Or – “An Advertising Success Story…”
For those of you who don’t follow monthly comics book solicitations, the books we see each week had to have been ordered by your retailer a full two months earlier, when Diamond Comics sends out their ‘Previews’ catalog in order to let the retailers (and the readers) see what’s on the horizon. A couple of months ago, this comic was on the cover of Previews, and based ENTIRELY on a single image, I decided that I wanted to read this comic book. Didn’t know what it was, didn’t know who wrote it, didn’t know who it was from, but the stark image of the broken helmet on a white background had me wondering what in the world this could be and making me want to know more.
Weeks later, it’s time to find out whether the content can live up to my personal mental hype….
Previously, on The Red Wing: “To stay alive in the future, the best fighter pilots in the world not only have to perfect their skills and master their aircraft, they also have to know how to travel through time…” The year is unknown, but with the advent of temporal travel, it’s kind of a moot point anyway. What you need to know is this:
Time is not linear.
There is no paradox.
“This Is How We Lost The 21st Century…”
I want to start by saying that both of the covers for this issue are phenomenal work, striking and simple, and very noticable, even among the sea of comic books you’ll encounter in the shop this week. The interior art is equally interesting, and immediately roped me in. Nick Pitarra is a new name in comics, but strong influences of Frank Quitely are evident, even as he maintains his own unique style. We begin with The Red Wing in action, flying a routine patrol, when they are ambushed and forced to jump through time. It’s a simple premise, reminiscent of things like ‘Top Gun’ and such, but Hickman immediately makes it clear that things are not as simple as they seem, and the inevitable battle ends with a surreal and effective scene where it becomes clear that the consequences of failure in this squadron are FAR worse than Maverick could ever conceive. It’s a rare thing for a comic to give me goosebumps, but this opening sequence did, fading to white in a sequence that is just AMAZING.
“Your Real Enemy Is Ignorance…”
The cinematic influences on both writing and art are evident throughout, but Hickman manages to work them into something that feels fresh and exciting throughout. We transition to sometime in the 23rd Century, as two young men have a spirited discussion of temporal physics and time travel theory. It could be boring, it could be a spiral of technobabble, but instead it becomes a nicely handled introduction of our point of view characters (cadet sons of the lost members of The Red Wing) as they arrive for their orientation and training to become the newest generation of pilots. The key for most first issues and introductions (for me, at least) is how well the necessary expositionary dialogue and details are handled. We get a lot of information in the last fifteen pages of this issue, but it never feels forced, and we’re even given the characters first and last names in a moment that makes perfect sense and feels natural. Dominic and Valin both lost their fathers (during the events told of the first half of the book) and while Valin accepts that the past is gone, Dominic wonders if their fathers might still be alive, somehow. Pitarra’s art reminds me a bit of Juan Jose Ryp’s in the second half of the book, and we end with the implication that Dominic might be right, as well as some pretty awesome ziggurats in the background.
The Verdict: Wow…
I am just flat out blown away by the first chapter of this book, as the writer and artist both put in a performance that uses familiar tools and tropes in new ways. The structure of this issue is a VERY strong first act, and the use of graphic elements (and the overall trade dress and logo design) sets it apart from the other books on the stands. It’s an exciting story, well-paced for both an individual issue and for the inevitable trade, and Jonathan Hickman makes even the most complicated dialogues about twisting the fabric of space-time both interesting and understandable, and the visual imagery is first-rate. The Red Wing #1 is a startling kickoff, using familiar elements in new ways and creating a really impressive whole, earning 5 out of 5 stars overall.
Faithful Spoilerite Question Of The Day: The Red Wing… Blue Estate… Green Wake… Is Image starting their own War of Light?