Over the past year or so, I've tried to expand my comic reading to include genres other than superheroes as well as publishers beyond Marvel and DC. My discovery of Comic Geek Speak over a year ago has certainly worked to influence my choices some. And it was on their forums and podcast that I first heard about Titanium Rain.
The creators of the book, Josh Finney and Kat Rocha, are mainstays on the CGS forums, who also put in occasional appearances on the podcast as guests, or through voice-mails aired on the show. It was these experiences that prompted me to look into Titanium Rain when the double-sized issues were solicited from Archaia.
And I'm very glad that I did.
Titanium Rain is a war comic, set in the not-terribly-distant future. This is a nice change, since contemporary war comics seem to be nearly nonexistent. (Wildstorm is publishing a book based on the hit video game series, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, and that's the only other one I can think of.)
In Titanium Rain, the world's major geopolitical players are involved in a war in mainland China. In an effort to keep up with China's vastly superior population, other nations have begun working to enhance their soldiers. The story focuses on Phoenix Squadron, comprised of 'hacks' - so called because their genetics have been 'hacked' and enhanced. Nano-computers in their bodies help them process the vast amounts of information that a fighter pilot needs to - all in the blink of their cybernetic eyes.
The first issue, which comprises of half the book, works to give you the broad strokes of who's involved in the war while also giving you a taste of the characters in the squadron, and it does a perfectly serviceable job. But the second issue is where the book truly stands out. The second issue, in which two of the pilots from Phoenix Squadron see action, also delves into how these particular pilots came to be here. That was the point where I felt Titanium Rain solidly came into it's own with themes of evolution. This material, as well as the art, is what has me salivating over the next book.
And the art deserves special mention. As a rule, I'm more of a fan of story over art. I don't have the best eye, and others have a far better appreciation of the art of a comic than I do. But Josh and Kat have a style that feels bold and crisp to me. It certainly doesn't look like anything else I've ever read.
If you like 'near-future' science fiction stories, or war stories, you should run to your shop to pick a copy up. (Or at least see about ordering the forthcoming hardcover, which includes plenty of extra material.) Even if you don't love those genres, Titanium Rain is worth a look. It's one of the indie comics that has most strongly justified my exploration beyond Marvel and DC.