It is hard to believe that we’d be talking about TRON these days. The original film is one that is near and dear to my heart and when production on the sequel was announced, I was thrilled. Created as a tie-in to the 2010 Disney film, TRON Betrayal covers the period of time between the original TRON and TRON: Legacy. After a brief recap of the first film, we find hotshot programmer Kevin Flynn as the rightful owner of Encom. Using his position to fund research into advance computer systems, Flynn has utilized digitization technology in order to build a system from within. Bringing with him TRON, Alan Bradley’s security program, the two fight computer bugs that threaten the realization of Flynn’s digital world. Flynn finds it difficult to juggle his work for Encom and the imminent birth of his son and in order to help manage his life, he creates a program in his own image, CLU, and commands him to build a perfect system. When isometric algorithms begin to spontaneously appear within the computer world, Flynn is ecstatic about the possibilities while CLU sees them as disruptive. The Isos serve as the main source of contention between Flynn and CLU, an argument that will have serious ramifications.
As a graphic novel, TRON Betrayal is a fun piece of work for those hungry for more TRON. However, it really doesn’t bring anything new to the table. The events in the graphic novel are presented more or less the same way in the film, so if you’ve seen TRON Legacy, none of what you’ll find here is altogether new, merely fleshed out. However, it was enjoyable to see Flynn during happier times as well as his interactions with TRON, post-Master Control Program. Surprisingly, for a comic that details the rise of CLU and Flynn’s exile off the Grid, it doesn’t show the program’s coup as depicted in the film.
The script for the graphic novel is solid and contains a large number of references to Rome (thankfully, they are not heavy handed), which function as a nice way to develop Flynn’s hubris. The graphic novel’s artwork is inconsistent due to a number of artists working on different parts of the story, but they are self contained and limited to single chapters. The prologue has a distinct manga feel that works in some spots (but not others) while the remainder of the book uses a more Western style. TRON Betrayal’s color work in the computer world is incredibly vivid and by setting bright colors and trim against incredibly dark backgrounds, objects and outfits, it nearly mimics the glowing effect the films are known for.
While it really doesn’t add too much to the mythos of the franchise, TRON Betrayal is nonetheless an enjoyable read and serves as a fun way to introduce new audiences to a film that ushered in an age of computer animation. With no violence or harsh language, this is a graphic novel that can appeal to everyone, especially video game fans.
by Jai Nitz
Art by Jeff Matsuda, Andie Tong, and Pete Pantazis
Disney Press, 2010
Publisher Age Rating: 10+