Current Reviews


Red Menace #4

Posted: Saturday, February 24, 2007
By: Ray Tate

Writer: Danny Bilson, Paul DeMeo, Adam Brody
Artists: Jerry Ordway(p), Al Vey(i), (c)
Publisher: Marvel

The appeal of Red Menace has been a smart fusion between the super-hero genre and a particularly unsavory period of American history. In addition Jerry Ordway's experience with All-Star Squadron comes to the fore in his depiction of period design and fashion. This issue of Red Menace is peculiar in that it's one of the most straightforward exemplars of super-heroics. Does this lack of period flavor hurt the book? I say no.

The super-powered wannabe partner to the Eagle discovers an alleged peace treaty fete being held by warring mobster factions led by Mickey Katz and Joe Drago. The Eagle has been forced into heavily surveilled exile due to historical sphincter Senator Joseph McCarthy and his band of happy idiots the HUAC. The Falcon goes to the Eagle with a tip about the dinner. The Eagle tries to discourage the Falcon from pursuing the leads and calls the cops, but in his heart he knows the Falcon will fly.

As expected the Falcon crashes the party and doesn't do too shabbily, indicating promise for the hero. The Falcon however is outnumbered, and despite having magnetic based powers, the Falcon's feathers look about to be singed. This looks like a job for the Eagle.

Apart from a rather ghoulish demise and historical figures lurking in the subplot, the heroics seen in Red Menace should be available in any super-hero comic. They won't be, but they should be. The reasons why these particular heroics work can be attributed to the raw excellence of the writers and that they allowed the reader to live with Eagle and experience his trials, so to speak. We understand why the Eagle smiles when he turns himself in to an enemy. That's the point of continuity. Continuity is more than a mere fact-checking exercise. Continuity enriches the characters for the reader. The reader observes what the hero has gone through, and she comprehends the hero's feelings and philosophy for any given situation.

Even had you not given Red Menace a try, there's always Ordway's and Vey's artwork to provide detailed eye candy. Not from the painted muscle man school of super-hero art, Ordway and Vey add visual attractiveness by showing costumes that aren't skin-tight and let the man or boy behind the masks be seen. Brass flies as .45 cannons fire. Cloth wrinkles as do the faces when a gamut of emotions radiates through the panels. The pacing never falters in scenes of action, suspense, or shadowy intrigue oozing from the deadly doings in Washington D.C.

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