The Red Wing #1
If being an “active” fan of comic books has opened my eyes to anything, it’s the fact that my tastes in comics have changed from my childhood. While still being a fan of Big 2 characters, the all-important reality that most of their higher-profile characters are beholden onto a “Corporately Mandated Status-Quo” is something that I’ve hard time adjusting to, due to how it affects the stories being told. The biggest impact of this sometimes painful adjustment is that it has helped me to open my eyes to stories, characters and concepts that I would’ve never appreciated as a teenager. It is through this new perspective that Jonathan Hickman’s “The Red Wing” became a work of great interest, and only the question of whether this book can deliver on its promise remained. Sadly, the first impression didn’t hook me as I thought it would.
It goes without saying that the special thing that makes “The Red Wing” stand out amongst the crowd is the fact that the story takes place in the confines of an Army-Scale War across time, making use of a very common element in an extremely uncommon way. It especially hits home when you wrap your head around the fact that the only way to truly win a war is to manipulate the losing side into realizing that the culture that led to the conflict was the wrong path to follow, which could easily lead into some of the best mind games ever seen. With such potential, it’s hard to anticipate where this could go wrong and even harder when you realize where it does go wrong.
Despite the high concept there, there are two aspects where I feel the writing falters with characterization being the first area. Daddy Issues (especially with Pilots) have become far too cliché lately and it’s the reason why the main character seems far too trite. If Hickman was going to go this route, then he would’ve been better going with blank slates, because blank slates have a better chance of being developed into refreshing characters in a story like this. That being said, that issue would be a lot more forgivable if it spent more time talking about the more nuanced points it introduced in its introductory pages. Had The Red Wing #1 done so, it would’ve been more than enough to make me (and others) forgive the shortcomings in characterization to see if they would be corrected in future issues. Instead, it just feels like Hickman was trying his hardest to make sure this comic didn’t get the “hipster” label in order to increase sales.
If you tasked me to describe the art in one word, said word would easily be conflicted. Without a shadow of a doubt, there are brilliant moments sprinkled all around this comic as the battle scenes really do give the reader the feeling of watching a fast, frantically dramatic battle unfold. The single spread on Page 7 is a great use of imagery and the ending 2 page spread is just well built up to, helping to ratchet up the suspense of the cliffhanger. Sadly those moments are put together with splashes of complete mediocrity as the character drawings and non-fighting backdrops usually give a feeling of complete disinterest from the artist and the characters themselves. It’s a damn shame that this didn’t get more polish.
My Final 22 Cents:
As a whole “The Red Wing” has the potential to be one of the best mini-series of the year. If written up to its high concept, the plot and story would put it right up there with “The New York Five”, “Cinderella: Fables are Forever” and “Mystery Men” as top contenders for this honor. As it stands right now, while it does have redeeming qualities, those same qualities aren’t enough to save this book. With shallow characterization, disinterested art and just a plain dumbed-down feeling, “The Red Wing #1” is a clumsy start to this whole affair.
Final Judgment: 5.5
Last edited by SilverPhoenix
on Sat Jul 23, 2011 1:16 pm, edited 3 times in total.