Ripclaw: Pilot Season #1
Written by Jason Aaron
Art by Jorge Lucas
Colors by Studio F
Letters by Troy Peteri
Top Cow Productions
Cover price: $2.99; On-sale: 8/15/07
For those of you who don’t know Ripclaw, this is a good jumping on point. However, don’t expect to learn too much from “The Harrowing,” the Pilot Season issue of one of the most popular members of Top Cow’s original flagship series, Cyberforce. Pilot Season is the big event happening at Top Cow comics this Fall. They will be releasing Pilot Issues for six titles between August and November: Velocity, Angelus, Cyblade, Necromancer, Aphrodite IX, and of course, Ripclaw. Fans will decide which two titles will get an ongoing series for 2008 by casting their vote at the Top Cow Pilot Season MySpace page. (More information about the voting, visit the Top Cow blog.)
We only catch glimpses of the bloody action via video monitors as Ripclaw, aka Robert Bearclaw, “an Indian of some sort,” kills his way through the multi-level fortress of Japanese crime lord Yamamoto. Which is a shame because the detailed, sometimes cartoony, art of Jorge Lucas, which is very similar in style to the cover by Tony Moore, begs for some real Ripclaw action sequences. I don’t know if the carnage shown would be too graphic or if Jason Aaron is teasing you into following the series, but comics, especially with a character like Ripclaw, and especially with an artist that’s up to the challenge, requires that we see the fight scenes. “Just look at him,” says Number 9 to his similarly numbered associates as they watch Ripclaw on their surveillance cameras. But we can’t! In fact the only time we spy a hint of Ripclaw’s ability is on the second to last page where we see his hand enlarged into a giant, deadly, steel claw. Until then it could be Wolverine minus the arbitrarily designed lines drawn on his face, minus the facial hair. We do see some awesome level setups for great challenges of Ripclaw’s abilities, but all we see are piles of dead soldiers, ninjas and broken weapons.
While watching him, Number 9 comes to the conclusion that, “Something has happened to this Ripclaw. Changed him. Given him a new purpose.” This is very intuitive coming from a person who has never heard of Ripclaw up until a few pages before. Yet he is correct. By the time this video game-like Enter the Dragon episode is over, we learn that Ripcalw does have a new, insistent motivation for his endeavors. It is his new “Sixth Sense,” which he acquired during a recent sweat lodge ceremony, that drives him to be a force of vengeance for those beyond the capabilities of administering it themselves.
When Ripclaw finally reaches the level to face Number 9, we are teased by seemingly endless battle weapons hanging on the wall of the dojo. This confrontation was built up to the whole issue and all we get is a “Three hours later…” caption box, a mutilated Number 9, and a room full of blood and discarded weaponry. Show us the action! After all, this is comics and you shouldn’t let an artistic talent like Jorge Lucas go to waste. You don’t need a sweat lodge ceremony to figure that out.
This is a really fun, solid issue of Ripclaw in which the suspense was built up maybe just a little too well. The premise and new direction for Ripclaw seems like a good fit. I hope this latest incarnation makes the Pilot Season cut. But if the fans do give it the nod, then Jason Aaron should show much more of the action and delve more deeply into Ripclaw’s abilities.