By Noel Clarke and Joshua Cassara
The premise, you will be familiar with but the execution, you will not. Mark Millar describes The Troop as “Fan-bloody-tastic… I loved it!”. Since Mr. Millar once called the NBC! staff “badasses” he must know what he is talking about. If that doesn’t sell you on his wise endorsing words, remember he wrote Jupiter’s Legacy, Kick-Ass and Kingsmen. The man knows a thing or two about teens with powers.
About a month ago I watched an episode of Doctor Who for the first time ever. It was the first episode of the rebooted series. I enjoyed it; I thought it was charming, funny and interesting. Then, just this weekend I watched Star Trek: Into Darkness for the first time since my theatre viewing. I was watching with my girlfriend who had not yet seen it. After the stunning cold open, a man gets out of bed and looks out the window. At this point my girlfriend, who is a Doctor Who fanatic, pauses the movie and says, “That’s Mickey from Doctor Who!” She was very excited about this. I had only seen one episode so my memory of it was quite foggy. I wouldn’t have been able to uncover this without her guiding words. But now, after witnessing her enthusiasm, I would recognize this actor, Noel Clarke, much quicker. Two days ago, only a day after viewing Star Trek, I open up this comic and Noel Clarke’s name is on the cover. Sure enough the Doctor Who/Star Trek actor is in fact the author of the new series The Troop from Titan comics.
The Troop is a story of teens with powers. These children live in a world where a deadly tactical group is aware of their existence, sometimes even before they are, and will stop at nothing to abduct them. The first issue takes us through each of the children and their power discovery. The paths all begin separate but by the end you will see where they all meet up. Since I’m a math guy I’ll break down The Troop formula for you.
The Troop = Rising Stars – over production + compelling characters + maturity level + fantastic art.
Clarke lets you know right away this book is not for the squeamish. He means business and he brought a fantastic artist, Joshua Cassara, to the book so all of those gruesome images jump off of the page. The first character to die in this book is a dog, the second is a grandfather. Clarke and Cassara lay down the law right from page one.
Clarke’s experience as an actor, screenwriter and director are huge assets as he ventures into the world of panels and speech bubbles. The Troop starts off fast and doesn’t let up. The first issue is a perfectly constructed opening, much like the first episode of a television series would be. It is full of action from the very first scene. However, the character work is also top notch as Clarke delivers the background we will need for all of the main players. The inner monologue boxes cleverly switch color as we jump from character to character eventually all of them ending up in the same place. The layout and the pacing of the book is exhilarating, it will have no issue keeping your attention for the duration of the first chapter.
Cassara’s work is fantastic. He creates cinematic fast moving action scenes, making sure to sprinkle in the death and destruction whenever it is needed. However, it is the scenery that really stands out to me. Cassara is incredible at setting the scene in this book. From a church sanctuary as the sun is setting to a rainy wet forest in the dark of night. He transports the reader right into the pages. I feel like I am right alongside these characters, feeling the sun on my face or the puddles under my shoes. Setting the scene is only the starting block though, he also fills the panel’s with detailed character representations. Faces and expressions are extremely detailed. Cassara utilizes line work and shadows to set the right mood, while adding precision to the facial expressions. In a book where a lot of bad things happen it becomes exponentially more affecting when we see intent on the wrong doers face, or terror in the victims eyes. These pages are very nice to look at.
Clarke and Cassara join forces to bring an interesting, compelling, mature and beautiful look at a few super powered teens on the run. With literally nothing and no one left to lose these characters will come together and learn how to live in a world that doesn’t want them.