Review: Halcyon & Tenderfoot #1

A comic review article by: Kelvin Green

Halcyon is the greatest hero of Brink City, but he is not as young as he used to be and has introduced a new sidekick, the speedster Tenderfoot, in order to help him battle the next generation of crime. Tenderfoot's debut has not been met with universal approval however, and old enemies have taken the opportunity to resurface.

The editorial makes it clear that Halcyon & Tenderfoot is aimed at younger readers, and the bold, The Incredibles-like art style and simple, direct plotting support that contention. The editorial further stresses that good comics are good comics and can be enjoyed by readers of any age -- those who remember how Marvel Adventures Avengers was during its run the best of the Avengers titles will know this to be true -- and while this is a noble sentiment, I can't help but feel that the creators are selling themselves short a little.

There are some interesting complexities in the comic, aspects which might prove difficult for children -- and even some adults -- to process. Halcyon himself is at first glance a generic Big Boy Scout type of hero, a bit of Superman here, a bit of Buzz Lightyear there, but there's a sense of weariness and bitterness to him. He led a team of heroes, but disenchanted with what he saw as their weak morals, disbanded the group and retired from superheroics for a while. Upon his return, he is quick with jibes at his less-than-heroic -- again, to his eyes -- comrades and Tenderfoot is his attempt to create the perfect superhero.

Already this makes for a character with far more depth than at first appears, but when one considers that Tenderfoot is Halcyon's son, things get even more complex. Clifford and Robinson go to some lengths to show that on some level Halcyon wishes his son could have a normal life, but he has still made the decision to raise his own flesh and blood to be an icon or symbol, to treat him as a thing instead of a person. As such, he reminds me less of Superman, or even Mr. Incredible, but more of flawed idealists like The High from Stormwatch or even Adrian Veidt.

Also interesting -- and perhaps invisible to younger readers -- is that a mother figure is conspicuously absent from the family. Although there is a robot butler of some sort -- who does at one point take on a female aspect -- Halcyon appears to be a single father. Tenderfoot's mother is not mentioned at all in the issue, which might mean that it's buried trauma, or that father and son are getting along just fine without such a figure in their lives. The latter strikes me as the most interesting option, but both would be different and brave.

Lee Robinson's art is bouncy and energetic. His character designs are full of personality and his storytelling is strong throughout, aside from one rather crucial moment at the climax of the issue where the sequence of events is only made clear by the final page and is not supported as well as it could be by the preceding panels. There are also a few places where Robinson's linework looks a bit sketchy; the cartoony approach is one that works best with a certain level of confidence but on occasion -- and it is only a handful of panels -- the art looks half-hearted and almost unfinished.

I must admit that when I first saw the cover, I though I might have trouble reviewing Halcyon & Tenderfoot, as while I can enjoy a comic aimed at young readers, I can also often struggle to engage with them on the level required to put together a review. That said, the more I thought about the comic, the more I realized that it might be more complex than it had first appeared. I might be wrong, I might be reading far too much into it, but it's enough that I'm interested to read more and see if my suspicions are correct.

 


 

Kelvin Green erupted fully formed from the grey shapeless mass of Ubbo Sathla in the dark days before humans walked the earth. He grew up on Judge Dredd, Transformers, Indiana Jones #12, The Avengers and Spider-Man, and thinks comics don't get much better than FLCL, Nextwave and Rocket Raccoon. Kelvin lives among garbage and seagulls and doesn't hate Marvel nearly as much as you all think he does.

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