King Tiger #1 Dark Horse Comics ~ What'cha Reading?

King Tiger #1 Dark Horse Comics

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King Tiger #1 Dark Horse ComicsI was asked recently by Chuck if I could review Dark Horse’s King Tiger #1.

Now, I won’t tell you that I have advanced knowledge in Asian Mythology, but I do know my fair share (especially Japanese Mythology) so I figured having this knowledge would come in handy. And, after reading the tagline for the comic, I thought I was in for something new, refreshing, dark and very Eastern influenced.

The Tagline?
Blood, death, and fire—the darkest kind of magic. A monstrous secret from King Tiger’s past has found the mystic warrior, but can Tiger’s skills and sorcery triumph against an unthinkable supernatural obscenity linked to his own destiny? If the Tiger falls, the Dragon will rise!

Pretty strong tagline, no? But, unfortunately, what I was treated to was nothing new or unique, taking one part Seventh Son and a dash of Big Trouble in Little China. The issue starts off somewhat strong, but loses steam extremely fast.

The issue opens up with a series of kidnappings that have been taking place just prior to the comics start. The reasons for these kidnappings aren’t quite clear. All we know is whomever is behind these ghastly acts are pretty nasty people.

The story soon changes and we are introduced to Milo and Rikki. Milo has just become (for a lack of a better term) Tiger’s caddy. This is what reminds me of Seventh Son. He’s the novice and ill experienced, young-“ish” apprentice who we are here to live out the adventure through. He looks like across between Jeff Bridges from the Big Lebowski and Sean Penn from Fast Times at Ridgemont High.

Then there is Rikki (Tiger’s girlfriend). She is here to help set the pace of the story as she catches the reader up to speed with the “plot.”

As for the script, written by Randy Stradley (Star Wars, Aliens vs. Predator), just doesn’t work. The overtly predictable dialogue and attempts at witty humor make the book feel rushed or a complete afterthought. I want to believe in King Tiger, but for most of the book we get hardly any involvement with him. Milo is uninteresting; he has little to no chemistry with Rikki or Tiger and fails in the sarcasm department.

As for Rikki, she seems to make less sense than Milo. She is Tiger’s better half, yet the attempt at personal attachment fails. It almost reads as if Rikki is just there so Milo and Tiger have, what I assume, is some type of love interest. She is supposed to be smart but, mostly, she is Tiger’s benefactor and has a liking for pink vehicles.

KingTiger1panel

The artwork maybe more of a problem than anything else. King Tiger is illustrated by Doug Wheatley, of Star Wars and Aliens fame. But, what he does right for licensed properties doesn’t always work for original content like this. His thin, super “liney” artwork makes the characters look sometimes too real and yet, his off proportions take you completely out of the story. The lack of dynamic panels also makes some of his better pages look way too flat and uninteresting. We have far too many wide angles with so much wasted space and then when we do get close-ups, they seem to be as far as physically possible from the reader.

This book is supposed to be about King Tiger and we go 6 pages in before we see Tiger and when we do, it falls face down. The artist fails to deliver the importance of King Tiger. Too many wide angles kills his mystical presence.

King Tiger is a great character who has been around for nearly 22 years. His concept is great but for some unknown reason, this comic falls too far down the rabbit hole to ever recover and I can’t honestly recommend this issue to anyone for any reason.

King Tiger’s first appearance was in Comic’s Greatest World: Vortex #3 (September 1993). He has magic powers and divine abilities. He is skilled at archery, stealth, agility, leadership and has martial arts expertise. His tools of the trade are the bow & arrow and sword.

All this I got from comic vine, none of this is shown, they wasted the next three pages showing off his weapon room when, instead of making a sad homage to Casey Jones, they could have spent more time on the getting to the meat of the story. King Tiger is a superhero from another dimension who hunts demons in the Dark Horse Universe. Yet, I felt like I was reading an intro to a failed reboot of some sad 80’s action show.

In the end, I can’t honestly rate this title and at best, I will say it’s a pass. Dark Horse has so many great titles and there are other books about demons that drive it home. This isn’t one of them. King Tiger should be Dr. Strange meets Turok meets Bruce Lee and all we got was a silly buddy romcom.

King Tiger #1 
Randy Stradley (W), Doug Wheatley (A)
On sale August 12

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