The Red Wing #1(of 4) - 'Learning To Fly' - Hickman, Pitarra and Rosenberg
Story - Time-Travel may make no sense whatsoever and most of the ideas about causality and paradoxes fall apart when under the slightest scrutiny, but nevertheless, it's one of my favourite genres of science fiction stories. I love it all, Back To The Future, Doctor Who, Booster Gold, LOST Season 5, anything with Time-Travel in it? I'm down for it. So when it was announced that Jonathan 'Hicklash' Hickman would be writing a Time-Travel war story, I was pretty darn excited.
But now that it's here, I'm conflicted, I liked some of it, I liked it on a surface level, but it also felt empty, hollow and a bit of a nothing story (I realise those pretty much mean the same thing, but whatever, rule of threes!).
What I liked was the visual element of the story, a lot of this is down to the art of Nick Pitarra (of whom more of later), but also the design of the spaceships (or timeships) and the spacestation (or timestation) that our two heroes visit. It was all very Star Wars and Battlestar Galactica, at least visually. The TAC ship is probably the best looking spaceship since the Viper Mark II in the new BSG, it just looks cool. That and the idea of a war throughout time is just fucking genius.
But after that, it all falls apart. There's the usual Hickman science-speak (although I did like how one character just went 'blah blah blah' instead, I'm pretty sure you could replace every line in SHIELD with blah blah blah and the series would be the same) which at this point you either love or hate, and I'm more towards the hatred side. Then there's the totally vanilla characters, I can't even remember their names, do they even have names? Hickman seems to be unable to write interesting new characters anymore, Leonid from SHIELD is literally the worst, and these two guys are nothings, they are shells. Hickman hangs some rudimentary 'missing daddy' stuff on them, but whatever, who cares.
We also have no idea what the whole 'Time-War' is about, who are these people fighting? Other people? Aliens? Maybe this will be answered in later issues, but for now it's pointless, for all we know our heroes could be the bad guys.
This is a comic that is fairly typical of Hickman, it that its all surface with little underneath. Yes, the image of space fighters flying alongside Pterodactyls is exhilarating and great, but beyond the purely visual... there's not much here. I like a Time-Travel story, but I need more than just the concept, I need to care.
Art - A lot of people are saying that Pitarra's art reminded them of Frank Quitely, and I'm just not seeing it. I think Pitarra has a style of his own, and it works really well for this comic. He's required to draw a lot of stuff, in the far future and the distant past, and make them all look unified and part of a consistent universe, and he does so brilliantly. I also liked some of his more experimental layouts, the page with the infuriatingly pretentious 'this is how we lost the 21st century' caption was brilliantly drawn. Even if this comic is mostly empty, at least Pitarra is there to give it some depth.
Best Line - 'Blah blah blah'