08th Aug2018

‘The Raid #1′ Review (Titan Comics)

by Dean Fuller

Written by Ollie Masters | Art by Budi Setiawan | Published by Titan Comics

The-Raid-01-Cover-D-Budi-Setiawan

The words ‘cult hit’ are bandied around a lot these days, perhaps a bit too freely. Rather like the over use of the word ‘supermodel’, but don’t get me started on that… The Raid film, and subsequent pop culture love, actually passed me by back in 2011. Sure I had heard of it in passing, but never really thought enough of it to actually watch the film. It seems that was a mistake, if all the stuff I see all over the internet is anything to go by. So, while I am going to go and watch the films at some point, I am coming in to this review as a complete neutral, which may on balance actually be a good thing.

For fans of the films, you can skip most of this next paragraph. For newbie’s like me, a quick potted history is required before reading. The first film, The Raid, appeared in 2011, essentially a martial arts movie from Indonesia. It was, to use another overused phrase, a game-changer, in the sense it combines brutal fight scenes with cinematic style, a sort of modern Peckinpah if you like. The story was exciting, but again nothing new. A SWAT team was trapped in a building owned by a crime lord who wants them dead, and they have to fight their way out floor by floor. A sort of vertical Assault on Precinct 13. Fans loved it, and in 2014 a new movie appeared, Raid:Redemption, to prove there was a lot of life left in the concept yet.

And that life has returned in the form of a comic book, as more and more ‘sequels’ do these days. Hey, unlimited special effects budgets and perfect camera shots, what’s not to love with comic books. This mini-series takes place during The Raid 2, and luckily includes a page that both explains a little of the films premise, and also shows us the main characters with a quick bio of each. The story starts with Rama, a special forces Jakarta cop, undercover in prison trying to bring down the criminal empire of Bejo, a powerful Jakarta crime boss. Those seem to be the two light bulbs around which all the flies gather in this story.

The story really kicks off with a police raid, by Officer Teja, on a nightclub where Bejo currently is. The raid runs into trouble when Bejo’s top assassins, The Assassin, Hammer Girl, and Baseball Bat Man (hey, they do what it says on the tin) fight back. Teja manages to get Bejo, and takes him to the police station. Turns out this was an unsanctioned raid by Teja, fed up with crime bosses running riot all over Jakarta. Bejo, of course, gets released before you can say ‘money talks’. Rama, meanwhile, is both stuck in prison and now known to be police. Things aren’t looking too great for him, though he proves adept at both manipulation of events and defending himself when he needs to. We get treated to a multi-page, bone crunching prison fight that’s truly eye-watering.

That’s where we leave it this issue, and as the reader it leaves you a little underwhelmed. What we get is decent enough, very good in fact. Very fast moving, very slick and violent, all the boxes ticked in terms of honouring the films, but little else. Little in the way of explanation, no character introduction or development, and very light on text and dialogue. I greatly enjoyed the very cinematic way it was portrayed though, Budi Setiawan doing a fine job on the art and Brad Simpson with some very nice colours. The art makes sure the pace from page to page is quick, and the fight scenes are as brutal on the page as they probably are on screen. What there was I really enjoyed, just wished we had a little more to get excited about. A ten minute read, tops.

This has all the ingredients to be a great book, and I’m getting the feeling this issue was like a starter before the main course appears. This issue was good, looked fantastic, but just needs a little more meat on those tasty bones.

***½  3.5/5

The Raid #1 is out now from Titan Comics.

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