Current Reviews


Red #1

Posted: Saturday, August 2, 2003
By: Cody Dolan

Writer: Warren Ellis
Artist: Cully Hamner (P/I)

Publisher: Homage Comics

Paul Moses is a retired CIA operative quietly living out his retirement. Unfortunately for Paul, the new Deputy Direct/Intelligence has decided that Paul must die for reasons as yet unknown to the reader. Paulís ďOperator StatusĒ has just changed from green to red.

How does Warren Ellis find the time to write so many books a month? Oh yeah, heís stopped writing fan-favorite Planetary, but I digress. It seems like every week heís got a new book coming out, and he seems to maintain the same high level of quality. Brian Bendis and Brian Vaughan both write a lot of books, too, but they stick with their core titles while Ellisís imagination and ability to pitch a new series seems to know no bounds.

This issue is all set up, but thereís enough left to the imagination to keep it from getting boring. We know Paul was a CIA operative, and we know he either knows something or did something that necessitates him dying. Weíre led to believe heís mellowed thanks to his conversation with his handler, and the rather sedentary life he leads. Other than that, we know Paul was good at what he did and is still hardened enough to kill in cold blood. Add those all up, and youíve got a protagonist worth reading about.

The centerpiece of the issue is the CIAís attempt on Paulís life, and Ellis doesnít get in his own way. He lets Hamnerís art tell the story as evidenced by the 11 pages with little or no dialogue. When Paul does talk, itís short, direct, and dangerous, letting the reader get a glimpse of the person Paul was before retirement. As Iíve said before, Ellis knows how to write hard cases (only I believed I used the word bastard), and itís not until late in the book that we realize Paul may turn out to be another in a long line of that type of character. Somehow Ellis doesnít let that trope get old but rather keeps it fresh by letting Paulís actions speak for him.

Hamnerís art was a big factor in my enjoyment of the book despite the fact that he draws way too many lines on Paulís face. His attention to detail is first-rate, from the Frank Lloyd Wright house Paul lives in to the detailed grips on the handguns. His work is uncluttered by sound effects, and that makes the extreme violence more effective as we the readers are invited to fill in our own.

Final Word:
Ho hum, another great comic from Warren Ellis. By now you should know what to expect from the author, and if youíve liked anything heís written in the past you should enjoy this book. If youíre going to read one of the two helpings of violence Warren Ellis treats his readers to this month, Red should be your pick.

What did you think of this book?
Have your say at the Line of Fire Forum!