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Review Group Week 283 - Red Wing #1

Written by Niam Suggitt on Wednesday, July 27 2011 and posted in Reviews

Space-ships and dinosaurs should make for an irresistable combination. So how come the RG is immune to Red Wing's charms? Huh? How come Mr Hickman? If that is your real name!


The Review Group is a collection of posters who get together and review a new comic each week. Our threads can be found in The Outhouse's News Stand forum and is open for anyone and everyone to participate.

This week, it's The Hicklash IV: A New Hope. Which is appropriate, because this issue is a bit of a Star Wars homage. Hickman is always polarising, so this week's RG is FUCKING EXPLOSIVE.


Hickman is one of the stronger long-form storytellers out there today, who really excels in the "Wheels Within Wheels" type of storytelling. However, with The Red Wing being a miniseries, it should be interesting to see what Hickman does with a story with an epic feel to it in the first issue.

The Red Wing is about a war in time. Although we don't know the reasons, the enemies or the objective of the wars, we do know that it allegedly claimed the life of the protagonist, Dominic's father. Dominic's father was a Red Wing pilot, who's only shown purpose is to get shot down by alien spacecraft. Dominic, pulling a Hal Jordan, decides to follow in his father's footsteps and become a pilot too. Throughout the issue, we learn of Dominic's father's fate and see one of the risks of having a dogfight in time.

The strongest part of the book is Nick Pitarra's pencils. I think it's safe to say that one of the big two (probably Marvel) will scoop this guy up in the upcoming months as he's the real deal. Also, Hickman's usual meta-sciencey gooblygook is gotten out of the way early and actually relates to the plot in a direct way that doesn't require a recap issue at the end of the second volume to fill in the blanks.

Overall, The Red Wing is a solid read and shows why Jonathan Hickman is considered to be one of the best in the business today. If you enjoy comics, get this book.


Eli Katz

RED WING #1 is another silly book by Hickman. It is more coherent and straightforward than typical Hickman work, but it features some of his trademark flaws as a storyteller.

First, the story and dialogue are overloaded with mumbo-jumbo sci-fi talk. I know that Hickman loves to throw around portentous sounding, but ultimately meaningless phrases. But after all the mumbo-jumbo in SHIELD, it would great if he tried to write characters who say normal things for once. Second, the book is filled with epic space wasters that are meant to make the story seem BIGGER and BETTER than it actually is. That double-page spread of aphorisms about time and paradoxes is just ridiculous. Didn't he do something similar in ULTIMATE THOR, if I remember correctly? Anyway, I would prefer more plot, better characterization, and much less white space. Finally, for all the overwrought dialogue and epic flourishes, Hickman tells what appears to be a fairly routine time-travel story. A time traveler lands in the wrong era. Yeah, I've never seen that before.

The art by Nick Pitarra is adequate but unremarkable, and too often the backgrounds in his panels lack detail. He also relies too much on color to fill the page and does not add enough shadows to give his illustrations a three-dimensional feel. Admittedly, the depiction of the ancient Mayan settlement at the end of the book is very good, but otherwise Pitarra's work is lacking. The art, like the story itself, feels empty.

I suppose Hickman fans will praise this issue and miniseries. That's fine. But if you are not a fan, and you haven't enjoyed his work so far, this series certainly won't change your mind about him.


ART: 4



wow, Eli is totally right. This comic really is just very boring and meandering and then of course the real moment of the comic is when the student ask about survival of a pod then you see someone survive a crash probably the main characters son....yeah this comic looks very paint by numbers and I can't imagine it getting any better.



The thing I always feel the most when finishing a Hickman book is that he is not writing for himself like all writers should. He's not writing for long time fans of the comic book genre. He just seems to write for the purpose of making himself look like he's something he's not... good. There's a vanity in his writing that always echos hollow, reminding me of that one kid in school who everyone knew was kind of sad when he would go out of his way to try and show everyone how smart and cool he was.

This book is full of that feeling with the usual garbage that he spews. The art is okay and nothing I would complain about. It actually saves this book from becoming a 2.

Story: 1

Art: 5

My Score: 3

Fieldy Snuts

When I got this book I went in blind, avoided the synopsis in the solicits and didn't even know it was a Hickman book till I picked it up. With a title like "The Red Wing" and that helmet on the cover I figured it was a space pilot-centric book.

Got it part right, it's a time travel book featuring a pilot. The main setting of the story is the 23rd story where time travel is now an established science that has caused humanity to start another war...this time where time is the battlefield. It's an intriguing concept and the way Hickman's storytelling approaches it in a very sci-fi way with out-there fictional science bases. Not much happens this issue save for one of the main characters becoming stranded in time.

Now much else happens other than a few pretty action sequences, but there's definitely a lot of potential here. Hickman's laid out a setting for this story, introduced some characters and explained the state of this world every basically...but in terms of story progression from the first to last pages there hasn't really been none. It's more a debut fueled by ideas rather than the story as of now. So I guess it remains to be seen if Hickman can tap into this potential of crazy idea's like he's done with Secret Warriors, FF and S.H.I.E.L.D.

I am interested in picking up this in trade based on this issue due to my faith in Hickman's ability as a writer.

Art is like Quitely minus the fuzzy oatmeal effect that's getting increasingly prevalent in his work. It's not as dynamic as Quitely stuff is at times but there's definite similarities and Pitarra is a competent enough artist to carry the story.

Story: 7.0

Art: 6.5

Overall: 7.0


Time travelling fighter pilots. I'm surprised this hasn't been a movie. Hickman takes this simple idea and spins it out into a story which, from this first issue, looks to be as much about losing a father as it does losing a war. The notion of changing the past to win the future is something comics do fairly often (Geoff Johns is currently butchering this particular horse in Flashpoint) and missing fathers is something Hickman seems to be doing fairly often (Red Mass for Mars, Fantastic Four, SHIELD) so the themes aren't going to blow anyone away here. No, like Pax Romana and Transhuman the telling is what makes the story and I always enjoy Hickman's habit of sketching in details rather than thrusting them into your face. The lack of a strong narrative voice is something that can put people off (Especially when the story is as non-linear as at lot of Hickman's work can be) but it appeals to me and that's who I read comics for.

Art be good. Panel layouts be strong and storytelling clear. Style have echo of Quitely, mix with Hickman usual tricks.

A good first issue, hopefully it will follow Hickman's strong creator-owned pedigree without the delays that really hurt Red Mass for Mars.



I was lucky to get a copy of this - my LCS randomly put it aside for me

I was very intrigued by the story of the young recruits, and their father's exploits. I assume we will learn much more about the fathers in coming issues. Hickman's writing was good, but not top notch for a first issue of a new series.

The art was solid (though not my type), but very good storytelling technique.

I'm on the fence about picking up future issues, so that taints my grade a bit.



This seems like a movie-ready concept now. I don't get the complaints that this was hard to follow, at all. I liked the concept. Wars being fought in time, spaceships flying with dinosaurs, that's cool stuff, combined with the human element of the missing father. The execution did not blow me away however. I put this mostly on the design elements. I think the future and time traveling ships should be depicted a lot cooler and futureistic The style is Quitely-lite, and I love Quitely, but I'd much prefer the original thing. Not the worst comic I read in my shipment, but not the best either. I think I'll check out the trade

Score 6


Red Wing #1 may place ideas over characters, but the ideas are pretty damn good. The idea of a war being waged through time is a cool one. Not only can enemies be destroyed through physical confrontation, but also through cultural manipulation. Some might label it Jonathan Hickman's script as "out there" or "pretentious, but I see it as fresh and bold. Nick Pitarra's art, with the help of Rachel Rosenberg, is easy on the eyes, While some feel that his art is reminiscent of Frank Quitely, it reminds me of Moebius' work. There's one amazing page where a Red Wing pilot gets obliterated after a fatal crash. The progression from each stage of the pilot until his demise is something to behold. I'm on for the rest of the mini-series.

8* out of 10*


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'


False Prophet

I'll have to admit that Hickman is turning a personal fav of mine. I like the abstruse, byzantine, and sometimes irreverent nature of his storytelling. I love his ideas even if at times they remain formless on the page.

And I love time-travel stories.

Red Wing is far from a perfect book. It's old-school sci-fi storytelling, a 50s B-movie given a shiny veneer. But for me, it works. The rules are simple and laid out on the pages: Time is not linear...there is no paradox. The ideas presented are nice, but even I can't give it a pass on the characters. There's nothing there (yet) as far as an intimate connection. By the end I'm sure this will be a grande, sweeping, weird time-crossed father-son tale with the backdrop of temporal war. But for now the two ends of the characters' emotional link are as far away as the years between them. We're not even sure what's being fought yet and why.

The art definitely has a Quitely quality, but nowhere near the storytelling dynamicism. It fails to capture the scope of what Hickman's trying to tell, and at times fluctuates between stylized detail and cartoony. Not bad art, but very uneven.

Story: 6.5

Art: 6



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.

The Verdict:

Story: 4.5

Art: 7

Accessibility: 8

Final Judgment: 5.5

Asmodeus Jones

I had the same take on this several other people did--although it may set up conditions for an interesting time travel story hopefully over the next 3 issues, nothing about issue #1 serves to distinguish it from scads of other similar time travel tales and the main characters still feel underdeveloped if not downright bland and stiff by the end of it.

WTF on the lost fathers theme? Someone needs to ask Hickman what the deal is.

It's not as engaging a first issue as I would have hoped it would be, but there's unlimited room for the story to grow.


So there! The final word on Red Wing #1, nothing more need be said!

What's that? A score? Oh..., um... it got a 6.03, I suppose I should have mentioned that. Oh yeah, and you can read the godforsaken thread on the forum. Next week is Daredevil #1, we can say what we want, he won't be able to read it, the blind idiot. 

Written or Contributed by: Niam Suggitt

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About the Author - Niam Suggitt

Niam Suggitt, Punchy to his friends, is the most humblest of all the Outhouse writers.  His easy going manner and ability to see and recognize the point of views of those who he disagrees with has made him one of the most sought after members of our community to resolve conflicts.  Although he likes all of you, and considers everyone to be his friend, Punchy would prefer you use “Niam Suggitt” when quoting him for the front cover blurb on your book.  Follow this wonder of a man at @NiamSuggitt, if you want to, he’s cool with you either way.


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