Good or evil? Life or death? Radiant Red has to make a choice, but even she isn’t sure on which side she’s going to land. Your Major Spoilers review of Radiant Red #5 from Image Comics awaits!
RADIANT RED #5
Writer: Cherish Chen
Artist: David Lafuente
Colorist: Miquel Muerto
Letterer: Diego Sanches
Editor: Michael Busuttil
Publisher: Image Comics
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: July 27, 2022
Previously in Radiant Red: With the job done, it’s time to get out-but as the plan crumbles around her and her worlds collide, Satomi will be forced to make a final impossible choice: Her old life? Or her new one?
A CHOICE WITH NO RIGHT ANSWERS
Last issue ended with Radiant Red being betrayed by frenemy Shift and delivered to the criminals who want her to work for them. She awakens ready to kill, but is stopped by the presence of cameras, all broadcasting to a remote location. With her secret identity compromised, Radiant Red is given a simple ultimatum: Work for Margo, letting her husband take the fall or watch him and EVERYONE she loves die. Satomi’s choice seems to be simple, as she agrees to become Margo’s personal safecracker, with Shift taking Owen away to the police. Margo and Satomi deliver the “product” (a deadly poison called Mercury-S) to the buyers, only to have them declare that the delivery is a few grams short… and that Radiant Red shook all their hands when she entered. Having murdered a roomful of people, Satomi then heads home, where she finds Shift…
IS SATOMI GOOD OR IS SHE EVIL?
The ending of this issue surprised me in a couple of clever ways, but the journey getting there was a bit rougher than the previous issues. Lafuente’s art is as expressive as ever, but the layouts aren’t always the easiest to follow, and if you didn’t read last issue, you probably won’t understand the bit twist. There’s a complete lack of explanation of why her armor has turned white or how the poison works in these pages, and the transition from drug warehouse to Satomi’s house to the final location in the comic are very difficult to follow. I do appreciate the complexity of Satomi’s existential decisions, though, and that the answer to “Are you good or are you evil?” isn’t as clear-cut as in most comics. That same ambiguity is the greatest weakness of the book (and to some degree, the entire Supermassive universe), though, as it requires a lot of work on the reader’s part. When it comes to super-powered drama, the question of hero vs. villain is usually explicitly part of the themes of the story, which makes the end of this issue feel more nebulous than it might have.
BOTTOM LINE: NOT EXACTLY AN ENDING
Radiant Red #5 ends with a promise that Red will return (but it might be difficult, given where she ends the issue) and a general feeling that this isn’t really the end of the story but the end of a chapter, but strong manga-influenced art and complex writing overcome most of the bumps in the narrative road, earning 3.5 out of 5 stars overall. It feels like the creators were working to undermine the expectations and tropes of the miniseries, which I respect and appreciate, but it ends up making for more work for the readers AND for the characters.
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RADIANT RED #5
Satomi realizes that there are no good answers to her dilemma, but the frustrating bits don't overwhelm some charming art.