Written by: Joe Keatinge
Art by: Khary Randolph
Publisher: Image Comics
Tech Jacket is back, and this time, he’s in print. After the wildly successful digital revival of Tech Jacket back in January, Joe Keatinge and Khary Randolph have teamed up again to bring the fan favorite back to print.
The first issue in the new series features Zach Thompson, a community college drop-out, spending time with his unemployed father and clearing threatening aliens from the galaxy. It’s an interesting amalgamation of earth-life and science fiction, combining the mundane tasks of humans with the superhero tasks Tech Jacket faces out in space.
Keatinge doesn’t spend a lot of time focusing on Tech Jacket’s origin story, but even a reader who isn’t familiar with Invincible or the original Tech Jacket series can pick up a few hints about where he’s come from, and it encourages readers to check out his previous comic book manifestations. Some parts may be confusing, but this issue doesn’t explore any relationships in depth and most readers will be able to make sense of the story without relying on outside information. So far, the story is easy to understand without having any background knowledge on the character and is as good of an introduction as any.
The lack of back story makes the issue move quickly and gives it more room to explore other themes, like the connection between Zach and his father. The dialogue between the two is casual and lighthearted, and while it can be a little bit cheesy, it helps to characterize Zack as a normal dude who is stuck living with his parents, despite his status as a “guardian of the galaxy” and his bad ass Tech Jacket suit. Keatinge does a great job setting up the character and revealing what he cares about: family, kicking butt, and his alien girlfriend.
Keatinge also moves the plot forward more than some introductory issues do: we’ve already been introduced to a mysterious villain, Mr. Crowe, who is building a mecha army, and Zach’s Geldarian girlfriend is already in danger off on Mercury. The plot is simple and it builds off of a lot of well-established tropes, the villain with the super army and the damsel in distress, but it’s appealing and well-paced.
Randolph’s art in this issue is really great. It’s consistent with the art in the Invincible universe, but Randolph makes Tech Jacket his own, combining the Invincible style with the sort of style you might see in a mech manga or anime show. The colorist, David McCaig, does an absolutely phenomenal job. The colors are rich and vibrant, and they do a great job of establishing the setting by using warm, orange tones for scenes on earth and brilliant blues and greens for the space scenes.
Overall, this is a great introduction to Tech Jacket’s newest manifestation, and it will be interesting to see where Keatinge and his team take Zach next.