By Cavan Scott, Andie Tong, Marcio Menyz, Russ Seal & Jimmy Betancourt
As Tekken 7 nears its release in June, Titan Comics releases a new comic based on the popular fighting game franchise. Now, in full disclosure, my knowledge of Tekken is extremely limited, so without proper context I won’t be able to speak in-depth to whether dialogue is in or out of character or if the plots fits in well with the overall mythology of the series. With that being said, this review will look at how well it holds up in this visual medium. The comic does a nice job of introducing readers to the main players of the story and how they fit into what will unfold in the forthcoming pages.
The book (and assuming the games as well) focuses around three generations of men in the Mishima clan and their power struggle. After causing massive havoc to try to defeat a demon to cleanse his bloodline of an infection known as the Devil Gene, the youngest, Jin Kazama, has disappeared. His father and grandfather now search for him, so they can eliminate him and retain control of the two largest rival conglomerates in the world. Several fighters from the King of Iron Fist Tournament have aligned themselves with either of the Mishima factions and that is where this comic starts off. A young fighter, Ling Xiaoyu, is ambushed by assassins sent by Jin’s father, Kazuya. She is saved by two other recognizable fighters, Paul Phoenix and Nina Williams. After the dust settles, revelations are made as Ling embarks on an unexpected journey and most certainly battles…
As one can tell, the mythos of Tekken is complex and intriguing, so the comic definitely has those strong elements in place going into this series. Cavan Scott does a fine job of making the comic accessible to an uninitiated audience, but it does become redundant. Whenever a new character is introduced, there is a narration box giving a little detail on them, but those same characters were already chronicled in the introductory pages of the comic. There was really no need for those boxes. Now, if the book is for a younger demographic this may play out better, but it’s a little condescending to older readers. Basically, it’s a misuse of page space and poor comic design.
In terms of the narrative in this issue, it’s fairly thin. Almost half of the issue is devoted fight and chase scenes, which is fine considering the source material, but the dialogue is full of generic quips during these pages that just makes the material bland and dull. The plot goes on hold during the battles and makes the book unbalanced. Also, the whole reason why Ling was sought after, causing the major conflict of the issue, is basically retconned by the end of the issue. The dialogue is basically reduced to one-liners and expository dialogue/conversations. Scott doesn’t let the words and moments breathe and rushes to the next story beat. There’s clearly plenty of family drama and conflict that can be explored, so hopefully this creative team will capitalize on the rich background in forthcoming issues.
The artwork and design are textbook, which is fine, but it becomes a tad stale by the last page. Jimmy Betancourt and Andie Tong have the action and other intense moments depicted in jagged or angled panels, while the rest are formatted in the standard square and rectangular forms. It’s what one would expect. They don’t challenge or stray from that structure, which would serve this material quite well. Character expressions are done well and capture naturalistic looks that can keep the audience connected to the comic. This also applies to the fight choreography; the postures are believable, yet still capture the momentum necessary for solid action sequences.
The lettering of Russ Seal and the color work of Marcio Menyz really come together to deliver the whole package in terms kinetic illustrations. The sound effects are placed nicely to not interrupt or cover up the behaviors or movement in the panels. The onomatopoeia conveys the intended sounds fittingly. Menyz uses strong colors to work with Tong’s heavy inking. He maintains the forms, but it lacks texture due, in part, to adhering to the thick lines. It feels flat consistently throughout. There is one panel where Kazuya punches a wall using a technique and Marcio Menyz really makes the moment stand out by making the appearance and color of the move drastically different from everything else around it.
Overall, this inaugural issue of Tekken is mediocre. Again, this comic may resonate more with young readers and/or fans of the franchise, but, as it stands, there just doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of substance for the regular comic fan.