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Tokyo Storm Warning #1 By Matt Martin
Homage Comics Ė Warren Ellis (w); James Raiz (p); Andrew Currie (i)
I hate stories about big robots.
An interesting way to start a review, donít you think? By proclaiming your dislike for the genre? And youíd think that, based on that comment, my review of Tokyo Storm Warning was going to be exceedingly negative. If you thought that, youíd be half-right.
Ellis lays out the backstory for this book quick-and-dirty style, throwing out plot details as he moves the action along. Zoe Flynn is an American pilot in Tokyo. Simple enough, except Flynn is trained to pilot an Arcangel, a form of giant battle armor that the people of Tokyo use to battle threats to their sovereignty. To how and why of the armorís existence is almost brushed aside, explained as nothing less than pure mystery, that they simply appeared, unmanned but otherwise unharmed, in Tokyo Bay. Recovered by the military, they were eventually reverse-engineered to work for human operators and put into testing just in time to oppose what has become a regular onslaught of giant monsters, the likes of which are rarely scene outside of Saturday afternoon cable television.
Although Flynn encounters some resistance to her presence by the personnel at the Arcangel launch facility, she is fast-tracked towards a genuine field-testing when the mysteriously appearing creatures begin a new assault immediately following her arrival on-site. Fitted with a control suit, she is injected into the liquid-metal core of the Arcangel itself, which conforms to her body and transforms itself into a control terminal. Sent out to provide back-up for the teamís leader (there are three Arcangels, incidentally, one of which is down at the time of her arrival), Zoe finds herself as the lone hope for the projectís survival when Arcangel Oneís docking bay malfunctions, preventing him from exiting the facility. Faced by gargantuan creatures that are simply the stuff of nightmares and B-movies, Flynn brushes aside her rookie jitters and enters the frayÖTo find that her weapons have no effect, other than to further irritate the already exceedingly-hostile beasts.
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So thatís the sum of the opening issue of this three issue mini. Itís an interesting way to kick things off, throwing the reader into the thick of it from the get-go. And it works, mostly because our protagonist is in the same boat as we are, trying to assimilate quickly in a rapidly changing environment. Overall, itís an entertaining read, in a popcorn fun sort of way and Raiz and Currie turn in a solid performance artistically, rendering the battlesuits with all the overblown detail of quality anime.
The problem I have though isnít with the book itself. Itís with the bookís writer. I read Tokyo Storm Warning and I enjoy it. Then I remember that itís a Warren Ellis book and Iím more than a little let down. I think to myself, ďCímon, this is Warren EllisÖĒ
This is the man who gave us Transmetropolitan, Authority and Planetary, hands-down some of the best material published in the latter days of the 20th century and onward (and hell, has Planetary even seen the shelf this century? Doesnít feel that way.). So I sit here, I realize this and Iím forced to ask, ďThis is the best he could do? Bull.Ē
Itís unfair, I know, to judge a new book based on the authorís previous work. A critic should try to analyze any work based solely on its own merits. But itís just really hard for me to do that with the recent work that Ellis has done, because it simply feels like heís phoning these in for the paycheck alone, not because he has anything truly original to say.
So, let me reiterate, but in a different fashion. If this were written by anyone but Ellis (or someone else of his caliber of ability), Iíd have been satisfied. If this were the work of a new creator, I might be impressed. But as it standsÖwell, Warren, I just expect more from you.