It’s the worst day of Crackerjack’s life, but let us not forget: It’s always darkest before it gets pitch-black. Your Major Spoilers review of Torrent #1 from Image Comics awaits!
Writer: Marc Guggenheim
Artist: Justin Greenwood
Colorist: Rico Renzi
Letterer: Keith Wood
Publisher: Image Comics
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: February 15, 2023
Previously in Torrent: Michelle Metcalf is the world’s most happy-go-lucky hero, Crackerjack, until tragedy forces her to cross the line from hero to vigilante.
Things are about to get messy.
“EVERYBODY LOVES MY BLUEBERRY MUFFINS”
It starts with our protagonist covered in blood, ruminating about how she was supposed to be at a PTA meeting. Instead, she’s breaking into an unknown structure, armed to the teeth and ready to kill anything that moves. worried that passing off store-bought blueberry muffins as her own makes her a monster. Flashback a week, so that readers can officially meet Crackerjack for the first time, as she takes down a bank robbery with her bouncing powers. During that encounter, she is joined by Slipstream, a local young hero who considers himself her sidekick. He helps her out, but is badly wounded in the effort, forcing Michelle/Crackerjack to take him to her secret lair for special fast-healing formula and some attempts to once again get him to quit stalking her. (The fact that he knows her real name is important. Write that down.) Michelle goes home to her loving husband and son, enjoying a little family time, as an ominous thought caption remarks that, if she knew it was their last dinner together, she would have put more effort into it.
A HAILSTORM OF CLICHES AND SWIPES
I was a little bugged by the opening sequence of this issue when it became clear that our hero was named Crackerjack (exactly like the bouncing character from Astro City) and has the powerset of Speedball (whose descent into grimdark madness after a tragedy is all he’s known for anymore.) The fact that both Slipstream and Crackerjack have extremely generic, mostly white costumes bugs me, but then their conversation turns into a very familiar elder-hero-bugged-by-young-hero back-and-forth. When we get to the inevitable murder because Slipstream gave up her name (I told you to write it down), Michelle kneels in the ashes of her home, snarling that her attacker “shouldn’t have signed it.” It’s a reference to Frank Miller’s Daredevil: Born Again, designed to be a cool fillip at the end of the first chapter, but… It’s too on-the-nose. The story we’re presented with is a mishmash of other comic stories, topped off with overt references to Rambo, a guest appearance by Dante from Clerks and a big, strong, dumb character actually called Bruiser. The art is somewhat better, channeling bits of Oeming’s work on Powers, some of Frank Miller’s modern angular madness, and Cory Walker’s Invincible. I like it better than the scripting, but it’s still an amalgamation of references rather than something unique.
BOTTOM LINE: DISAPPOINTING AND SKIPPABLE
The biggest problem with Torrent #1 isn’t showing its influences on its sleeve, something that many modern works do successfully and still make good comics, it’s that once you get past Miller, Oeming, Stallone, and Busiek, there’s nothing left, leaving us with 1.5 out of 5 stars overall. An influence is fine, and a reference can be entertaining as heck, but if rehashing other, better works is all a creative team brings to the table, I can’t say that table is going to get my four dollars.
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The opening sequence is interesting, but things quickly go sideways from there, with grimdark plot twists from the '90s, leaden dialogue and a final panel that was meant to be a tribute but just feels dishonest.