KING TIGER #1 (of 4)
“” (22 pages)
Script by: Randy Stradley
Art by: Douglas Wheatley
Colors by: Rain Beredo
Lettering by: Michael Heisler
Cover by: Douglas Wheatley w/ Rain Beredo
Publishers: Mike Richardson, Dark Horse Comics
Thank goodness for Chef Boyardee. jk…Rowling! What I meant to say was that I’m grateful that the editor’s notes from the days of old are back in modern-day comics 😉 I start my pre-view this way because there is a reference to a previous story told in BLACKOUT #4, the title character’s last appearance. He was saved by Milo, who seems to be his sidekick.
Let’s retrace the steps. A young woman is abducted in the Casino Row district of Hoyo Grandé, Nevada. What? No Las Vegas?? She is to be sold along with sixteen others for human trafficking. Not all the captives are females. The three thugs who took her are also placed in a container, not having foreseen this predicament.
Milo is a guest at Rikki’s huge hacienda. Rikki is Tiger’s GF. She’s being a most gracious hostess. Rikki acknowledges Milo’s heroics in saving Tiger from a demon. Her badge of honour has been healed by her BF. She appreciates the perks that come with having a sorcerer as dating material and informs Milo that Tiger is in the tower. Milo grabs a knife and rushes upwards, ready for a fight. Tiger assures him that the gateway to other times and places is perfectly safe.
Tiger brings Milo to his workshop. He is trying to educate the eager adventurer on two of his finest blades. The names are too long and complicated, thus Milo simplifies them. Tiger has second thoughts but Milo asserts that he is in it for the long haul. Milo prefers firearms but Tiger mentions that bullets must be used sparingly and only when necessary. Any weapon adds to Tiger’s magic. Milo wants to be the sorcerer’s apprentice but Tiger bluntly states that magic always comes with a price.
Somewhere in the Nevada desert, one of the male prisoners tries to console the recent kidnappée. He is a lawman and is confident that the authorities will search for the score of missing persons. The mysterious man in charge brings forth a menacing and scary looking enforcer and scoffs at the idea. He also whispers to the officer to be mindful of his wife and child.
Milo takes his caddy role to heart. He is ready to lug around the various armaments at Tiger’s disposal. Milo wants to know more of Tiger’s secret origin. Luckily, he is saved by Rikki’s summons to dinner. Rikki tells Milo that even she doesn’t know how Tiger acquired the art of sorcery. She does share a tale about their encounter. Four years before, Tiger was winning all the large pots at every single table in one of the cash flow joints in Hoyo Grandé (definitely not a coincidence!) He was about to be booted when Rikki stepped in and covered the ‘losses’. She saved the man from a butt-kicking but he didn’t seem to express his gratitude. Tiger cuts in and explains that he was a lost soul and wanted to exploit the American Dream. That all changed with Rikki’s influence. Milo then asks Tiger’s point of origin. Once again, an interruption. The phone call is from Murtrey, an officer with the Bureau of Land Management. He and Tiger met two years prior when there was a kappa that needed to disappear.
Tiger tells Milo to saddle up. He asks Rikki for keys to the jeep. She allows it but with Milo at the wheel. In the garage, the various vehicles are all pink!! Not manly at all. LOL Milo asks who has the big bucks. Tiger states that it’s Rikki. Milo wants to know if he’ll get remuneration for the gig. Tiger innocently states that he is unsure since he’s always been a solo act. Tiger explains the term kappa to Milo. One other question is fired from his mouth. Tiger states that he is not from Japan. They arrive at the destination specified by Murtrey. It is the bound officer!! He sees Tiger and apologizes for leading him into a trap. Milo smells gas. An archer fires an arrow at Murtrey and he begins to incinerate. The others are also lost. Milo grabs the jeep and the duo make a hasty retreat. Their passage is blocked by some sort of demon. The vehicle has stopped running. Tiger demands to know why they are not mobile. A sextet of mean-looking no-gooders stand poised for a throwdown.
Human tank? Despite using several search engines, the actual King Tiger was a tank used by Nazi Germany during WWII. Intriguing choice for naming a character.
Way of the Tao: Tiger has a rather bleak outlook on the human condition but he isn’t wrong!!
Hoyo Grandé: This is a fictional town but it literally means “big hole/hollow/pit”.
Brown or green? The two blades owned by Tiger are Tadahiro and Suketaka named after their inventors Hizen Omi Daijo Tadahiro and Ozaki Minamoto Gen Goemen Ozaki Suketaka, respectively.
Caddy laddy: Milo takes his role to heart!
Kappa conversation: This is a water imp according to Tiger. It translates as “river child”
I thought I was so smart in determining King Tiger’s actual beginnings. Little did I know that he’s been around for twenty-two years!!! From his obscure first appearance in COMICS’ GREATEST WORLD: VORTEX #3 to a recurring role in GHOST to last year’s back-up feature in BLACKOUT. Given that this is my first taste, I’m a lot more curious than Milo to find out more!! I have no idea if this character has been developed in detail.
Moving on to the creative team. Randy Stradley is a major force at Dark Horse having written a bounty of books and being one of its editors. He is the co-founder of the company along with Mike Richardson :0 That’s astounding! Thanks to acquiring the rights to produce STAR WARS comics, the publisher rose through the ranks. He lives in infamy for suggesting Chewbacca’s demise. Well, that has now been undone.
Either way, Mr. Stradley is a modern Renaissance man. I dare not speculate too much about his personal interests but he has a firm grip on the mythos behind King Tiger’s mystical world. It’s unique that Tiger can only channel his powers through physical objects, namely weapons. Tiger is extremely pacific despite his super potential. Heart and mind rule body.
Douglas Wheatley is Canadian J Stand tall, my fellow compatriot!! He has had the pleasure of working with Mr. Stradley on several titles, specifically STAR WARS: DARK TIMES. He was handpicked by Mr. Stradley himself. His draftsmanship is comprehensive. All the characters are realistic representations. As usual, the eyes have it. Everything can be told through those ocular objects. One minor critique: Tiger doesn’t look ‘Asian enough’ given his ethnic background as stated by Mr. Stradley in a previous interview. The close-up of the bullet emphasizes the opposite reason for its use. The details in the workshop are eye-catching especially the vines and hanging animal corpses from the ceiling. The villains are varied and don’t play for keeps.
Rain Beredo goes back and forth between pencilling and colouring. His technique is rich in its execution. The little things are what I notice more from the terra cotta landscape to the fiery release of the swirly demon.
Michael Heisler wears many hats!! He has written and edited several comics. The letters are large and bolded where emphasis is needed. He wisely shrinks the font when there are whispers. The stretched WHOOOMM characterizes the quick demise of all the slaves as the flames engulf them all.
Thanks to a recent interview with CBR (Comic Book Resources), Mr. Stradley has expressed his intention at slowly revealing Tiger’s origin. Woo-hoo!! I look forward to that and will read this short saga to the very end. I also want to grab the free KING TIGER/BARB WIRE ashcan.
[Note: I just found this after having written the review – http://www.writeups.org/fiche.php?id=1552 Despite this excellent profile, I will discover for myself!]
[OMG! I have to stop researching!! There are 4 live-action shorts on YouTube featuring this character! *chuckle*]
In acknowledgment of Tiger’s namesake, I give this book 6.5 claws out of 8 [81.25%] or 8 stripes out of 10.