First off, I should apologize. I realize that there were no reviews this past week and that’s only partially my fault. Through what was nothing short of an outlandish amount of mistakes on the part of Diamond and UPS, my store’s books were sent to the wrong location not once, but twice last week (first an unnamed store in Missouri, then an equally eponymous shop in Boston; my store, for the sake of comparison, is in southern Illinois). As a result, I didn’t get Thing One from the week’s shipment until Friday morning. As such, I had already missed my normal deadline when I was just beginning to read the week’s releases.And so the real problem lies in the fact that, by necessity, I would need to write reviews over the weekend to get them to you before this week’s books shipped. And that’s a problem because, by virtue of an unspoken rule, my weekends are typically the sole province of my fiancée (a woman who is not only remarkably tolerant of, but also encourages, my geek lifestyle, a feat that I live in constant amazement of).
So anyway, there you have it, the reasons that the reviews were curiously absent: foul-ups from the powers that be and the constant demands of an actively heterosexual lifestyle.
I hate stories about big robots.
An interesting way to start a review, don’t you think? By proclaiming your dislike for the genre? And you’d think that, based on that comment, my review of Tokyo Storm Warning was going to be exceedingly negative. If you thought that, you’d be half-right.
Ellis lays out the back story for this book quick-and-dirty style, throwing out plot details as he moves the action along. Zoe Flynn is an American pilot in Tokyo. Simple enough, except Flynn is trained to pilot an Arcangel, a form of giant battle armor that the people of Tokyo use to battle threats to their sovereignty. To how and why of the armor’s existence is almost brushed aside, explained as nothing less than pure mystery, that they simply appeared, unmanned but otherwise unharmed, in Tokyo Bay. Recovered by the military, they were eventually reverse-engineered to work for human operators and put into testing just in time to oppose what has become a regular onslaught of giant monsters, the likes of which are rarely scene outside of Saturday afternoon cable television.
Although Flynn encounters some resistance to her presence by the personnel at the Arcangel launch facility, she is fast-tracked towards a genuine field-testing when the mysteriously appearing creatures begin a new assault immediately following her arrival on-site. Fitted with a control suit, she is injected into the liquid-metal core of the Arcangel itself, which conforms to her body and transforms itself into a control terminal. Sent out to provide back-up for the team’s leader (there are three Arcangels, incidentally, one of which is down at the time of her arrival), Zoe finds herself as the lone hope for the project’s survival when Arcangel One’s docking bay malfunctions, preventing him from exiting the facility. Faced by gargantuan creatures that are simply the stuff of nightmares and B-movies, Flynn brushes aside her rookie jitters and enters the fray…To find that her weapons have no effect, other than to further irritate the already exceedingly-hostile beasts.
So that’s the sum of the opening issue of this three issue mini. It’s an interesting way to kick things off, throwing the reader into the thick of it from the get-go. And it works, mostly because our protagonist is in the same boat as we are, trying to assimilate quickly in a rapidly changing environment. Overall, it’s an entertaining read, in a popcorn fun sort of way and Raiz and Currie turn in a solid performance artistically, rendering the battlesuits with all the overblown detail of quality anime.
The problem I have though isn’t with the book itself. It’s with the book’s writer. I read Tokyo Storm Warning and I enjoy it. Then I remember that it’s a Warren Ellis book and I’m more than a little let down. I think to myself, “C’mon, this is Warren Ellis…”
This is the man who gave us Transmetropolitan, Authority and Planetary, hands-down some of the best material published in the latter days of the 20th century and onward (and hell, has Planetary even seen the shelf this century? Doesn’t feel that way.). So I sit here, I realize this and I’m forced to ask, “This is the best he could do? Bull.”
It’s unfair, I know, to judge a new book based on the author’s previous work. A critic should try to analyze any work based solely on its own merits. But it’s just really hard for me to do that with the recent work that Ellis has done, because it simply feels like he’s phoning these in for the paycheck alone, not because he has anything truly original to say.
So, let me reiterate, but in a different fashion. If this were written by anyone but Ellis (or someone else of his caliber of ability), I’d have been satisfied. If this were the work of a new creator, I might be impressed. But as it stands…well, Warren, I just expect more from you.