Thursday, 26 March 2015

New Beginnings - Red One #1

by Matt Puddy

What happens when America’s greatest superhero is a Russian spy?

Well it’s certainly an interesting question to ask and the exact one that this week’s comic poses. Red One, by relative newcomer Xavier Dorison, is set back in the Seventies at the height of the Cold war. Opening in America at a controversial movie screening, the scene is set with the outrage and affront to moral decency that the film's release has caused. As a result of it all the leading lady is singled out and attacked by a shadowy figure simply referred to as the Carpenter. His actions are fanning the flames though and the more he strikes the more that he inspires for the cause.

Around the world several months later, a young Russian agent is seen putting young recruits as well as older agents to shame with her prowess, and to a degree her attitude. If anything in the contrary to the stereotypes many people have about Seventies, Russia she has a very liberal lifestyle. All of that has to come to an end though when she is summoned to find out her new and highly secretive mission.

To infiltrate the United States.

Armed with a Walkman (which cunningly hid a receiver), some rather revealing clothes and her can-do attitude, Vera heads for the States with a mission to emulate the quietly rising popularity of comic book icons such as Batman by using her physical attributes in more ways than one. This is a point which is highly emphasised when she finally meets her contact in the United States who provides her with a uniform (of sorts), which is apparently a little revealing, although that’s not something Vera is afraid of. With the first part of her infiltration well on the way to being a success, the only way is up.

The Dodsons provide the artwork for the series with some fantastic work. I earlier reviewed Princess Leia which also featured the Dodson’s artwork, but somehow even though it’s the same artist and colourist paring, the work here feels cleaner and better. Lines are neat and fresh, and the colour work matches and shifts with the environment creating a real feel for the different locations we see people in.

There is one thing that did irk me a little though, and that is the premise of the whole comic is based around a Russian spy imbedded in the American system, but in this first issue we just haven’t got there yet. This is an incredibly fun comic to read, but it might have been better if it had started in media res, jumping right into the heart of the action. That said it will be good to see this develop and the hijinks that Vera finds herself in as she adjusts to Western capitalist society. Along the way there is also the idea that she has to win the hearts and minds of the American public by being a hero too, which could put her in direct opposition to the Carpenter. Will she manage it? Will it be a bust? And who will she fight it out with? Only future issues will tell.

Matt Puddy is intrigued to see how this miniseries pans out.

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