An advance review of the upcoming Image series written by Robert Kirkman and Nick Spencer!
Credits & Solicit Info:
Thief of Thieves #1 (MR)
Story by: Robert Kirkman & Nick Spencer
Art By: Shawn Martinbrough
Conrad Paulson lives a secret double life as master thief Redmond. There is nothing he can't steal, nothing he can't have... except for the life he left behind. Now, with a grown son he hardly knows, and an ex-wife he never stopped loving, Conrad must try to piece together what's left of his life, before the FBI finally catch up to him... but it appears they are the least of his worries.
Thief of Thieves #1 by Kirkman & Spencer and Martinborough.
There's nothing in this issue that advertises it more than the names of its creators. (Just knowing who wrote it changes the tone of the ending considerably.) In fact, if I'd read just this first issue and not the solicitation for it I might not have been back for #2, but I trust both of the writers involved to craft a good ongoing story.
The disconnect between the first issue and the solicitation opens the door to what may become a larger issue in the future, namely how to handle a longer-form ongoing story while still publishing it in serialized chunks. Every episode won't necessarily have all things it might need; I think a solicitation that clues you into the larger story is a good idea. It's especially true for a first issue, where you might not quite get to the real point of your story.
Thief of Thieves is the story of a thief who no longer wants to be a thief (according to the solicitation.) This idea isn't really explicit in the first issue, although the last page reveal certainly can be seen to point that way. What we do get in this issue is an opening heist with a nice feint, a somewhat long flashback that shows how two of the principal characters met (and how to steal a car for profit) and a brief set-up of what appears to be the central conflict of the book (which is more-or-less cribbed straight from the Hackman/DeVito movie Heist), including that last page reveal. (Plus a Who's the Boss joke that really falls flat. What, you forgot about Cheers? Moonlighting was too obvious?)
This is a solid first issue, but I'm on the fence as to whether or not a heist story can work in this format. Heist stories primarily depend on tight timing and good character interaction, both things that creators have less control over in a comics format. While you can have good dialogue in comics, the voices and character idioms are really created inside the reader's head. Panel to panel timing is also largely left to the reader; while there are many tricks and layouts that can alter timing on the page it's still left to the reader to interpret. Here it works okay, but there isn't a whole lot of thief-style action in this issue.
Other than that the art is good, laid out with a fairly strict adherence to a four-panel page-wide grid. This makes it seem a bit static, but does give the story flow a certain inevitable forward motion. The two main characters we spend the most time with are clearly defined and the story-telling is solid. I'm not sure, however, that it has the chops to carry off the timing tricks that may be required later in the story.
Review by: BD Montgomery, Outhouse Contributor