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Archive for October, 2010

Reviewer: Eden Zacarias

Publisher: DC Comics
Writer: J. Michael Straczynski
Artist: Shane Davis
Genre: Graphic Novel (Hardcover)
MSRP: $19.99 U.S.
Release Date: Available Now


I have to admit that I haven’t picked up a Superman comic lately and it’s not because the Man of Steel has lost touch with me but because a part of me thought that there isn’t much more than can happen to our favorite Kryptonian hero. After picking up Superman: One Earth, I found the love I have for this character rekindled by a new kind of flame that could only happen when a brilliant writer and a first-rate artist come together to bring us a re-imagined Superman that doesn’t fail to make you believe in Superman once again.

If One Earth was a movie it would be considered a Superman reboot of the Dark Knight mold. It finds a 20-year old Clark Kent on his way to the thriving city of Metropolis on bus rather than by air because he wanted time to reflect on the meaning of his existence and his future. You see, Clark has come to get a job that would earn him more than enough money to live comfortably knowing that his mother back in Smallville will never have to worry about money ever again.

So begins Clark Kent’s quest to find a job fitting of his abilities in a city that could swallow a person whole … a city where – on his first night – has Clark face to face with an armed thug. Of course, it’s the armed thug who has to worry. Still, this doesn’t stop him from showing up at all his scheduled meetings. His first stop is football tryouts where he leaves the coach flabbergasted. In his other appointment, he actually solves a complicated theorem at the Research and Development department of a big corporation. He even tries his hand at other jobs with high-paying salaries.

Then, as fate would have it, Clark Kent finds himself in front of Perry White, the Editor-in-Chief of the Daily Planet. A lively and colorful character, Mister White tells him that the publication isn’t doing as well as the other rags in town but he likes the articles he wrote when he was writing for the community college paper. It is during the meeting that Clark first meets Lois Lane and photographer Jimmy Olsen. Both Lois and Jimmy care about their jobs and push themselves like no other writing and photography professionals. As inspiring as it is to see them, the job doesn’t pay much so Clark tosses the application in the trash.

Meanwhile, in a secret military installation, the remains of an alien craft is still being studied but suddenly, thanks to an approaching anomaly in space, the craft starts to emit energy. The result of this activity with the craft makes a fragment Clark had in his room heat up enough to start a fire in his pad. Grabbing the fragment and flying away with it, the off metallic piece beams strange memories of another world and of parents that could have been his blood relation. Together with what Martha and Jonathan Kent, his adoptive parents, told him, it begins to make sense.

As it turns out, the ship reacted to an actual alien invasion. As fleets of invader ships start showing up and Clark caught in a sort of mental download with the ship. In the meantime, the attack on Earth begins and a leader reveals himself to the world. He is Tyrell, a being looking for somebody and will destroy the world if that somebody does not appear before him. Naturally, the world does not know who that person and Major Sandra Lee who has been overlooking the ship that brought the infant once called Kal-El thinks it might be the person who came with the ship.

Conflicted and wondering if this was the moment his parents had prepared him for back at the Kent farm, it is watching Jimmy Olsen and Lois Lane doing their job and confronting the alien leader via a robot that he is inspired to finally step up to the plate to defend the planet. Donning the suit his mother made from the material he was wrapped in as an infant, Superman is born. As he goes up against Tyrell, the being reveals a lot about his people and what led to the fate of Krypton.

The battle is as epic as you would expect from a Superman story and even more impressive thanks to the determination of both these super beings. One fights to carry out a mission that was placed before him and his people and the other to defend his adopted home. Tyrell proves to be a very formidable foe who even pushes Superman to his limits and even Jimmy and Lois step in to help him.

I won’t ruin what happens next but I will say that the threat still remains as the entire world begins to wonder what to make of Superman. Is he Earth’s savior or is his very presence a danger to the planet? As Superman considers his new role and he finally makes a decision on the career path for him. Superman becomes known and he is fulfilling his parents wishes. On a side note, Straczynski adds a Lois Lane article and Clark Kent’s “interview” with Superman at the end of the story.

Without a doubt, J. Michael Straczynski tells a very human story of an extraordinary man that isn’t even human as he finds his place in a world that isn’t his and his fate as defender of the planet. This is the familiar Superman mythology but on a whole new scale and Shane Davis adds the cherry on top of this already impressive piece with art that is stunningly beautiful.

We’ve seen reboots and re-imaginings before for our favorite super heroes in comics before but it takes a true pair of talents to mess with the Superman mythos and do right by it. Superman: Earth One is not only the right way to retell the Superman story but it is also the right way to tell a story of this magnitude. Both Straczynski and Davis deserve a lot of praise for this great piece of storytelling.
 

COMIC REVOLUTION RATING BREAKDOWN

STORY: A+
A 20-year old Clark Kent arrives in the city of Metropolis not only looking for career path that will do right by his mother back in Smallville but he is also here to find his place in the world and finally fit into a world that will never understand his power. When an alien invasion threatens all humanity, the young man finds out the truth about himself and answers the call to do what is right.

ART: A+
Shane Davis is a true comic book artist whose work is not only pleasing to the eye but also unforgettable. The gorgeous details are just too hard to ignore. There are also sketches at the end of the story that are worth a look.

OVERALL: A+
Superman: Earth One is like discovering the Man of Steel all over again so believe me when I say that reading this one is like being a witness to the rebirth of a legend. Straczynski and Davis boldly shows us a re-imagined young Superman for a new generation of fans. If you haven’t read a Superman story lately, this is the one you really should not miss.
Review copy provided by DC Comics

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Reviewer: Eden Zacarias

Publisher: Vertigo (DC Comics)
Writers: Matt Sturges, Peter Milligan, Matt Wagner, Chris Roberson and Mike Carey
Artists: Luca Rossi, Brandon Graham, Giuseppe Camuncoli, Michael Allred and Peter Gross
Genre: Comic Book
MSRP: $4.99 U.S.
Release Date: Available Now

Being in a office filled with House of Mystery fans is not easy and when we do manage to get a copy you can bet that arms will do some wrestling, hands will produce rock, paper or scissors and hopscotch wars will be waged to read it. So, when House of Mystery Halloween Annual #2 came our way, the same happened and you can already guess who the winner was, right? Oh, it’s good to be Editor-in-Chief.

If you missed the first Halloween Annual of House of Mystery, you shouldn’t worry because this is the type of comic book you can pick up at any point and just start reading. This one contains five stories that, in its own way, involves four unique trick-or-treaters that have been showing up in people’s porches since the 1950s. This time around, they find themselves in front of House of Mystery’s own Cain who lets them into the crazy establishment run by Fig (in a Super Girl costume, no less).

It is here that they explain to Fig that the gruesome-looking foursome has been cursed by a gypsy back in the 1950s one Halloween night. There they were, dressed as a pirate, a princess, a cowboy and a devil, daring themselves to walk into the gypsy’s home to ask for candy when the old woman yells at them to leave. Seeing this as a perfect opportunity to play a trick on the gypsy, the four are caught tossing toilet paper at her home and are then cursed. If you love trick-or-treating so much they should do it forever.

Fig believes that Madam Scarpignato could help lift the curse and she happens to be at the establishment as well but before she could perform a curse-lifting spell something very unfortunate happens to her by the hands of one of the twisted trick-or-treaters. Oh well, perhaps they were meant to keep asking for candy.

They disappear and show up at Madam Xanadu’s place and she invites them into her unusual home in search for a special treat for each one of them. What the four find is a treat but of a very different kind and one that gives us a look at the troubled life of each of the four. Later, they show up in front of another door but the real story doesn’t involve them but rather the paranormal investigator we all know as John Constantine of Hellblazer fame.

Constantine isn’t crazy about Halloween and the fact that it’s become something of a commercialized joke over the years. He’s not having a great night either because a lovely succubus doesn’t want to leave him alone and reminds him of that girl that got away. We see a rare glimpse of Constantine when he was a teenager in love with a young girl who moved into his neighborhood. When an adult tells him to stay away from the girl, Constantine wishes something horrible happens to the man and – surprisingly – something horrible does happen.

In another story involving the iZombie characters, we find Gwendolyn and her friends Tricia and Darius prepared to cross Devil’s Lake in Oregon. She is just about the only one who is not afraid of taking a canoe across the body of water said to house a water monster that resulted in the death of a group of Native Americans by the very creature itself. However, nothing really happened to these teens except a prank from the same trick-or-treaters.

Finally, the Annual ends with the four showing up during the apocalypse as Heaven’s warriors take on Satan and his minions when they encounter a demon and his sister. As the war wages on, our demon friend makes the cursed four a deal that just doesn’t go as planned thanks to a failure to communicate one simple fact.

The each of the five stories aren’t horrific tales but they are too well-written that you won’t mind the low scare factor. In fact, the stories are exactly what you might expect from the talented writers involved and if you’re a Hellblazer fan you will not be disappointed with the Constantine short story. The same can be said about the artwork that works thanks to topnotch artists like Brandon Graham, Michael Allred, Luca Rossi, Peter Gross and Giuseppe Camuncoli.

House of Mystery Halloween Annual #2 is an even better annual this year thanks not only to the talented writers and artists involved but also the stories that are actually deeply involving, funny, sad and absolutely fun to read. Believe me when I say that there’s everything for everyone. So far, this is the best Halloween Annual of House of Mystery yet.

COMIC REVOLUTION RATING BREAKDOWN

STORY: A
The cursed trick-or-treaters find themselves walking into one nightmare after another as they start with a visit with Cain and his familiar cohorts and then whisked away to Madam Xanadu’s interesting sanctum. Meanwhile, we get a rare and interesting look into John Constantine’s youth and the iZombie kids test their courage on a lake said to house a monster. Finally, the war between Heaven and Hell has begun and it might not be the best place to finds some Halloween treats … or is it?

ART: A+
It’s an impressive lineup again but you will find yourself loving the fact that Luca Rossi and Giuseppe Camuncoli provide art in the same comic. Add that unique Brandom Graham touch, the sharp Michael Allred pencils and Peter Gross’s art, you have yourself a real visual treat. They’ll need a spatula to peel your eyes off this one.

OVERALL: A
If you really liked the first Halloween Annual, you will love this second annual of House of Mystery and with good reason … the stories are simply too warped, funny and downright enthralling to want to put this comic down. There’s just everything for everyone this year and with the talent proving the words and pictures, it just doesn’t get any better than this.
Review copy provided by Vertigo (DC Comics)

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Reviewer: Emma Coverdale

Publisher: Vertigo (DC Comics)
Writers: Peter Straub and Michael Easton
Artist: John Bolton
Genre: Graphic Novel (hardcover)
MSRP: $24.99 U.S.
Release Date: Available Now

Peter Straub fans know the name of Fielding “Fee” Bandolier and know it well since he’s the serial killer that haunted the dreams of readers and that goes especially for Straub’s successful novel, “The Throat” that unleashed Fee in true Straub tradition. Together with Michael Easton and brilliant artist, John Bolton, Peter Straub brings us The Green Woman … a tale you will not forget anytime soon.

The Green Woman begins with none other than aging serial killer Fee Bandolier (who bares the likeness of actor Peter Capaldi) contemplating the unfairness of not getting what he deserves out of life. Drowning his troubles in booze at the empty pub called The Green Lady, Fee starts hearing the voices of the women he had murdered over the long years of killing. He remembers them as they were and sees them as he had left them … mangled and decomposing.

Interestingly enough, there’s a young killer who – having long admired Fee’s work – wants to replace him as the new serial killer legend. He comes to see Fee with a bloody gift to prove he’s ready to take the title but the voice in The Green Woman tells him he still has another commitment before he could get his reward and let the new killer, Billy, take his place.

Meanwhile, in the city, a Detective named Bob Steele wakes up with a beautiful naked woman by his side. It seems that Bob, whose father named him after a 1950s television western hero, had one too many drinks and ended up marrying a sexy girl in Atlantic City. Despite his drinking problem, Steele is good at what he does and is in the middle of an investigate in a series of killing by a sadistic monster dubbed the Virgin Killer because he dresses his female victims in white. A lead in the case takes Steele to a church where he suspects a young Irish gardener working at the church.

Fee, on the other hand, is working on his latest victim who happens to be a beautiful Asian woman that reminds him of somebody in his past. In fact, we get a very intriguing look at Fee when he was a soldier during the Vietnam War. Even then, Fee (known as Bachelor), showed his twisted side that even his commanding officers noticed right away. Yet instead of discharging him, a military advisor gave him his own unit where Fee meets his first real female victim … the woman he loved.

As Fee and his victim get to know each another, it becomes clear that Fee no longer wants to continue killing. Could it be that something about his victim that is triggering not only his memories but the fact that his beloved meant something special. Unfortunately, this doesn’t stop him from finishing what he set out to do.

Steele, on the other hand, is at a dead end with the Virgin Killer case. He knows who did it but the person has an alibi and ends up killing another before heading back to his home country. Determined to bring him to justice anyway, Steele goes to Ireland only to find that the pub where the Virgin Killer likes to hang out happens to be built from the same wood as an old galleon that resulted in the shipmates going crazy and killing each another.

Oh but things get supernatural when Steele enters the pub and before he knows it he is used by the very entity. He ends up doing something he never thought he would do and learns that the galleon’s figurehead might actually be in the United States.

While Steele is taken out of the game thanks to the incident in Ireland, he decides to finally follow the clue he had been waiting for in the Fee case and follows it in a final showdown that is not only shocking but also one you will not forget anytime soon. Leave it to Peter Straub and Michael Easton (who on top of being a hunky actor is the author of Soul Stealer) to weave a most disturbing and compelling tale.

Most amazing is the art by John Bolton that sports a water painting style with lifelike character models. In fact, as I mentioned in the beginning, Fee Bandolier himself sports the face of well-known actor Peter Capaldi so seeing him in this role gives us hope that Straub’s character should appear on the big screen someday.

Straub, Easton and Bolton create a vision of true evil in a story that brilliantly takes us to the darkness of a black soul and something that seems to pull the strings from someplace even more darker. The Green Woman will grab you by the throat and grip it tightly until the final, shocking and spine-tingling finale. As a fan of horror fiction, The Green Woman is a graphic novel that needs to be in your library.

COMIC REVOLUTION RATING BREAKDOWN

STORY: A+
Fee Bandolier is back but he’s too tired to continue his killing spree but he has a job to do before he steps aside to let a younger killer take over. Nipping at Fee’s heels is a young detective named Bob Steele who is determined to find him and put and end to the serial killer’s reign. It is trying to stop another murder that Steele discovers a supernatural twist to the story.

ART: A+
John Bolton is a master artist who – with a few brush strokes – will not fail to drop your jaw and if you want proof of that all you have to do is opening The Green Woman and see for yourself. You will not be able to peel your eyes off this graphic novel.

OVERALL: A+
The Green Woman is what you get when you have a master horror novelist like Straub backed up by a talent like Easton and a visionary artist come together to produce a work of this magnitude. Dark, chilling and smartly written with art that‘s just too gorgeous, this is a graphic novel for true horror aficionados and those looking for a truly unforgettable story.

Review copy provided by Vertigo (DC Comics)

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Reviewer: Eden Zacarias
Publisher: Vertigo Crime (DC Comics)
Writer: Denise Mina
Artist: Antonio Fuso
Genre: Graphic Novel (Hardcover)
MSRP: $19.99 U.S.
Release Date: Available Now
Sam Usher’s life hasn’t been easy.

It’s bad enough that his brother William and his sister Amy constantly remind him that he’s adopted but he watches daily as his adoptive parents – Ted and Biddy – bicker constantly while his grandmother sits neglected by the rest of this English family. Then something horrible occurs that leads to the gruesome and mysterious fall of the house of Usher in A Sickness In The Family … a dark crime story with a chilling twist.

Sam is a witness to the occurrence that lead the young man to end up in the most unexpected of places but it all began on Christmas when Usher’s downstairs neighbor returns from the hospital after receiving a beating from her husband who didn’t even trouble himself to pick her up. Instead, she comes home to find her husband drinking with his friends and already demanding that he tend to his little party. He was never like this before they moved there so what made him change?

Unfortunately, Christmas does not end pretty for the neighbors downstairs as all the Usher family hears the sickening sounds of brutality and when they decided to see if everyone is Ok, they witness a bloody sight indeed. Sam is quick to notice words scrawled in blood, an unfinished sentence, really that says simple says “THIS PLACE.”

Seeing a business opportunity, Ted decides to buy the downstairs apartment and renovate their home to include a staircase to the new rooms downstairs. Of course, nobody is happy about this decision. His daughter Amy, you see, wants the money to start her own business that his father did not help her set up and William (who has a nasty drug habit) has a huge debt to the university after having been kicked out off campus. Then there’s Biddy who would have loved to have seen the money go to a good nursing home for her elderly mother instead of putting up with her.

Strangely enough, after having made a hole in the ground to make room for the staircase, odd things start happening. First off, all the Ushers minus Sam start fighting more often. Biddy, it seems, has been cheating and Ted is determined to see it stop. Meanwhile, Amy and Will being to fight over the money they will inherit. The worst, however, comes when the elderly Martha is found in the bottom of the hole. The family begins to speculate whether the old woman had a stroke then fell into the hole or she was pushed down there by Ted. Unfortunately, Martha isn’t able to speak.

Since the rest of the family doesn’t seem to care about Martha after dumping her in one of the rooms downstairs, Sam decides to watch over his grandmother despite the fact that he has his studies to worry about and exams to take. Then things start to get more crazy when Biddy is found dead and the rest of the family is hauled into the police station for questioning.

It doesn’t take too long for Sam to come to the conclusion that ever since they obtained to lower apartment that things between his family started to go from bad to horrible. Doing research online, Sam makes a discovery that the very spot where they live was the center of a famous witch burning incident. According to the website, a witch cursed the very place they now live. Could this the reason his neighbors ended up dead and his family’s downfall?

Suddenly, more Usher family members start to die starting with Sam’s brother whose problem lead to his dismissal from the university. His death simply doesn’t add up but with only three Ushers remaining the story takes a most interesting and macabre twist. Really, you will not see it coming and this is thanks to Denise Mina’s brilliant writing. If you know her novel then you know what to expect from her. On top of that there’s Antonio Fuso’s talents that make the visuals even more suspenseful.

A Sickness In The Family is a dark and suspenseful tale that really will get under your skin in the creepiest and best way possible. This, of course, has a lot to do with the writing that will keep you hooked until the final twist and yes the art is classic crime noir fare that makes you glad Vertigo Crime continues to keep these comics alive and well. If you love a good vintage crime noir comic then you need to buy this book.

COMIC REVOLUTION RATING BREAKDOWN

STORY: B+
The Usher family has always been dysfunctional but a brutal murder in the downstairs flat makes the head of the family want to expand their lot only to find that, one by one, the family begins to go down an even more dysfunctional road. The adopted member of the family, Sam, thinks it might be a curse that is quickly destroying his family as members of the house of Usher begin to die.

ART: A
You have to love the black and white and shades of gray that make Antonio Fuso’s art look like a true crime noir comic. It works beautifully for this story.

OVERALL: B+
A twisted tale about a very dysfunctional family, A Sickness In The Family is Denise Mina and Antonio Fuso’s dark masterpiece. Watching this family crumble apart like ashes is a strange delight and that is thanks to a wonderfully elaborate story and excellent art that – put them together – paints a very dark and morbid story that is true to the crime genre.

Review copy provided by Vertigo (DC Comics)

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Reviewer: Faith McAdams

Publisher: Vertigo (DC Comics)
Writer: Mat Johnson
Artist: Simon Gane
Genre: Graphic Novel (Hardcover)
MSRP: $24.99 U.S.
Release Date: Available Now

You know you’re reading a masterpiece when said masterpiece in question not only breaks your heart but keeps your eyes glued to each page until you come to the very end of it. This is the feeling I got when I picked up and started reading Dark Rain: A New Orleans Story that tells the story of two men looking for the ultimate score only to find themselves experiencing the aftermath of hurricane Katrina and its toll on such a beautiful and culturally rich city.

It is August 29, 2005 and the city of New Orleans finds itself in an eerie calmness before Katrina changes the city forever. A lovely pregnant woman named Sarah from the lower 9th Ward of the city joins an elderly woman in her home that was suppose to be secure enough to withstand the hurricane. Within a few minutes, water began to seep through the cracks and suddenly Mrs, Ledet’s place becomes too flooded that Sarah is the only one who escapes to the roof alive. What she sees from atop the roof is a sight that we are now very familiar with through pictures of the devastation.

Meanwhile, in Houston, Texas, two ex-convicts share a closet-sized room in a halfway house after having served a part of their sentence. One of them is ex-Airborne Ranger Dabny Arceneaux who – as a customs officer – turned a blind eye to some illegal activities and was caught taking a bribe. The other is New Orleans resident and assistant bank clerk, Emmit Jack, who was caught inside the vault with his hands on some cash. Both are good men who are aware they made a mistake but are looking for a second chance and doing what is right.

However, nobody want to give an ex-convict second chances that easily as Dabny quickly finds out when he is denied a bank load to purchase a salvage boat to earn money to pay his ex-wife child support for his daughter he isn’t even allowed to see. Emmit is looking for a second chance too but it involves heading to the flooded Congo Square in New Orleans to break into the bank where he worked. While it may sound like greed, Emmit plans on using the money to put an end to the corrupt banking institutions in New Orleans and open an honest bank.

Unfortunately, Emmit turns to Driggs who is the commander of the Dark Rain security force that is made up of ex-military men. The Colonel is a man who Dabny is very familiar with seeing as he was a part of Drigg’s unit in Iraq and knows the man has some very unsavory ways of carrying out his duty. As it turns out, Drigg’s likes Emmit’s idea of breaking into a bank in a city that is currently in ruins but he isn’t about to make Emmit a part of his own plan.

Now the two men race towards New Orleans trying to beat Driggs and his men from reaching the bank. They travel by motorcycle for awhile before they discover that roads are closed and nobody is being let into the area except for Dark Rain security and the very few relief workers bringing in what little aid they can. Where is FEMA and the Red Cross? Where is the National Guard, for that matter?

Finding a pilot from Dark Rain to take them to New Orleans, Dabny and Emmit find themselves face to face with the devastation. They see the bodies floating in the water and the beauty of a magnificent city turn into a watery nightmare. They also find out that getting to the meeting point where Emmit has a cousin named Flash that will help them is getting difficult since they keep running into people that are pleading for them to let them onto their small boat to get to the convention center. One of the people they help is Sarah who they find sitting on the rooftop where we saw her last.

Meanwhile, Emmit’s cousin, Flash, has been waiting in the convention center where he is a witness to an already overcrowded space where the dead are haphazardly piled in the corner and where no real aid has arrived. Those trying to find a way into another city are being turned away by law enforcement officers threatening people with shotguns. Worst yet, people resort to looting for goods but end up being mistreated by Dark Rain’s security officers who would like nothing more than to shoot anybody.

Suddenly, Dabny finds a real reason to go through with the bank robbery with Emmit since he has come to know Sarah and Emmit is determined to put the money to good use to help the city he loves. Of course, this means they must go through Driggs and his men who are willing to kill for the treasures in the vault.

Smartly written with the right touch of dark humor and honesty, Mat Johnson entertains and informs. His look into Katrina and the failure of the government to act is unflinching and true. The emotions he convey feel real and will not fail break your heart as well. Then there is Simon Gane who brings this story to life with his visuals that are delightfully impressive.

Mat Johnson and Simon Gane have created a profound and engrossing story that’s not just about two men looking for their second chance but actually about a city in its moment of great distress. Together these two brilliantly capture an unforgettable moment in time while weaving a tale too good to pass up. Bravo, gentlemen, Dark Rain is nothing short of a literary achievement.

COMIC REVOLUTION RATING BREAKDOWN

STORY: A+
Dabny and Emmit are two ex-convicts who decide to go into a Katrina devastated New Orleans to take the contents of a corrupt bank. However, the pair discover that this is easier said than done as they not only have a sadistic private security Colonel and his men to go up against but also stranded people they come across.

ART: A+
Simon Gane is one of those artists whose talent is obvious from the very minute you take a glance at a single page. It’s also original and stands out beautifully but – more importantly – he says a lot in a single panel.

OVERALL: A+
Dark Rain: A New Orleans Story is a deep, moving and utterly brilliant graphic novel that you will not be able to put down until the very last page. Johnson and Gane have put together a story that is not only captivating but an honest portrayal of a hauntingly tragic moment in our history. Consider this one of the best graphic novels available this year.

Review copy provided by Vertigo (DC Comics)

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Reviewer: Emma Coverdale

Publisher: WildStorm (DC Comics)
Writer: Jon Hoeber
Artist: David Hahn
Story: Jon Hoeber, Erich Hoeber
Genre: Comic Book
MSRP: $3.99
Release Date: Available Now

Is it possible for two professional covert operatives from two opposing factions to find true love in the Cold War-era world? This is a question that comes up in the Victoria special of Red that recounts a moment in her career when she was forced to decide whether her duty as a government assassin for her country is more important than matters of the heart.

As a four-part series that gives readers some background history of Red’s four talented operatives, Victoria – naturally – recounts an incident that occurred in 1982 during the height of the Cold War. Carrying out a mission in Argentina during the Falkland Island conflict for the British side, Victoria is an assassin who is not only a master sniper but also a skilled fighter. She shows us just how good she is as she infiltrates a heavily guarded hotel where an Argentinean General is calling the shots. Victoria doesn’t even break a sweat taking out the target.

Returning to her boss who is waiting patiently in a car, she is told that her next assignment will take her to Virgin Gorda in the British Virgin Islands where the mission is to relax. A serious gal, Victoria makes it loud and clear that the towels in the resort better not be scratchy, which makes her boss laughably nervous.

It is on the relaxing vacation that Victoria eyes a hunky beefcake named Ivan who approaches her later in the evening and ends up having a fabulous romance with him during their stay in the resort. It’s funny to see a woman who – only a few days ago was shooting soldiers in the eye and cutting throats – enjoying a picnic, walks on the beach and romantic dinners.

Then Victoria returns to the dreariness of work back in London only to be called into the office of his boss. She shows him photographs of her and her lover in the beach resort. As it turns out, Ivan is KGB and her boss thinks that maybe he’s playing her. In order to make sure, Victoria meets up with Ivan who thinks she is the one playing him. Could it be that neither one of them knew about their careers? Could their meeting have been some strange coincidence?

Well, the meeting doesn’t go as Victoria has planned and the two want to continue seeing each another but the higher ups in Victoria’s secret agent life will not allow for this romance to go on. It becomes clear that Victoria’s only alternative is to kill the man she has fallen in love with or suffer the consequences by her own agency. Thinking about Ivan even makes her miss a shot during another mission.

I will say no more because the decision she makes is a big surprise and says a lot about Victoria. Jon Hoeber has penned a nice little story that makes me wish her story isn’t a one-shot deal but rather a series of her own. If that wasn’t enough, David Hahn is the artist and if you don’t know his work you will definitely be a fan by the end of this issue.

The Victoria Special of Red is nothing short of fun and brilliant and you will enjoy every second of this story of love between two opposing spy network agents. Sure, Victoria is a great assassin but even great assassins have feeling but her feelings for a KGB agent might very well get her or somebody else killed. It’s a good story worth reading.

COMIC REVOLUTION RATING BREAKDOWN

STORY: A
Working for the British MI6, Victoria is ruthless and professional but during a short holiday in a beachside resort, she finds love with a man who turns out to be in the same line of work but for the enemy. Now, Victoria must decide if loyalty to her country is more important than her feelings.

ART: A+
Having been a fan of David Hahn since way before the Bite Club series, I knew exactly what to expect in this issue. Needless to say, he still managed to impress me again.

OVERALL: A
Victoria is a stone-cold killer and a professional operative you do not want to cross as we can see from Red: Victoria but there’s also another side to her that makes this story an intriguing look at love and espionage. While the story is short, you’ll find yourself completely absorbed by this tale of love on the secret battlefield of the Cold War. Definitely pick this one up.

Review copy provided by WildStorm (DC Comics)

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