Torchwood Rift War – time travel gets messy.

Published On February 24, 2010 | By Richard Bruton | Reviews

Torchwood: Rift War

written by Paul Grist, Simon Furman, Ian Edginton, Brian Williamson. Art by Paul Grist, D’Israeli, SL Gallant, Brian Williamson.

Titan Books

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Torchwood: Rift War collects together the 10 part Rift War storyline that ran in the Torchwood magazine and throws in “Jetsam”, an 11 page story written and illustrated by Brian Williamson that’s a good little story, (actually it’s probably more enjoyable than the multipart Rift War) with nicely drawn photo-realistic art. But why just stick it at the end of a 10 part story? I have no idea.

Anyway; in Rift War the Torchwood team find that the space-time rift they’re sat on top of in downtown Cardiff has opened to release mysterious alien types and it’s up to the team to try to cope with the dangerous Harrowkind, dinosaurs, armies out of time and giant babies whilst figuring out who’s on who’s side, work out just what the Rift War is and how they can possibly stop it.

I picked it up out of curiosity more than anything else. We like Torchwood in our house and enjoy the adventures of Captain Jack and the team. And I was intrigued to see how some really good comic people would handle the comic adaptation. After all, I’ve had nothing but praise for Paul Grist (Kane in particular is a spectacular triumph) or the Edginton/D’Israeli team (see these reviews for Scarlet Traces and Leviathan and Stickleback.)

So it’s real disappointment that the best I can really say about Torchwood Rift War is that it’s perhaps about as good as an episodic collection of comics written by three different writers trying to stick to a convoluted and flimsy story idea can be. It’s incredibly patchy and bitty, each individual story within the bigger storyline is no more than competent stuff. And when they’re read as one story they manage to become much less than their individual parts. Because then the different writing styles, combined with the ridiculous amount of exposition, just failed to gel in any way and what we’re left with is a bit of a mess. With such talented writers involved I really hoped for more, but perhaps working within the confines of the Torchwood world just put too many constraints upon the writing process?

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(Paul Grist’s take on Captain Jack and the Torchwood gang: from Torchwood: Rift War.)

The artwork is a damn sight better than the writing. And with artists as talented as Grist and D’Israeli that’s no surpise. But the lesser known artists; SL Gallant and Brian Williamson acquit themselves just as well. However, just as the story suffers from the episodic nature of the book, so does the artistic flow of the book. There are just too many artistic shifts throughout the thing and it just adds to the fragmented nature of the whole thing.


(D’Israeli’s great visuals – perfect for a little multi-dimensional Torchwood exploration. From Torchwood: Rift War.)

So no, I didn’t like it all that much. I get the impression that the various creators involved would be much better suited just being allowed to tell their own, self-contained 2 or 3 parters and the result would have been far better than this collaborative effort that just didn’t work for me.

I’ll stick to the TV series for my Torchwood and I’ll be glad to go back to seeing talented folks like Grist, Edginton and D’Israeli doing what they do best – their own material in their own great comics.

Richard Bruton.

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About The Author

Richard Bruton

– Started in comics retail aged 16 at Nostalgia & Comics, Birmingham. Now located in Yorkshire, he’s written for the Forbidden Planet International Blog since 2007. Specialising in UK Comics and All-Ages comics, Richard’s day job in a primary school allowed him to build the best children’s graphic novel library in the country.

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