This review is based on 5 chapters, of which 7 are available. Before I begin, I want to stress that I DO like the premise of Tattoo, and the episodes are interesting once each problem is fleshed out and the action begins. But Tattoo fails to satisfy on several levels, and blame for this lies mostly in one-dimensional character development.
The premise starts with an evil twin stealing Glory’s magic book, though she is never seen doing so. The conflict between the two sisters is realistic enough, and the first few pages had me squirming for this realism. But once Lori steals Glory’s book and kills their mother, she’s a classic MacGuffin. Glory MUST find Lori…but first she has to (blank). Blank represents each task that Glory sets herself up for, and again, Lori never shows up. She’s the one-armed man to Glory’s Dr. Richard Kimble.
Glory protects herself from potential attacks from her evil twin by covering her body with magic tattoos. She doesn’t know what many of them do, so a part of many episodes is dedicated to Glory tapping into newfound abilities. But even after she becomes immortal and conveniently wealthy, Glory remains one-dimensional. Like many comic book superheroes, she has no personal life. She’s so self-sacrificing that it’s a caricature, and conversely, she despises everybody.
The narration is mostly told through Glory’s perspective, so her dislike of people bleeds into the interpretations of every character and every event. Glory is a paradox, claiming not to judge others while she spends most of her free time judging them as being unfit for her company. Once Glory gets over herself and agrees to help someone, each episode picks up and becomes vastly more interesting. Then the series is like an episodic comic or manga where the hero must learn some new aspect of their skills to face (though not always fight) the “crunchy o’ the week.”
The action is good, but the story cries for better character development. None of the people Glory helps have personalities. They have problems that are interesting, but that’s it. Glory isn’t much better. In between moments of action, her thoughts run in a cycle: I must find Lori; why hasn’t Lori attacked me lately; why do humans suck; I wish I could stay at home and read a book.
I keep reading because Glory’s magic studies and the guest star monsters are interesting. But the narrator needs to pick up some of the tact Glory uses once she’s forced to be civil. And glory needs to do something else in her life besides obsess compulsively over her sister and despise other people.
Finally there’s the problem with a lack of tension to Glory’s encounters. Whether Lori is planning an attack or not doesn’t matter, because Glory is guaranteed to win. There’s no sense of suspense to any of Glory’s fights, or to her interactions with the monsters.
Because of that lack of scariness, I feel the story is misclassified as horror. It’s got very little blood or violence, and the monsters are almost exceedingly polite to Glory. It’s a good action serial and a good fantasy story. With an artist teaming up with the writer, it would work great as a superhero comic. But as horror it falls flat.
If it were a fantasy story or a comic, I would rate it 3.5 stars. But since the story is billed as horror—with warnings on the front page about graphic content—it loses a half a star to end up at 3. It’s an interesting story, but one that needs work to give the characters depth.