We all grew up fed a stream of American films, TV series, and of course comics. Whether it was Marvel or DC, what we read was always based on American culture, locations, and language.
So, when an Australian comic came along, it was always great to read about us, our culture, and language. During the 80's, we saw the rise of some great Australian superhero comics such as Dark Nebula and The Southern Squadron. Now, those days have returned with Torn from Reverie Comics.
What is Torn?
Torn comes from the mind of Gary Dellar and has been brought to life by George Hall (writer) and Peter J. Lawson (artist). This opened up the door to not just Torn, but a whole new world.
Torn also introduces us to a new vocabulary including Hyperheroes, Hypervillains, Genetic Drifters (mutants), Designer Drifters, and the Corporation. With characters called Red Gum (the Australian Superman), Billabong, The Devil Twins (were-devils) and Mr Toad (a human cane toad), this comic is distinctly Australian.
Torn #1 begins with a real-world headline: a UFO sighting in Westall Victoria back in 1966. That’s the springboard for the whole story behind Torn.
We are introduced to Daryl Torn, an alien raised on Earth who can absorb the powers of genetic drifters he touches. He, however, has no desire to be a hero himself and would prefer to just drink tinnies and watch the footy.
Of course in the first issue, we find out a bit about Torn’s backstory. He’s brought to Earth in 1966 as a baby and handed to the Corporation for experimentation. Torn was put at an orphanage to see the effects that genetic drifters would have on him.
The story is prefaced by the question 'do you think all alien babies grow up to be boy scouts and wear capes?', and that is what we get with Torn.
Torn: A Deep Dive
Torn does not see himself as a hero. In fact, he feels that hyperheroes are part of the problem and even feels that he may do something about them himself one day.
The premiere issue sees Torn in a spot of trouble with the League of the Persecuted. They are a group of hypervillains that entangles him after he inadvertently gets in the middle of their plans.
Looking to relax and watch the footy with his new friend Red Gum, discussion soon turns to their respective outlooks on Hyperheroes. These include why Torn cannot absorb Red Gums powers (you can find the reason in Toby and the Magic Pencil #1).
The language and settings of Torn are very much Australian. Many of the characters grew up through the ‘60s and ‘70s, like the writer I would suggest, so some of the references may not be picked up on by younger readers.
As an example, there is a reference in the story to an Australian show set in an apartment block. Torn lives in a unit at number 97, an obvious reference to 'Number 96' an Australian soap from the 70's.
One small issue I did have, and it really stood out when I read the first issue every time, was the use of the word 'crisps' by two characters instead of 'chips', with chips considered to be the Australian vernacular.
Peter J. Lawson noted that it may have been written (and drawn by him) in the hope that the book would pick up readers in the US market. There is a lot of other language and references in Torn that would not be understood by US readers, like the term 'scrag' and aforementioned television reference.
If that was the reason, it may as well have been left as ‘chips’ for us Aussie readers. Overall, the writing is excellent with great use of narration leading the story throughout the book. It is a very easy book to just pick up, read and enjoy.
Why I Love Torn
The first thing that catches your eye is the killer cover by Australian comic legend Gary Chaloner (The Jackaroo, Flash Domingo, Cyclone Comics) depicting Torn exploding from the page in all his glory.
Of course, you can't tell a book by its cover, but in this case the interior artwork is just as striking. Inside we are introduced to the art of Peter J. Lawson, drawing his first full sequential art comic.
In fact, Peter also inked and coloured his own work for this issue and has done a commendable job on the 24 pages making up the book. Peter's artwork is solid and professional, which is what you want from any comic of this type at the end of day.
If this is what he is putting out now he will only get better as he develops the characters further. The book itself looks fantastic and presents well with full-colour covers and pages on high-quality paper that only helps to showcase Peter's artwork. In fact, I have to say that all of Reverie's titles are some of the most professional looking Australian books coming out at the moment.
Would I Recommend Torn?
Would I recommend Torn, yes most definitely! It has everything I look for in any comic I read, a great story, great art, great production and kickass characters. I cannot wait to see where Gary Dellar takes Torn.
He is creating a universe that has already crossed over into other Reverie books like Toby and the Magic Pencil. There are also others in the pipeline, so there is a lot of potential there to build on.
It has been a long time since there has been an ongoing Australian superhero comic like Torn, and it deserves to find an audience. I can’t wait to move onto issue two to see where Torn takes us.
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