It took me a moment to remember why I preordered Titanium Rain in the first place. At first glance, it appears to be a straight up war comic with no particular science fictional angle. Not that I don’t enjoy a good war comic, but I recalled ordering it with a view towards reviewing it for this site. Then, upon further examination, I noticed a 4-panel appearance by a mecha in the opening fight scene, and also that the supplementary maps are dated 2031. Those are your only indications that the story doesn’t take place today.
The aforementioned battle, by the way, comprises the first five pages of the issue, and is the only actual combat that takes place in this ostensible war comic. U.S. soldiers are in enemy territory and under fire, in the midst of a massive Chinese civil war. The scene is compelling and well-rendered, but it’s over in a blink. Frustratingly, once we turn away from this locale we never return to it and none of the characters appear again or are even mentioned for the remainder of the issue.
Instead, the scene switches to an air base off of mainland China, where a squad of pilots spend the bulk of the issue playing poker. My mind boggled at how long this scene drags on, as the squad captain attempts some convoluted metaphor as to how poker is a reflection of the ongoing conflict. I suppose writer Josh Finney is trying to figure out a way to squeeze in an explanation of who is fighting who and why, but this scene of talking heads sitting around a table goes on for what seems like an eternity (it’s actually 9 pages of a 23 page story) and by the end I was still at a loss as to the point Captain Schilling was trying to make.
The photo-realistic artwork in this comic is far more interesting than the writing. The faces of the characters are so unique and distinct that Kat Rocha clearly used real-life models for everyone, of which I approve. Many comic artists seem unable to draw different character faces, to the point where the only way to tell them apart in some books is by their hair styles and clothing. In this comic, it’s very easy to differentiate all of the characters-- even thought all they do is sit around B.S.ing for most of the comic.
Finally towards the end of this issue the pilots are called to arms and hop in their planes. Clearly something exciting may occur-- next issue!
I was both surprised and a little frustrated when I learned that the descriptive blurb on the back cover of this issue reveals more about what’s going on in this comic than the actual comic. According to the synopsis “civil war in China spirals into world conflict. Nations are destroyed. Millions are killed.” It does? They are? Although it’s obvious there’s fighting going on in China, nothing in the actual issue indicates that there is this level of carnage and devastation going on worldwide. “And for many, like US Air Force pilot Alec Killian…” What? Killian is meant to be this story’s protagonist? Who knew? The pontificating captain gets most of the speaking time in this issue. “…survival will mean shedding some of his humanity in exchange for biotech and machine.” It will? That sounds pretty cool, what issue will that be in?
Based on the premise and the artwork, Titanium Rain would seem to have potential, but the pacing is bad and the captions and dialogue vacillate between pretentious and corny. I’d rate Titanium Rain #1 a 6, at best. It’s possible that the whole poker thing would read better and not seem so interminable in a collected trade paperback, but to make it the focal point of a single comic, and your premiere issue no less, was a horrible decision and a big let down. Tighten up those scripts, Mr. Finney!