Turning Tiger is the story of an escaped military robot, the sinister government agency tasked with tracking it down, and the young girl it befriends. Enthusiasts of 1980s cinema — the golden era of film, I’m sure you’ll agree — will recognize this as the plot of Short Circuit, although to be fair there is a bit more to it.
It’s all done in the style of a Saturday morning cartoon, with the robots as big, chunky things decked out in bright primary colours, evocative of a toy line that does not yet exist, and expressive character designs reminiscent of stuff like the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles revival series or Jeff Matsuda’s Jackie Chan Adventures work.
That said, Alex Moore’s bright and cheerful art style is a bit misleading, as the story does take a rather dark twist, one that puts it into more adult territory and causes something of a clash in tone. What I can’t figure out is if the clash harms the book, or if the contrast is a deliberate aesthetic tactic; I lean toward the former, as the intent seems to be to create a fun, all-ages type of comic.
In his afterword, writer Richmond Clements mentions that Turning Tiger was written as a longer piece, about twice as long, but his editor convinced him to truncate the story. Clements also mentions that his first instinct was to ignore this advice, and I suspect that this instinct was correct, as there is a rushed feel to the writing. The big action sequence in the second half of the book is over and done with rather too quickly and never feels like a proper climax, but the biggest casualty is the characterization of the antagonists.
They come across more as sketches than proper, rounded characters, in large part due to their dialogue, which tends to fall into cliché or self-description for the reader’s benefit rather than anything real people might say. I attribute this to the truncated length of the story, as the aforementioned young girl and her family are given a bit more room and as such are much better realised, including some subtle foreshadowing of the big twist.
It’s not the strongest debut one could wish for this title, but both Clements and Moore — in her first published comics appearance — show great potential, and it’s only the length of the story that undermines their good work.
Find out more about Turning Tiger at Renegade Art Entertainment.
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.