Blacklight: Tango Down Comic Review

Coming out later this year is Blacklight: Tango Down, a game from Zombie Studios and Ignition Entertainment that looks pretty awesome. This one-shot from new publisher Storm Lion follows the same story and sets things up for the game rather nicely. It certainly makes me want  to delve into the world via my Xbox. It’s the kind of near future world in which players of Tom Clancy’s games will be familiar, but apart from some interesting soldiers and hi-tech gear this concept throws something else into the mix – zombies. Now don’t roll your eyes just yet. Zombies may be overused these days, sure, but like vampires, they are  a versatile bunch.

This story, written by Jared Gerritzen, Ian Stephens and Cullen Gallagher, begins with a rookie soldier fighting to stay alive on a hospital bed with one word on his lips: Klein. Through an intense flashback we learn that the solder and his Blacklight team were sent to Russia to find fellow army man, Colonel Klein. It’s not long before they learn the hard way that Klein has gone power mad in this city in revolt, and the squad learn that Balik’s citizens have been subject to a test virus by a group called The Order, who apparently unknowingly turned them into zombies, and now everyone’s in trouble.

Tango Down is a concise and well told story, filled with drama and action. I never have too much faith in video game adaptations, but this exceeded my expectations. Things move briskly, with plenty of tense moments. The art from Zid, Puppeteer and Mahendra is superb in a slightly sketchy yet evocative fashion. It will be familiar to those who read pretty much anything from Radical Publishing, as the Asian collective of artists that form Storm Lion have worked with Radical on some of their titles before. In fact Edmund Shern, C.E.O of Storm Lion wrote one of Radical’s best early books in Freedom Formula.

I’m a little surprised that both the makers of the game and this comic didn’t give the zombies more emphasis though. They don’t feature on the cover and don’t even make an obvious appearance in the pages behind it. The juxtaposition between futuristic soldiers and the blood thirsty undead is a great visual, let alone a storytellers’ delight.

This is a bittersweet review though, as it’s recently been revealed that Storm Lion are facing difficulty due to an investor pulling out. This must be extremely frustrating for Shern and his talented team, especially as they have a wealth of beautiful looking tales ready to unleash upon the curious public. Seeing the Free Comic Book Day issue, their Turbulence art book and this issue, I’d be filled with confidence if I was the man signing the cheques. I hope they manage to make it to Comic Con at least and get the backing they deserve. If I had the money, I’d sign them up in a heartbeat.

You can follow the happenings of Storm Lion at their Facebook page.

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