“Red City” #1 kicks off Image’s latest series, a Tech Noir tale that delves into the criminal underworld on the Mars of the future as well as the political intrigues surrounding the solar system at large. While not as dark or compelling as the best entries into the genre it presents promise that could be fulfilled in the issues to come.
ART BY: Mark Dos Santos
RELEASE: June 11, 2014
Review By: Ooknabah
The classic noir tropes are all in place: Cynical narration from our protagonist, dirty cop-turned Security Officer Cal Talmage, a femme fatale in the mysterious woman known only as Angel and a varied cast of shady characters populating writer Daniel Cory’s vision of Mars. His world is established firmly in this debut issue, although principally through huge chunks of expository dialog and narration. While staples of the noir genre, these asides occasionally feel forced, as Cal seems aware that he is speaking to an audience in 2014, one that requires detailed explanations to the minutiae of the universe.
Thankfully, as the story moves forward, the pace picks up and the dialog gains a liveliness borne of a writer clearly having fun playing with his genres. It’s nothing that science fiction or noir fans haven’t seen before, but it is well done and will get even better as Cory becomes more familiar with his characters’ voices. As it stands, a lot of ground is covered in this first issue, laying out several threads to be picked up, including an in medias res opening that, while typical, does the job of adding action to an otherwise mostly talking heads filled story and setting up the stakes for what is to come.
Mark Dos Santos’ art does the necessary job of creating the future Mars and its inhabitants, and while his cartoonish style lends some character to the many conversations that fill the 24 pages, it’s not until the climax of the issue with some evocative use of shadows that it rises above mediocrity. This isn’t helped by the drab palette employed by colorist Chris Fenoglio, which feels washed over in a grey that does little to evoke any mood or energy. The premise might provoke the look and style of classics like Blade Runner, instead the visuals are muted, with little other than aliens here and there to making it distinguishable from another genre.
The individual elements are far from knocking the comic out of the park, they do create a whole that is more than the sum of its parts. Freed from the confines of an introductory chapter, I’m interested in seeing where the story will go and to see the creative team find their collective stride. Tech noir fans are not awash in modern offerings, so this books is well worth checking out. Let’s all hope its worth continuing to do so.
Ooknabah AKA Brent Hirose is a writer, actor and gigantic nerd from Vancouver B.C. You can listen to his podcast about that at HugeNerds.Podomatic.Com or check out his many other projects at BrentHirose.com