Thursday, November 18, 2010

Tron: Betrayal by Jai Nitz, Jeff Matsuda and Andie Tong

Long ago, there was a computer system that belonged to a corporation called Encom. Encom had started as a science tech company in one man's garage, and gotten large and powerful. Employed by the company was a computer programmer named Flynn, one who spent his free time coding computer arcade games, until his ideas and code were stolen by a fellow programmer named Dillinger, who used the power and money this generated to become the President of the Company. Flynn quit in disgust and opened an arcade named Flynn's, where he made money playing the games that he'd developed.

Also part of the company was Flynn's ex-girlfriend. Lora, and her new boyfriend, Alan Bradley. Alan had created a program, Tron, that would monitor the Master Control Program that ran the systems at Encom. The MCP didn't want this, as it was breaking into other systems and stealing programs and data from them, even from the systems of other governments. When Alan was locked out of the system, he and Laura approached Flynn for help, as Flynn was a master programmer. Flynn had his own reasons for wanting to help- he wanted to look for the proof that Dillinger stole his work. Alan and Laura helped him get into the building, and Flynn went to work.

In the lab where the scientist who formerly owned the company was working on a program and way to tranlocate objects, Flynn tried to break into the MCP of Encom. The MCP utilized the equipment there to digitize Flynn and draw him into the computer, where he was treated as a program and sent to the cruel gladiatorial games the MCP ran inside its mainframe. But Flynn had powers as a user the other programs didn't, and used them to escape, along with two other programs, TRON and RAM. Coming under attack from creations he had developed, a tank game and constructs known as "Recognizers", they came under attack and were separated, RAM was injured, and Flynn confessed to RAM what he was before RAM died. Together, Flynn and TRON took on the MCP and its henchman, Sark, and freed the Encom computer from the MCP's control. Flynn was returned to the real world, Dillinger was arrested and indicted, and Flynn took over from Dillinger.

But afterwards, Flynn found himself returning to the world inside the computer, dealing with its problems and working with TRON to restore order and harmony. But at the same time, on the outside world, Flynn's girlfriend Jordan Canas is pregnant with his son, and between the world inside the computer, his job as President of Encom, and his real-life concerns, he is being pulled in three very different directions that each need him to be everything. To help him in the digital world, Flynn resurrects a program he once created called CLU to be his deputy in the world inside the computer.

At first, they work well together, and everything seems to be going fine. But when Flynn's son is born, and Jordan dies, CLU starts getting resentful of Flynn's life in the world of the users, and wonders why he can't have as much concern for his life inside the computer. He also disagrees with Flynn about new programs showing up on the grid, called ISOs. CLU wants to exterminate the ISOs, certain that they are poisoning the new system, but Flynn wants to let them be and develop at their own pace so he can see what happens with them and where they go from here.

But when Flynn decides that his life belongs to his son, and steps down from leading Encom, leaving Alan in charge, and stops coming to play in his digital world, what will CLU do to retain control of his digital kingdom? And what lengths will he go to, to enforce his control?

This comic attempts to bridge the gap between the original TRON movie, and the new TRON movie that came out this year. In that, it's somewhat successful. We don't get to see how Flynn met his lover (since she doesn't take his last name, I'm not entirely sure that they were married), but it's certainly possible that they were together at the time of the events in the original film, and we just never saw her.

But more of the conflict comes from something else of Flynn's creation: CLU. Part of the problem is that CLU, as a computer program, can't understand that Flynn's son'd needs come before his own, and since programs might be able to fall in love, they can't have children. Therefore, CLU will never understand Flynn's relationship with his child and why Flynn needs to be there for his son first. In fact, the ISOs, too, are Flynn's children, in a way, born from the seed of a computer that he programmed. And so it is something of a dynastic battle between Flynn's children. CLU versus the ISOs versus his son in the real world. CLU sees Flynn preferring his other children over CLU, and acts out to try and focus Flynn on doing what CLU thinks is important.

Or some sort of God and Lucier/Satan analogy, with CLU being Satan who is hurt by Flynn/God's attention on something he detests and looks down upon, and so he rebels against what Flynn wants- but he hasn't been cast out, not yet.

The comic makes Flynn's vision far-reaching in other aspects as well, such as the fact that Encom should expand into other markets in the far east, and the fact that oil as a power source is on the way out, making Flynn into much more of a visionary than he seemed to be in the original movie. I can't really say it's out of character for him, but I did find it fairly startling.

I ended up enjoying this comic a good bit, and there were certain startling aspects of it for me as well. The art is okay- the characters generally resemble their actors from the original film, but I didn't recognize them until the comic named them. Okay, except for Flynn- Alan only appears in one scene and I don't think we see Lora at all. There's a blonde that could be her in one of the scenes when Flynn arrives at Encom, and she and Alan appear (from the side) in one panel in a flashback sequence with a Flynn that doesn't in any way resemble himself in the rest of the book or the movie. So, the art is only okay. But otherwise, I had no real complaint, with the story or the comic. Recommended, but not really for the art.

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