Rise of the Tyrant (#1 – 4) – Massimo Rosi

3 out of 5

A wayward focus and some hard-to-follow action are buoyed, issue by issue, by solid, interesting ideas.  …Which is really an accomplishment, because Rise of the Tyrant has several roadblocks to overcome.

Amigo Comics, unfortunately, does not have a good editing track record when it’s not El Torres doing the edits.  He assists on issue one (supposedly…), but is coedited by Andrea Lorenzo Molinari, who completely edits issue two, and those books are each very poorly handled.  Massive amounts of typos, poor English; I’m used to this as an Amigo reader, but it still comes across as very amateurish, and is such a shame when you can sense some cool ideas burbling ‘neath the garble.

Writer Massimo Rosi crafts a very interesting alien invasion concept – in which the alien consumes entire cities, using the congealed mass as host bodies for massive ‘golems’ – and makes an acceptable case for why a grandfather / father / son trio are the only ones with the technology available to combat them – presented as, natch, a giant mecha robot.  Unfortunately, Rosi’s subplotting is all over the place, with flashbacks and disputes with locals (who don’t like being saved from aliens, apparently) very messily mixed into matters, perhaps in part because these four issues, though pitched as a ‘volume one,’ are written much more like an ongoing series; that is: there is no resolution in the fourth issue, spoiler.

Artist Luca Panciroli creates a grounded, near-future world – one in which the tech we’re seeing is believable – and though I’m not a fan of using celebrity likenesses for characters, Panciroli manages to communicate a good range of emotions with their faces, which often isn’t the case with that technique.  The robot-versus-alien battle scenes are, alas, way too static to communicate the massive sense of motion they should, as well as being a bit too digitally touched-up to understand what exactly is happening where.  You’d think that’d be a killer, but ‘Tyrant’ ends up being more about the humans around the mecha than the battles themselves, which is where the series manages to redeem itself.

Political squabbles over the battle; the fomenting rebellion of people who mistrust the government’s handling of the situation; the general sense of hopelessness in knowing that the aliens are, essentially winning; Rosi has a lot of good ideas in here, and when El Torres fully takes over edits in issues 3 and 4, the words start to sync with those ideas, and the series becomes a compelling slice of sci-fi.

The overall plotting is still baffling, with how the book just ends, mid-thought, but I’m certainly intrigued enough to be hopeful for a volume 2.