Review: Halcyon & Tenderfoot Issue 2
By Daniel Clifford, Lee Robinson and Nadine Ashworth
After the light and bright issue 1 ended with a huge shocker, this episode rather surprises by refusing to go down the route I expected. There’s no miraculous recovery here, no immediate return of the dead hero. No, this is all about the devastation, guilt, accusations, and recriminations the resultant void creates in Brink City.
But in doing so it proves to be at least half of what Daniel Clifford promised when he described his comic as “Planetary meets Pixar“. He’s certainly cracked the Pixar part of it with this issue – they’re never afraid to shy away from darkness, almost revelling in it at times, and children are far more capable of dealing with all sorts of misery and despair than many give them credit for.
And if you’re after an idea of the scale of the despair – that very, very attractive cover sets the tone so well. It does, however, look absolutely lovely as well, and you can certainly see the input of colourist and art assistant Nadine Ashworth on that cover, and on the black and white pages inside this issue. I don’t know if it is Ashworth’s input, or simply Robinson tightening up, but whatever it is, the art inside has none of the minor faults I threw at issue 1. There’s no sense of rushed work creeeping in towards the end of the issue, no sloppy lines. This is all top notch stuff, very cartoon animation style, very very very Pixar. But that works here.
(Lovely pulling of heart-strings in these early scenes. Halcyon And Tenderfoot Issue 2 by Clifford, Robinson, and Ashworth)
And from the off Clifford writes the misery onto the page with big, thick, broad brushstrokes.
Issue 1 saw Halcyon introduce his son as his new sidekick: Tenderfoot, immediately before The Halogen Man took his revenge upon Halcyon by attempting to kill Tenderfoot. But Halcyon took the bullet meant for his son, and that’s where we join the story, in the days after Halcyon’s death, with Tenderfoot struggling to cope with the feelings he has about his dad. The grief is completely normal, but Tenderfoot has the terrible additional burden of knowing his father threw himself into the path of a bullet meant for him.
And from the very start it’s not just Tenderfoot asking whether it’s his fault, it’s seemingly everyone, good, bad, young, old. They’re all asking, all wondering….
(Hated and accused by all those surrounding him. Halcyon And Tenderfoot Issue 2 by Clifford, Robinson, and Ashworth)
Like I said, this is dark stuff. And Clifford doesn’t shy away from it here. Of course, like any good all ages book, there’s light to go with the shade. In this case, it’s the villain’s tale, as we follow the flight of The Halogen Man, now facing up to the terrifying possibility that every hero in existence is on his trail. Just as Clifford handles the darkness so well, the comedy in a villain’s paranoia is a welcome punctuation, and just as well done.
Yeah, there are a couple of little slip-ups of course. The Halogen Man taking refuge in a toilet onboard an impossibly large coach leaving Brink City, and a toilet door that magically sprouts locker style vents where none were there before, just to allow Clifford and Robinson to let the villain peer out. Little things like that – do they matter? No, not really. But do they detract from the overall feel of the book once they’re noticed – yep, just a little.
But all in all, this is proving to be rather enjoyable stuff, and very well done. It surprised me that they went this way, I’m intrigued to know how the children at school might enjoy it, but I have an idea that it will go down very well indeed.