Halcyon & Tenderfoot #1

The first of a four-issue miniseries written by Daniel Clifford and drawn by Lee Robinson, Halycon and Tenderfoot has the feel of early issues of Invincible, with an irresistably simple premise bolstered by fresh, likeable characters. The series follows a superhero called Halcyon as he introduces the world to his new sidekick, the super-speedy Tenderfoot – at the same time hiding the fact that Tenderfoot is actually his son. After announcing themselves to the general public, they then go home and prepare themselves for the inevitable supervillain backlash. And that comes quickly, in the form of a bearded (therefore villainous) man called Davis who has a metal hand. Which, y’know, is also a sign of impending treachery.

H&T is an all-ages comic, but only in the sense that there’s no swearing or gritty violence to be found. This works in favour of the comic, as it raises the stakes for everything else. There’s no mass-murder or brutal fighting going on here, which means when something does go wrong, it feels much more important and dangerous for the two heroes. While other comics go all-out to portray massive crime, Clifford carefully makes sure that the story stays relatively grounded. To do so, he has to work hard on establishing the bond between the two heroes, and make them feel like an actual father and son. There’s quite a bit of DNA taken from The Incredibles in the book as a result, as we’re watching a father/son duo attempt to work together when they’re both approaching the idea of crimefighting from completely different places. But it works, because the approach feels fresh and (most importantly) fun.

While the book does use a lot of well-worn ideas as part of the story, it’s the way that the creative team approach them which makes the book so entertaining. While we’ve seen an over-enthusiastic sidekick race straight into trouble before, Clifford twists the resulting hostage situation into an unexpected final page, and leaves the characters in a genuinely worrying place. The villain, as well, seems obvious at first, but the scene where he leaves jail, mother in tow, is a weird quirk which also works well to establish just how mean-spirited he is. This is all brought vividly to life by Robinson’s bright, bouncy artwork, which excels in the action sequences. Robinson creates a series of entertaining characters for the story, with expressive, manic faces and smart use of off-kilter perspective which gives readers the chance to see things through the eyes of Thunderfoot. The creative team have a spark which keeps the story firing forward, with character moments and grounded action scenes combining with melodramatic villainy and noble heroism to create a comic which feels vibrant and new, even while telling one of the oldest stories there is.

You can read the issue as a digital download online at http://www.artheroes.com, and subscribe to the rest of the series if it suits your desire. There’s also an issue #0 available, which I’d highly recommend, too. Halcyon and Tenderfoot is a fun, accessible story, and well worth picking up.

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