Action Tank #1 Review
Action Tank #1 follows a boy who just wants to get home in time for dinner. Action Tank is written and illustrated by Mike Barry.
Action Tank is the story of a boy who finds himself on the other side of the Solar System and has to get home in time for his mom’s spaghetti carbonara. Good thing he’s in possession of the most powerful piece of technology in the universe – The Action Tank!
Action Tank #1 is published by Scout Comics imprint Scoot, and is available from August 4, 2021.
Action Tank #1 Story
Action Tank #1 is intended as an easy access issue to lead into the Action Tank graphic novel to release at the end of the year, and it absolutely achieves that goal. I’m trying to remember the last time I felt a story both dropped me into the middle of a strange world and yet still stopped me from ever feeling lost. There’s actually a lot going on in this issue, but never does it feel over-stuffed.
In fact, I’d dare say that it has some of the smoothest pacing I’ve read in a comic in a while. Not saying that it does anything particularly groundbreaking with it, but the pacing flows incredibly well and that’s exactly what a story aimed at a younger audience should do. It shouldn’t be difficult for them to follow along and should move at a pace that keeps them engaged, and Barry knocks it out of the park.
The language of the story is also surprisingly sophisticated. It isn’t complex and is quite simple for a younger reader to understand, yet Barry avoids a pitfall (and a pet peeve of mine) that a lot of people writing for kids seem to fall into in that they talk down to their audience. Action Tank talks directly to them and invites them to join in on a wild adventure.
One particular quality of the story struck me as I read; Action Tank almost reads like a dream or an old fable. A lot of stories aimed at children will go for weird, yet Barry steps past weird and goes for something more akin to surreal. This may be pretentious to say, but I would be willing to even say Action Tank borders upon being an avant-garde children’s story. It simply has this quality to the language, setting, and structure that pushes it into that territory, even if it does keep itself firmly on the accessible side.
Action Tank #1 Art
Barry’s art matches those qualities I spoke about in the story, the dream-like and surreal. It is fairly simplistic in terms of detail and rarely has any real sense of depth, yet these are not flaws. They help give everything this otherworldly feel that meshes so well with the strange adventure our protagonist is on. Barry instead takes full advantage of panel layouts and different angles to get the most out of every panel and page.
The lettering is dynamic throughout, with perhaps only a couple of places where the dialogue balloons may confuse newer readers. The colour palette choice is also fantastic for a story like this, warm and energetic throughout. The art invites the reader to settle in and never pushes them away.
Action Tank #1 Conclusion
This is one of those fantastic books that is such an easy read even if it isn’t your style. My only real complaint is that it was paced so well that it felt like a much smaller book than it is, I was shocked when I realized I was at the end when I thought I had only just started to read. The voice of the writing makes it highly accessible to all different age groups, even those who may not consider themselves readers. This is also an intro, which is great because if you do buy it for someone whose eager for more after reading the full graphic novel is coming in December.