Tribulation Taskforce #0 review

Title: Tribulation Taskforce #0

Publisher: Star Cross Comics

Creators: Bill Raupp (Creator, Writer); Rully Akbar, Arman Abeleda, Jardel Cruz, Gilbert Monsanto, Bill Marimon, Luis Rivera (Contributing Artists); Periya Pillai (Colorist); Alex Scherkenbach (Letters).

Price: $5.00

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars


“Scripture tells of a coming period of great turmoil, referred to by many as the End of Days. The soon to come anti-christ is on a mission to bring forth the last days before the appointed time. Under a platform of world peace, he uses his position in the United Nations to assemble a team of superpowered warriors to help him achieve his true goal, the destruction of mankind. God calls a young man named Hector (aka Grok) to assemble the greatest Superhero force the world has ever known. They are The Tribulation Taskforce!”

Comments: The Christian Rapture event, and the events that follow it, is a story that many find appealing. It’s rife with potential both interpersonal as well as political and supernatural. Many novels and films have explored this, but rarely has it been viewed through the lens of a world where superhuman individuals exist. Beings whose very natures can often be at direct odds with the teachings of the scriptures. After all, if you’re a hero who gained his powers from an ancient Egyptian deity, or are some kind of supernatural spirit of vengeance returned from beyond the grave, how does that blend with what we’ve been told about life after death according to the Bible? While these more heady contemplations aren’t addressed in this debut issue, the setting is very much a post-Rapture world, and the heroes tasked with a mission sent from on High.

Lead character Hector Castillo, aka “Grok”, has been tasked by God Himself to gather together a band of heroes to rescue the legendary Apostle John who, after apparently surviving to the present day, has been held captive at the Vatican. And not only that, but they must also contend with a group of “celebrity heroes” called The Watchers, led by newly-elected unified world leader Appolyon (himself an incarnation of the Antichrist). These opposing “heroes” are in fact all corrupt, and gain their abilities from demons.

And that’s the overall concept of the book. And essentially as much information as we’re given so far.

The issue itself is made up of several short stories, often anywhere from two, to four, to at most ten pages each. The result is a project that comes off kind of…choppy. There’s not a sense of cohesion to everything. Each story continues to “world build”, but not essentially move the story forward. It spends a lot of time establishing the atmosphere of the world in bits, rather than allow this information to be revealed organically through storytelling. And while Grok himself gets a lot of spotlight time, the other heroes in the Tribulation Taskforce itself don’t shine much. Honestly, it isn’t even until the last story segment, which is a single-page story, that all the members of the team are even named. I had a certain benefit, being a member of artist Gilbert Monsanto’s ARENA group on Facebook, that I recognized some of the characters from their appearances there. That’s the only way I knew who a few of them were in the early pages of this issue. Also, the big splash page featuring a host of guest heroes was cool because it’s from the aforementioned ARENA group and the ICC Facebook group that I knew who some of those guys were.

The presence of Bill’s Apostle character throughout, often shown standing dramatically in front of the Vatican, is a little confusing. I’m not sure if he’s supposed to be John himself, or is an agent of the Vatican tasked with protecting it. He’s obviously an ally, at least in the future, because he’s pictured with the team many times. But for now, that information isn’t yet forthcoming.

Regarding the creative talent involved in the book, it’s all quite good. Despite the aforementioned choppy nature of the stories, Bill’s writing is smooth. It flows nicely and doesn’t seem awkward, stiff, or stunted. Alex Scherkenbach’s lettering is very nice, though I question some of the caption box breakdown choices and punctuation that were made (Which may have been dictated in the script to be that way or not. I don’t know). Art-wise, the creative teams are solid. Nice, crisp, and clean throughout. Appealing color work by Periya Pillai, and the always-solid lifework of independent comic stand-bys Luis Rivera and Gilbert Monsanto. Rully Akbar, Arman Abeleda, and Bill Marimon, whose work I’ve not encountered before, also turn in nice work on the pages to which they’re contributed.

In conclusion, this book is obviously a zero issue prelude, which was its intent. So in that regard, it succeeds well. It gives you a basic breakdown of the world and the setting of the story, if being a little light on the actual characters themselves. I’ll be looking forward to seeing the next issue, to see if there’s a cohesive story throughout, or if all the issues will be basically broken up into smaller short stories. I hope not.

I’d recommend giving this book a try, hoping that things come together and smooth out in future stories.

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