Review: “Torch – Reclaim the Skies”

On Tuesday, independent comic book creator AJ Rojek launched a crowdfunding campaign for the first issue of Torch: Reclaim the Skies, an all-new sci-fi adventure series.*

Written by Rojek and featuring illustrations by Tom Hoskisson and colors by Daniela Barisone, Torch is set in a futuristic world and features the titular heroine Torch, a onetime child-prodigy war pilot who was given the boot under mysterious circumstances. Since being kicked out of the military, Torch has moved in with a teenage gearhead named Spark, who seems to act as a brother of sorts.

Torch is having trouble adjusting to a normal life without the adrenaline rushes that come from being a fighter pilot. On a trip downtown, her pent-up frustration explodes in the form of bar fights, car chases, etc., and she drags Spark into trouble right alongside her, much to Spark’s annoyance.

There are several flashbacks interspersed into the story which show Torch as child prodigy serving as an interstellar fighter pilot. Whether as a child or a young adult, Torch herself is a brash, overconfident, and not particularly likable heroine for most of the book. By the end, Torch does show more character depth as she emotionally confronts the reality of her situation. To me, Spark was the more complex and interesting character, but the relationship between both him and Torch is relatable and engaging.

Hoskisson’s and Barisone’s artwork is a good match for the story. It’s varied and fast-paced, and his characters’ faces are drawn with a lot of expressiveness. The alien creatures and the world around them are interestingly designed, and I personally enjoyed the 1950s-inspired vehicles. There are a few panels with some wasted space, but that’s a small quibble.

With only 24 pages to work with, the first issue of Torch: Reclaim the Skies creates an interesting, colorful world and sets the stage for what could be a solid series. As a standalone issue, I personally found that it took a little bit too long to connect with the title character, but the artwork held it together and the cliffhanger ending added a decent amount of intrigue, sparking my interest in seeing what happens in issue two. Hopefully the characters’ history and relationships will be fleshed out as the series progresses.

As a crowdfunded comic, it’s also nice to see that the book is fully complete before the Kickstarter campaign launches. If you’re interested in supporting the Torch: Reclaim the Skies campaign, you can check out the Kickstarter page here.

*Disclosure: A copy of Torch: Reclaim the Skies was provided to The Splintering for the purpose of this review.

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