Magic and mystery combine in King Tiger #1 as the titular hero must look into an emerging force that could undo the balance he has worked hard to achieve. Is it good?
King Tiger #1 (Dark Horse Comics)
For the purposes of full disclosure, I want to warn readers King Tiger #1 opens on a scene that could be a trigger for those who have ever experienced abduction and/or sexual violence and this review will go into details on that scene below.
King Tiger #1 opens in Hoyo Grande, Nevada, as a young woman walks from the casino to her car in a parking lot. She is grabbed by two men who throw her into the back of a van where a third man waits to drive them off. The abduction never takes on any aspect of sexual violence, though when the men meet their potential buyer, the implication is that woman may have been sold into sexual slavery. The sequence is harrowing but Randy Stradley’s script gives the scene an added sense of supernatural terror. Captions speak to humanity’s belief in hope and the futility therein. This opening isn’t quite what one might expect from a comic with King Tyger‘s cover, but it does a good job of setting up the sense of danger for the series.
From this scene, readers are introduced to Milo, a young man in the employ of King Tiger. Milo has found himself staying with King Tiger and Tiger’s girlfriend, Rikki. The issue doesn’t quite go into how Milo came to meet King Tiger, instead referring readers to the backup chapters that appeared in the series Blackout. While it’s understandable to avoid retreading the same information, for readers attracted to the comic by the number one on the cover, it’s going to be a slight disappointment not to be introduced to who these characters are.
This wouldn’t necessarily be a problem on its own, but Stradley’s script maintains a mysterious aura about the titular King Tiger. It’s made clear that he is a sorcerer, and that his magic works through accompanying physical actions, but his motivations aren’t entirely clear. Ultimately, reading King Tiger #1 can feel like you’ve walked into a movie ten minutes late. Yes, you’ll catch on eventually, but until you do, it’s going to be a little bumpy. Other than this problem, Stradley’s script is engaging and a bit of fun. As enigmatic as King Tiger can be, he’s got a bit of humor to him and that goes a long way towards making an engaging lead. But where King Tiger #1 sets itself apart is in the artwork.
Doug Wheatley’s art is extremely detailed, and that gives his characters a lifelike quality that helps an issue like this, which is a little heavier on the dialogue side. In addition, the realism helps the supernatural elements pop on the page. When King Tiger opens a door to another dimension and an alien being approaches, the alien appears just as real as Tiger does. Color artist Rain Beredo does a great job highlighting the best aspects of Wheatley’s art. The colors never overtake the details in the linework, and Beredo’s own meticulous shading enhances the verisimilitude of the issue. In addition to the great character work, both artists seem able to transition from scene to scene without missing a beat. While much of the issue takes place within Rikki’s elaborate home, the artwork feels just as natural and well-realized there as it does in the desert that surrounds the city. And as things heat up at the end of the issue, Wheatley and Beredo show their ability to take on the weird.
Is It Good?
King Tiger #1 is a fun but imperfect debut. Randy Stradley’s script leans a little too heavily on readers knowing who these characters from previous books, and as a result, the issue isn’t particularly inviting to new readers. That being said, there’s a lot to like in the issue, and the art by Douglas Wheatley is incredibly detailed and made all the more lifelike by Rain Beredo’s stellar color art.
King Tiger #1 is due in stores on August 12.