Published on December 9th, 2015 | by JCDoyle0
The Troop #1 Review
With the release of The Troop, Noel Clarke adds another string to his every expanding bow. Writer, director, actor and confessed comic book Fan, it’s no surprise that Clarke would eventually get involved in the comic book world and for a first outing he’s made it look easy.
The Troop begins with a collection of super powered misfits who are forced together when they are hunted by a covert military organisation. There is one character who is clued in on what’s going on, in the broader sense, but the others are lost in a frightening and violent world. It definitely has the ring of innocence being lost and isn’t always a comfortable read.
If you are familiar with Noel Clarke (he’s currently filming the third in his ‘Hood’ series of movies) you’ll know that he doesn’t shy away from difficult subject matter. It’s safe to say this comic is not safe for work; it has full frontal nudity, extreme violence centre stage and a number of grotesque scenes that’ll turn your stomach. But I wouldn’t say this is just a super hero story with gritty real life strapped to it, no, this is real life with super powered mutation used as a metaphor for the outcast characters. At its heart The Troop appears to be about the fear of the unknown, in the same way as the original X-Men; there is the fear of the state, a fear of bullying, a fear of loss and, most importantly at this early juncture, a fear of one’s own actions. A lot of bad things happen in this comic and not all of it at the hands of the gun wielding villains.
Clarke proves his writing abilities in this first issue, being able to transfer his screenwriting skills over flawlessly to a different visual medium. This is obviously helped by the amazing art work of J. Cassara who renders some highly detailed panels and produces character work that is spot on for this type of comic. It’s a super hero comic but not in the capes and cowls style of the main two publishers. I would say it’s more grounded with the emphasis on the people and not the costumes or even the powers (despite the fact they play a large role in the proceedings). The fear and hatred of one of the characters is expressed in a single, close up panel and speaks volumes more than the excessive violence that is going on all around it.
As debuts go The Troop reminds me of Jonathan Ross’ Turf, not in narrative content but in intention and confidence. Just like Ross’ first work, this has a lot of ideas all in play from the outset and this could be a difficult juggling act but Clarke and Cassara don’t drop a single ball. And just as you think you’re getting the measure of the comic, Clarke throws in a curve ball which makes you sit up and pay attention. There is an origin story for one of the characters that is very hard hitting and this is contrasted against another with a more traditional comic book monster but it doesn’t take a genius to see that these villains are of the same stock, it’s just one actually exists in the real world. This simply strengthens the impact and makes the entire thing more relatable. That is one of Clarkes’ knacks as a writer, he knows how to draw you in.
This first issue is engaging and horrifying and entertaining all at the same time. You’ll be put through the wringer but it’s worth it as Clarke and Cassara steer you through the pages to the cliff-hanger ending featuring the first glimpse of Torrent, a character described as ‘a tsunami of vengeance’. Now that doesn’t sound like it’s going to end well.
Title: The Troop
Publisher: Titan Comics
Writer: Noel Clarke
Artist: J. Cassara
Colours: Luis Guerrero