Review – Tartarus #1 (Image Comics)

Tartarus #1 (Image Comics) cover B (detail) by Johnnie Christmas
  • Writing - 8.3/10
  • Art - 8.3/10
  • Overall - 8.3/10
User Review
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Tartarus #1

Writer: Johnnie Christmas
Artist: Jack T. Cole
Publisher: Image Comics
Maturity Rating: Teen
Release Date: February 12th, 2019

Image’s new series, Tartarus, is set in a future world ready for revolution. Heroes rise and other heroes learn their fates in this epic story. 

A New World Awaits in Tartarus #1

One of the most compelling aspects of science fiction is the world-building. More so than fantasy, even, science fiction has an ability to mirror our own present world with fantastic worlds of the future. The creators of Tartarus #1 aim for this same goal, though with a grittier feel to it. The setting here is a world of seeming contrasts between the powerful and the oppressed. It is a world where law is an instrument of the ruling class, not the liberator of the lower classes. That is to say, it is maybe not too different from a lot of aspects of modern-day society. With the additional backdrop of societal commentary, science fiction becomes even better, and so Tartarus #1 starts off with a lot of potential.


Tartarus #1 (Image Comics) cover A by Jack Cole
Tartarus #1 (Image Comics) cover A by Jack Cole

Johnnie Christmas has the writing duties in Tartarus #1. Image has decided to market the series as a mix of Mos Eisley and Breaking Bad. In truth, this doesn’t really do justice to the story here. The story is broken into two parts, one which leads somewhat into the second, though indirectly. The setting of the first half is well-chosen, as jails and jailbreaks lead to lots of action and suspense and that is what the reader gets here. 

The writing ends up being good, but a bit blunt at times. Characters are introduced too quickly, as the action gets a lot of the focus in the first half. In this case, it could have made more sense to go with less action and more character development or, potentially, to split this first issue into two separate issues. Regardless, the writer does well with concept, setting, and characterization in the second half and leaves a compelling story and coherent setting at the end of this first issue. 


The story is meant to be gritty and the art meets that standard. The artist here is Jack T. Cole. With a similar level of art throughout, it helps to maintain the overall feel. The second half of this issue is lighter than the first half, but it never really feels that way from the visual aspect. That is due to the solid artwork.  


Tartarus #1 is not necessarily sleek or streamlined everywhere that it needs to be, but it does the right things where it needs to. It faces a daunting task, being a sci-fi series starting from scratch, but it gives enough to the reader to keep them interested. While it stumbles a bit on pacing and characterization, all of the necessary elements are there. An ambitious effort like this is hard to judge off of a relatively condensed single issue. This, therefore, deserves the benefit of the doubt, as the stage is set for an epic story.

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