One of my tell tale signs about a good story is if it lacks a hero. I don’t mean it doesn’t have a hero, but that the hero isn’t out in front from page one. Cue Voltron #2, the latest issue in Dynamite Entertainment’s kick ass adaptation of the legendary character. At the end of this issue, there is still no Voltron, no separate tiger robots and no power sword. So how can issue #2 still be a great read? How can I still be all in for Voltron when I haven’t even seen him? The answer lies in the writing prowess of Brandon Thomas.
Thomas understands how to craft a story. Instead of writing a shock and awe tale, Thomas is building something slowly. There’s mystery here, tiny revelations that keep the momentum going without giving everything up. Set in two different eras, Voltron uses the past to tell the story of Zarkon and spends the present on the search for our robotic hero. In 2014, Zarkon is a professor challenged by the Government to come up with technology against an alien invasion. In 2024, the Voltron team has escaped the dark forces of Zarkon and started their search to bring Voltron back in Earth’s time of need.
How does Zarkon go from good to bad? Thomas doesn’t let that cat out of the bag; instead he starts sowing seeds of what might lead to the collapse of Zarkon’s sanity. Where is Voltron hiding? Again, we don’t get that spoon fed to us – instead a new piece of the puzzle is added. Tying all these elements together is Thomas’s superior writing skills. Even with a story that’s mostly pieces, there is a feeling that it all has a direction. Thomas has an end game; you know it and you want to be a part of it. He also has a real knowledge of the history of Voltron and he’s able to expand the legacy while still remaining respectful of the source material. The final pages of Voltron #2 contain a reveal that could change the way we see the character forever. How cool is that?
The closest thing I can compare to Thomas’s work on Voltron is Scott Snyder’s Batman. Both men take great pains to push the legend beyond what we know but without sacrificing the history. Thomas takes gaps in the legend, tiny holes that were never filled in and starts adding his ideas to them. What you get is less a reboot and more a fuller version of the original story. There’s also action; part of what makes Thomas so good is he knows when it’s time to let loose. The battle of Voltron squad to get past Zarkon’s forces comes right when it’s called for, balancing out an issue that could have become exposition heavy. I also love how Thomas is making Zarkon a sympathetic character, which always makes the villain more interesting.
Ariel Padilla’s art is the only shaky thing with Voltron. It’s not that the work is bad, but it is very hit or miss. Padilla excels at the technological work. The spaceships, the laser battles, the spacesuits and weaponry. Where he falls short are the human figures, which always feel rushed or half finished. Every panel featuring a facial expression is a little too posed for me, particularly with Zarkon who looks mid-thirties one panel and then sixty the next. I like Padilla’s line work and his capability with action; I just wish he’d concentrate more on the faces. It’s not a deal breaker with Voltron but it does take away from what is otherwise a flawless return.
CRAVE ONLINE RATING 8/10 (5, Story. 3, Art)