"TRDWTR" Graphic Novel Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by Darkrose Studios
Written by Morgan Rosenblum and Don Macnab-Stark
Illustrated by Ray Dillon
2014, 136 Pages
Graphic Novel released on October 8th, 2014
Since The Dark Knight Returns debuted in 1986, there have been a slew of gritty takes on super heroes. Darkrose Studios is putting their own spin on the sub-genre with a multi-media approach, including comics, a web series, and more with TRDWTR. The title is an abbreviation for Technological Research and Development Working Towards a Resolution (how do you like that, S.H.I.E.L.D.?). Set in a near future in which the Euro has collapsed, Europe lies in ruins and Germany is rising to power under the dictator General Kirklau (sound familiar?). To combat this and other threats, a secret organization is formed using technology to augment and enhance a group of soldiers.
On the surface, TRDWTR looks like your basic black ops group. They just happen to have some of the most advanced technology on the planet to aid them in their missions. Writers Morgan Rosenbum and Don Macnab-Stark shed some light on the human element behind the organization during the downtime between operations. The team leader has a daughter in a coma. Another guy really likes the Yankees. That's actually about it when it comes to the background of the characters.
|Click images to enlarge|
TRDWTR jumps in at a point where the team is already together. This is not an origin story. There's a brief introduction, but that's more about setting the stage for the overall story. There's a character index in the back that provides a bio on each of the main group that might have worked better at the opening of the book as it offers a little more context to their actions. As this is only part of the experience, I felt like I was missing something while reading the comic. Some of this may be explained further in the web series or in the next volume of the graphic novel.
Ray Dillon provides some provides some dynamite artwork with an impressive amount of details. There are panels where you can practically count the freckles on someone's face. There are some occasions where the characters look posed, as if they're waiting to get their picture taken instead of moving. They come across as stiff, which might look good for a poster but doesn't work as well in panels.
|Click images to enlarge|
Dillon's artwork feels large, like he's plotting out a big-budget action movie. I'm sure Darkrose Studios can use this comic as story boards for the web series. The action scenes are epic and Dillon uses the space well, pulling back to provide big full-page or double-page spreads to let you see everything that's going on.
TRDWTR has a lot going for it, but there's a very American approach to the special ops soldiers. Their first instinct is to run in and shoot something despite the fact that they're technological gifts provide them with the best stealth money can buy. With the changes in this volume, I hope the group gets a bit more levelheaded. I'm not all that emotionally invested in the characters just yet as there hasn't been much to go on. The back matter in the book helps, but there's a difference between hearing about someone who is a disgraced detective and seeing how he acts to redeem himself. There's not enough of this in the first graphic novel, but between the web series and the next volume, we'll hopefully see this explored a bit more.