Review - King Tiger #1 (@DarkHorseComics)

"Hope is humanity's great weakness."

When humanity faces off against an opponent that exceeds its abilities, humanity needs a champion who can match those abilities. In many stories, that champion was a fighter who could tap into a reserve of powers that gave them an advantage of other humans. In King Tiger #1 from Dark Horse Comics, that champion is King Tiger. The issue is written by Randy Stradley, illustrated by Douglas Wheatley, colored by Rain Beredo and lettered by Michael Heisler.

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!

Stradley wastes no time in making things weird in King Tiger #1; weird in a strangely exciting way. The premise behind the issue is rooted in some of the more storied mystic arts as a means of compelling the characters to act, with Stradley blending in some more modern approaches (read guns) for good measure. A good chunk of the issue is devoted to introducing the reader to Tiger, Milo and Ricky, the three of whom will serve as the core protagonists of the book. Stradley gives each character plenty of room as characters, offering up dialogue that reflects plenty of friendly banter and sharp quips as appropriate. The plot falls in line with the overall tone of the series as well, positioning Tiger to square off against an opponent who's possibly even more well-versed in the mystic arts.

The linework in King Tiger #1 is pretty close to exquisite. Wheatley does a fantastic job of rendering characters with concise lines that serves another purpose in providing them with a photorealistic quality. And considering King Tiger #1 seemingly trades in magic and martial arts, the artistic finish gives it a bit more kinetic heft and makes it a bit more realistic feeling. Wheatley also blends together a mix of characters that range from human to monster, mixing the two together in a way that the reader believes they're all part of the same world. Beredo lends muted color tones to the book that underscore the predominant desert environment, save for the orange pop of Tiger's gi and the bright pink of Rikko's jeep.

King Tiger #1 is a great first issue that starts off bizarre and only seems to get more so from there. King Tiger is an accomplished fighter who still faces off against opponents that require him to get a little help from his friends. Stradley's script moves pretty cleanly from start to finish, effectively setting up the duration of the series in a straightforward way. Wheatley's illustrations are gorgeous and add an element of sophistication to the proceedings. King Tiger #1 is a daring first issue that promises a lot of intrigue and excitement.

King Tiger #1 is in stores August 20.