torchbearerI picked up the first issue of Torchbearer at C2E2 2013 with my hopes set pretty high. It is written by Nicolas Dedual, and illustrated by Dennis Calero. The comic was first published by Oddtruth during October of 2012. I was excited to see that an indie comic being featured at a booth during a convention. I always enjoy supporting indie comics when I have the chance, because there’s a chance for a truly amazing story to be uncovered. In Torchbearer’s case, the story takes place in a futuristic setting where corporations are buying up solar systems as fast as they can and no one’s really sure why.

Now, the only reason I know this is because that’s what I was told before I bought the comic. The first issue of this comic doesn’t really explain any of that to the reader.

Actually, I think that’s the biggest gripe I had about Torchbearer. The first issue didn’t really do a whole lot. Normally, issue 1’s are supposed to be filled with action/suspense/intrigue; something to hook the reader into wanting to continue buying the comic. Torchbearer tried to do that by using a mixture of fancy technology, a few vague conversations, and an explosion (granted, I do love explosions), but all the attempts to get me invested just ended up feeling contrived. 

I think the reason it turned out like this is a combination of awkward illustration and a lack of description.

The illustration isn’t bad by any means. Everything is drawn very well and the coloring in this comic is extraordinarily pretty. The scenes inside the panels were what felt awkward. It sometimes felt like character’s actions were drawn out for a number of panels just so the page could be filled, and the story could move to a new scene.

The awkward illustration could have been overlooked if it had been accompanied by a description of what was happening. I remember reading an old Dazzler comic where she blasted someone in the face with her dazzle-beams (that’s the scientific name for them, if anyone was curious), and then proceeded to talk, to no one in particular, about how she had overloaded the bad guy’s senses and stunned him. At the time, I thought the level of explanation was sort of unnecessary, but after reading through Torchbearer, I understand why it’s necessary. When you’ve only got a series of still frame snap shots in which to explain both the scene and how it’s unfolding (as well as the plot), description through captions and character dialogue is next to invaluable.

I know Torchbearer is supposed to be a sci-fi mystery story, so outright explanation of what’s happening is kept to a minimum as to keep the reader on their toes/make it more rewarding when they do finally piece together the puzzle, but enough information has to be present to hook the reader into the plot.

The other major issue I had with the comic were the plot holes that happened at the very beginning of the comic. It happens on the fourth page. In the first three pages we’re shown an impressive city-scape filled with flying cars, a portal that is used to transport a object between two locations, and a watch that is part of a woman’s arm. Then a fist sized red ball is thrown at that woman with “STOP” spelled out in big white letters. So she does, and as a result, narrowly misses being incinerated by an explosion. Immediately after this, two guards escort her away to a safe location.

First: A ball. Seriously? Unless in the future there is a store that specializes in making vibrantly colored balls with words on them, it means that someone had to manufacture that ball specifically to throw at someone in just such an occasion. Even if someone were trying to avoid the use of technology so their signal can’t be traced, I feel like there are easier/less convoluted way to send a message discretely.

Second: Let’s operate, for a moment, under the assumption that it made sense to use a bright red ball to send a discrete message to someone. The guards who ran up to her after the explosion don’t react at all to the bright red ball that says “STOP” on it. Doesn’t that seem a little suspicious, considering the explosion that just went off?

Maybe this is one of those things that is explained in later issues of the comic and, with said explanation, makes perfect (or at least enough) sense; but it was really immersion breaking for me because of how awkward and forced things felt in order to move the story along.

Despite all this, I don’t think that Torchbearer is a bad comic, just sort of lack luster. The plot (the one that was pitched to me, anyway) sounds like it has the potential to be a really cool and engaging story. It just sort of fell short on the first issue.

If you really feel like supporting a small time/indie comic, you might feel good about picking up this comic. Otherwise, I would give this one a miss.

About The Author

Things I love: Video games, comics, steampunk, space
Things I like: Cyberpunk, hard cider, not being in the sun, pokemon
Things I dislike: The sun

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