Torn OGN Review

This 120 page, black and white OGN from Aussie publisher Gestalt (Rombies, The Deep) puts a good twist on the werewolf tale. Sure, I know you’ve probably heard that before, but I actually found myself enjoying the simplicity and barbaric, full on take on offer here. Written by newcomer Andrew Constant, and with art by Joh James (whose work you may have seen in the new series I.C.E from 12 Gauge Studios), this reminded me of the kind of films I grew up loving in the ’80s. It’s bold and unapologetic and lets us know who the baddies and goodies are straight away, urging the reader to cheer for he sympathetic hero as he serves out toothy justice.

Nicola Scott (Secret Six) does the art for prologue and even though it features a half naked man, and a bloody battle, it all looks very pleasing to the eyes. Having James provide the bulk of the book’s art is an interesting choice, as his frenetic, hard edged line work is in spectacular contrast to Scott’s delicate pencils. It makes sense though, as Torn is, as the title suggests, a rip roaring action/adventure story. James’ slightly rough, sketchy style uses the page creatively and he creates diverse layouts and dynamic action scenes rather well. He uses things like texture, silhouettes, and a flowing design that doesn’t often rely on traditional approaches to panels in sequential storytelling. It’s a dirty, harsh world in the pages of Torn, but it looks great. I wouldn’t want to live there though.

The cast of characters is streamlined, meaning Constant can focus on the also streamlined story. There’s some deft discussions on identity as the lead character, whose narration guides us, loses someone he loves, before being changed from a lycanthrope to a long haired man, and discovering the dangers of the new city he inhabits. The wolf/man meets Sarah, a young homeless girl and gets embroiled in the danger and dirt of her life before his past claws its way back to him. Even though he hardly speaks, the pair hit it off and he begins to see the power of friendship and humanity, with the memories of death and brutality that he’s witnessed not far from his thoughts. It could’ve easily been over the top and soppy, but Constant keeps the dialogue grounded and although it’s often bleak, it’s not depressing.

Given the thumbs up by scribes Greg Rucka and Gail Simone, I hope this catches people’s attention on the shelves. Sure, I’m a sucker for Australian made comics, but Torn is another good example from Gestalt, in showing that horror, action and drama can all sit together in an entertaining brew.

Check out some great preview pages from Torn here. Also out now from Gestalt is the Western OGN, The Eldritch Kid: Whisky and Hate.

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