Tracker Volume 1 Review

These days, the supernatural is very popular. Be it True Blood or Twilight, vampires and werewolves are all the rage. What is rare though is when they don’t turn out to be the lusty subject of some misunderstood young woman affections. Top Cow’s series Tracker actually takes werewolf lore and puts a rather interesting spin on it. The recently released trade paperback collects the first five issues of this series.

Alex O’Roark is a federal agent that’s hot on the trail for a mysterious serial-killer named Herod. Following a near fatal encounter with the killer, O’Roark finds himself changed. After waking from a coma, Alex has heightened senses, increased strength and a very irritable disposition. While coping with the negative side effects, he embraces his new skills in order to track down Herod and bring him to justice for all the innocent people he murdered.

Overall, this comic is all about juxtaposition. Wild animal nature in a job that requires cold disconnection from emotions, old superstitious folklore mixed with urban crime drama, and unfortunately, original ideas with terrible clichés. For every new and interesting thing Tracker does, it does at least one thing wrong. Be it the simple “What do you know about -insert mystical creature here-?”, “Well I know they don’t exist” dialog that seems to be a requirement for every supernatural story, or even the worn out plot point of a woman who refuses to marry the cop because the job is too dangerous, this book is full of tropes. Does that make it a bad comic? No, but it really doesn’t help with making a good comic.

Jonathan Lincoln, the writer of Tracker, doesn’t do himself any favors when it comes to the story. Along with the clichés, he also fails to write even a single likable character in the entire book. We don’t meet Alex until after his changes start, which unfortunately means you don’t get to meet the charismatic man that he apparently was before the attack. We only get to see him be moody and almost committing domestic violence. His supporting characters are really no better. Even within the confines of the story, people don’t like or trust each other. A single likable character would have done wonders for this book.

Despite all the things the story does wrong, it was at least entertaining enough to keep me turning the pages. As things progress, we find that there are mysterious people at work that may or may not be supporting Herod. Are these people working for or against Alex? Do they have the best interest of the general population at heart? Unfortunately, the book ends before we can get answers about this vastly more interesting subplot. Hopefully 2011 will bring us more issues and answers.

The art is actually done by three separate artist over the course of the collection. While I greatly enjoyed the art of Francis Tsai (issues 1-3) and especially Abhishek Malsuni (issue 5), I found Derec Donavan’s (issue 4) art wanting. While not bad, it really didn’t have the edgy feel that the other two artists presented and actually snapped me out of reading once I hit the fourth issue of the collection. Donavan’s art seems very soft and clean, where as Tsai and Malsuni’s work tends to be sharper and darker which I felt was more appropriate for the subject matter. With the exception of this one complaint, I actually enjoyed the artwork a lot. Tsai and Malsuni do a good job of getting dirty when gore is involved, which is a trait needed when telling this sort of story.

Overall, Tracker is a kind of mediocre title. While it does some interesting things, none of it is original enough to overlook the glaring flaws such as overused story elements and unlikable characters. The art, while very good, isn’t enough to make up for the problems in the story. If someone is looking for a werewolf comic that doesn’t involve sparkling vampires, this would be a decent enough choice. On the other hand, if you’re not a fan of lycanthropic tales, this story won’t be the one that wins you over.

[xrr rating=3/5]

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