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TRON Comic Issue 3 Review (CONTAINS SPOILERS)

By TronFAQ on Thursday, January 18, 2007 at 1:20 AM
While I have tried to keep them to a minimum, this article contains spoilers about the third issue of the TRON: The Ghost In the Machine comic. So if you haven't read the comic yet, you may want to stop reading this!

Originally scheduled to be out in December, Issue #3 of TRON: The Ghost In the Machine has arrived. Fortunately, the release dates more-or-less seem to be back on track. Let's hope we never see another huge delay between issues, like we did for #1 (April) and #2 (November).

The latest word (from Landry Walker, co-writer of the comic) tentatively puts the Issue #4 release date at April.

As with the previous two issues, the quality of the materials and print are top-notch. I'd even go so far to say that they have actually improved slightly with this issue. In fact, the owner of the comic store commented on the quality of the comic when I purchased it. He was rather impressed. I responded by saying: "I don't know how they make any money on this. They must not make much." SLG and its owner Dan Vado really seem to be going the extra mile. I hope this continues for the run of the comic.

And as before, the inside-front cover begins the issue with a recap of the previous one: to help bring new readers up to speed, and get them interested in prior issues.

This issue introduces a new art team, consisting of penciller and inker Michael Shoyket, and coloring team Guru-eFX (aka Jochen Weltjens et al). There is a significant difference in style between Louie De Martinis' art in the previous issues and the art in this issue, as could be expected. And I find myself missing De Martinis' art already. But more on this later.

The dark trend in the storytelling continues in this latest installment, and nothing could make me happier. But if I thought the opening panel in the last issue might shock some readers, well . . . that was nothing. There's a full-page panel in this issue, that actually borders on the gruesome. Can you believe that? A TRON story aiming squarely at older readers?

Who would have thought it? How do they get Disney to sign off on these things? What's their secret? ;)

Last chance! Spoilers start here!

The issue begins with what would appear to be a flashback. Jet is talking to his father Alan Bradley, as he prepares to be digitized and enter the electronic world of the computer. When Alan activates the digitizing laser, the reader is quickly led to suspect that Jet is actually still hallucinating — still in the same state as we last saw him, in Issue #2. But is he? That's the big question. The writers (Landry Walker and Eric Jones) sure like to keep us guessing.

If there's one constant in his perception of the world around him, it's that a voice is speaking to Jet. Warning him that he's in danger. That voice ends up being personified by an anthropomorphic, talking rabbit. Just who or what this entity is, is somewhat unclear. Is it just part of the hallucination, or something more?

I must admit, that when I first read about there being a "talking rabbit" in this issue, my expectations were not the greatest. But unlike a comment by Jet later in the comic, I was thankful to find this element of the story wasn't too clichéd. In fact: this character challenges Jet's beliefs and perceptions at every turn, in a satisfying way.

Of course, after seeing the conclusion of the last issue and the previews of this one, the first thing on the minds of current and potential readers is likely to be "this looks like it's going to rip-off The Matrix". Well, after you read this issue, I doubt you will be saying that. Any connection between that film and the story in this issue, is tenuous at best. And The Matrix isn't exclusive, nor the first, in making reference to Lewis Carroll's Alice In Wonderland.

After conversing with this character for a time in a strange landscape, Jet suddenly finds himself back in a setting he recognizes as the electronic world. Several programs, including Mercury, are concerned for his well-being and are tending to him. When Jet looks at them, their appearance has now changed. Rather than having an updated TRON 2.0-style look, they appear as they would have if they appeared in the era of the original TRON film. Mercury tells Jet that his optical subroutines have been upgraded.

Two things immediately came to mind for me, at this point. The first, is that the nature of a User's existence in this story, is demonstrated to be that of a program. A User-Program, to be specific. If there were any doubts about that before, which were left by the film, they've been eliminated now. Users become programs upon entering the system. Unique ones, perhaps. Very special, sophisticated ones. But still programs. And not something perhaps altogether different. (Of course, this was also made clear in the TRON 2.0 game. But not everyone reading the comic will be aware of that story.) This all makes one wonder if the process cuts both ways. Which was, in fact, alluded to back in Issue #1.

The second thing that comes to mind, is that while the altered appearance of the programs was a pleasant surprise: the explanation given, doesn't really make sense to me. How could a changed subroutine in Jet's User-Program, alter his perception in this way? If — in fact — what he is seeing at this point, is what is actually happening to him? The rest of the environment apparently hasn't changed. Only the characters. This story point just seems like a gratuitous excuse to draw the characters in the older style from the film. Not that it isn't welcome. But it is rather odd.

After trying to collect himself, Jet once more readies to lead an assault against the MCP and the red faction of programs. Mercury tells him she believes that without his assistance, they will fail to defeat the MCP this time.



Just when Jet is starting to feel grounded and safe again, the rabbit returns to interrupt him. Once more he is yanked into what we can only suspect is a hallucination. Jet confronts his adversary again. It's my personal belief, that the rabbit is somehow a manifestation of the MCP in some form, attacking Jet's mind. This is fueled, in part, by what I see as visual cues in the artwork. Whether I'm correct, remains to be seen. I look forward to finding out.

The issue ends with Jet escaping from the presence of his hallucinatory pest, and leading the assault on the MCP. But can he handle it, in his current state of mind?



Spoilers end here!

As always, the story delivers in this issue. However, I feel the art is again a kind of mixed bag. While Mike Shoyket is clearly a talented artist and I enjoyed the detail in his artwork (which is something that was lacking in the last issue), I'm not fond of the way he is drawing most of the characters. Alan Bradley looked about spot-on, but Jet and Mercury did not. At least, to me, anyway. You, as the reader, may have a different take. I just felt that Jet did not look like the Jet that I knew, from TRON 2.0 and from the previous issues. In fact, he looks more like Flynn now.

On the other hand, the coloring in this issue is nothing short of astonishing. While the style is a little different than before, there is no questioning that the colors leap off the page. This type of strong, vibrant coloring is exactly what any TRON fan would want — no, expect — to see. Kudos the the Guru-eFX team for nailing the TRON look so expertly.

To my pleasant surprise, the lettering in this issue was — for the most part — larger than the previous issue. One of my gripes about Issue #2 was that the lettering was rather small, making it a bit hard to read. Not this time. A big thank you goes out to letterer Eleanor Lawson, who also worked on Issue #2. The change is much appreciated. And the different coloring on the word balloons in this issue, is also a nice touch.

If there's one thing that really bugs me about this issue, it's that . . . ah, forget it. I give up. It didn't happen last issue, and I didn't expect anything to change for this issue, either. It's a discontinued product anyway, right? That has virtually nothing to do with the comic. Yeah, that's it. Cross-promotion was a silly idea. :p

An interesting side-note: this issue is introducing the idea of a future letter column, where fans can write in and perhaps have their letters published in the comic. I'd heard this mentioned a while back, around the time Issue #2 came out, but wanted to see if it panned out before saying anything. Looks like it is going ahead.

Overall, I feel this issue is even more entertaining than the last one. Perhaps in time I will become used to the way the characters are drawn. But there is no denying that the panels were detailed and the color palette extremely rich. Not to mention, the panel layout in this issue was very straightforward and easy to follow. Unlike last time, which was a bit of a mess in that regard. I recommend this issue highly.

If you'd like to know more about the previous two issues of TRON: The Ghost In the Machine, check out my reviews of Issue #1 and Issue #2.

Don't forget that you can purchase TRON #3 directly from the SLG store, if you don't have a local comic shop in your area that carries the title. You can also buy TRON #1 from Amazon.com, or TRON #1 and TRON #2 from the SLG store.
 

TRON Comic Sales Are Strong For An Independent Title

By TronFAQ on Monday, January 15, 2007 at 12:59 PM
According to a recent entry on the SLG Blog, TRON: The Ghost In the Machine Issue #1 placed quite high on the "top 300 for 2006" list at Cold Cut Distribution, one of the few independent distributors in a market dominated by Diamond Comic Distributors.

TRON Issue #1 came in at 94, edging out some titles like Dragonball Z trade paperbacks.

I realize that Cold Cut's numbers only represent a fraction of the total market. But it's nice to see that at a smaller distributor, TRON: The Ghost In the Machine is one of their best-selling titles.
 

Current Poll Results

By TronFAQ at 12:37 PM
Here are the latest results for this site's polls.


As before, the vast majority of fans want to see a sequel with Steven Lisberger at the helm, rather than a remake. The ratio of fans wanting a sequel to a remake is virtually identical to the last time I checked the results.


The majority of TRON fans are interested in the comic. However, I'm a bit surprised to see now that about ten percent of the fans are apparently not interested — more than I would have expected.


Since last time, the number of votes indicating fans thought the first issue of the TRON comic was "great", has pulled away dramatically from those who thought it was "okay". And there are still no votes from anyone who "didn't like it". This is quite an impressive showing!


If you'd like to vote in the polls yourself: they will remain open for an indefinite period of time. You can find them on the right side of the page, in the grey sidebar area, toward the bottom.
 

TRON Comic Issue 3 Release Date

By TronFAQ on Tuesday, January 02, 2007 at 7:03 PM
According to (the newly made-over) SLG Publishing site's Production Schedule page, TRON: The Ghost In the Machine Issue #3 will be released on Wednesday, January 17th!

Fortunately, the delay turned out to be a short one. :)

Don't forget to pick up issue #1 from Amazon.com or both TRON #1 and TRON #2 from SLG's store, if you don't have them already. Help ensure that new TRON comic lines, and TRON products in general, continue to be made.