Saturday, 17 November 2012

Review: Halcyon & Tenderfoot #1


Remember the innocent days of superheroes when the good guys were actually good instead of being good sometimes and arses to each other the rest of the time? If you fondly recall those days, then Halcyon & Tenderfoot is probably a comic you want to pick up. While it's primarily aimed at children, this small press gem is something that an adult can definitely embrace, especially one who has become jaded with the current spandex scene.

Written by Daniel Clifford, known for his work on Sugar Glider, Halcyon & Tenderfoot doesn't wait around to introduce all the main players of the story. Halcyon is the world's best superhero and an overt commentary on the state of the modern day 'gritty' superhero. He stands for justice and goodness is every respect and outright denounces other heroes whose methods straddle the line of heroism and villainy. He's also had a long career and is seen by many as washed up and irrelevant in today's society. At the beginning, Halcyon introduces the world to his new sidekick, his son Lennon, also known as Tenderfoot - the 'fastest boy on Earth'. Tenderfoot is unsurprisingly excited to get out and do some real heroics, but his father tells him to be patient and cherish the moments that he's not out trying to save the world. However, this changes when it's discovered that a prolific villain has been released from prison. Although this is a book for young people, that hasn't meant development and real human emotion has been edited out of the equation. At the end of the day this is a story about a father and his son, and when they're both out on the field there's not a single panel where Halcyon doesn't look concerned about his boy's well-being. It's a testament to Clifford's writing that something as deep as this can be read in what could have been a simple two-dimensional comic.

Not to spoil anything, but the final panel definitely comes as a shock and I'm looking forward to reading the second issue. Lee Robinson does the artwork, which is bold and clean, popping out of the page even in the absence of colour. I especially love how Robinson draws facial expressions and he also has a really good eye for perspective. However, one day it would be great to see this book in full colour.

It's clear that a lot of heart went into the creation of Halcyon & Tenderfoot and while on the surface it's a kids' book, underneath lies a commentary on modern superheroes as well as a touching relationship between father and son. My only real complaint is that the dialogue can be a little stilted on occasion, but this is a minor fault.

*****

-Scott Malthouse