Thursday, 5 April 2012

Books: The Red Wing


The Red Wing
Written by Jonathan Hickman
Art by Nick Pitarra

Available now from Islington Libraries
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I recently read Jonathan Hickman's S.H.I.E.L.D. and really really liked it. I like Hickman I thought - I want to read some more of his stuff. Then - while doing the Toy Library at a different branch (yep - that's right Toy Library) - I saw a whole stack of Hickman comics sitting on a reservation shelf (obviously someone had the same idea as me). The one sitting at the top was this one - The Red Wing. And the stark white cover and empty pilot's helmet (oooh - intriguing!) made me think: Ok - I'll start with that one.

First thing to know: no - this isn't as good as S.H.I.E.L.D. part of that is that because this is only 4 issues worth of comics - it all feels a little - hemmed in and (at the same time) a little bit too sparse. Like they couldn't really decide how much how story they wanted to tell and settled on a compromise that pleased no one - it's like a meal that doesn't do enough to fill you up or a snack that fills you up just a little too much. Also (and I realise that this may be unfair): but compared to the artist on S.H.I.E.L.D. (Dustin Weaver) Nick Pitarra stuff is a little bit lacking - best way I can think to describe it - is that there's a difference between a picture that makes you feel like you're looking at the thing itself and a picture that just seems like a rendering of something that it can't quite reach (to take an example that everyone should know: the art in Watchmen feels like that's what Watchmen is really like - they don't feel like drawings of Dr Manhattan and Rorschach and whatever: they feel like the reality (so much so that it's when confronted by the 'reality' in the movie version - it doesn't feel quite right) - yeah?): and I guess the goodness of comic book artwork is the degree to which it feels like the thing itself or (if the artist is a little sloppy) in whatever way: something that's just halfway there. Also (and this isn't the artist's fault): it recycles (or maybe Red Wing came first and S.H.I.E.L.D. was the one that did the recycling? But - whatever) the same kind of splash page reveal that S.H.I.E.L.D uses - and when I was already unfavourably comparing the two - that kind of stuff doesn't really help.

But yeah - all in all: Red Wing is ok. There's sci-fi stuff and space stuff and time travel stuff and at the start at least it does have a great feeling of potential. But by the time the book was done my feeling was mainly "what that it?" Not enough to make me dismiss Hickman altogether - but definitely a corrective to make me tone down my expectations of the next thing of his I get around to reading.

Links: Comic Book Resources ArticleStumptown Trade Review.

Further reading: The Manhattan ProjectsS.H.I.E.L.D., Seven Soldiers of Victory.

All comments welcome.

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