list to read whenever a new issue appears. Both books have been of an as high, if not even higher, quality as Marvel and DC, and should be getting more exposure and recognition. The Troop has by far been the biggest surprise, as scripter Noel Clarke knew his way around a screenplay but had never written comics before. His top quality storytelling, pacing and characterisation came as something of a surprise, but a very pleasant one. The best way I could describe this is as a mature readers X-Men/ Fantastic Four hybrid, and with the huge success of Deadpool at the cinema don’t be surprised if movie studios looking for mature readers comic book properties option The Troop for a future movie. Hey, it’s already been storyboarded for them after all.
I like to pick out the theme of an issue, or themes, as I review them and for me the theme this issue is destiny. The issue opens with a character musing that the only reasons this dysfunctional group of super powered individuals are together are that they have nowhere else to go, and that they have nothing. A nicely narrated recap of sorts at the beginning brings us up to speed on what has been happening, and by the issue’s end events have occurred that have forced the characters to look at themselves and accept that it is no longer a question of what they can be, but what they must be. Destiny.
The narration technique continues throughout most of the early part of the issue, and works really well. It gives us the humanity of the characters, helps us see the characters through another characters eyes rather than just objectively reading about them. It also enables the writer to give the reader a lot of background information without it feeling clunky, being an organic part of the story. By the time the story moves on, we’ve learnt a bit more about Edwards, the house where they all live, and the ‘heroes’ themselves. We won’t feel engaged in the story if we can’t feel for the characters, and this issue helped me deepen my interest in these guys quite a bit. Real people who just happen to have powers.
Being kind, this is a treading water kind of issue, but it is also a necessary issue. There is a lot of characterisation here, a lot about characters finding themselves, bonding with certain other house members, and ultimately finding that focus that up to now has not existed. The focus comes when all these individuals become a team, simply by realising they do have one thing in common, and that is a desire to find other super powered kids. To help them, to get them out of bad situations they may be in and providing a safe place to be. To be their family. As tough and enigmatic as Edwards, their benefactor, has been, you suspect this is what he has been guiding them towards from the start.
The Troop #4 is another strong issue, full of nice scenes, nice dialogue, and real people (as real as super powered comic book types can be of course). Noel Clarke’s pacing and technique is pretty much flawless. The writing is elevated by the art too, just the right amount of panels every page to suit the story. The art itself is technically very nice, a little gritty at times when needed, and mainly smaller panels this time round as there is a lot of text and story to illustrate. It is a credit to Cassara that no page or panel feels cluttered. A case of a writer and artist in perfect storytelling synch with each other. As apparent from this issue the story has plenty of legs left yet and shows little sign of running out of steam.
Which is nice, as this is one book I want to just keep on going.
The Troop #4 is out now from Titan Comics