Writers: Danny Bilson Paul DeMeo & Adam Brody
Artists: Jerry Ordway(p), Al Vey(i), Johhny Rench & Randy Mayor(c)
A satisfying end comes to those who would lie and threaten the world. Gifts are given. Choices are made. Red Menace mostly flew under the radar of comic book buyers, and that's a damn shame. This inventive, historical number by Bilson, DeMeo and Brody, Ordway, Vey, Rench and Mayor never failed to entertain.
In the final issue, the Eagle continues to leave behind potential accusations of patriotic stereotyping to become solidly his own character while sticking to the hero basics--saving lives, exposing the truth and battling the bad guys. Neophyte hero and super-powered adventurer the Falcon tries to follow in his example, and in this issue he proves himself to be more than a sidekick. The Eagle's daughter, Helen, shows that she's a feather from the nest, and she aids her father any way she can to help him see justice done.
Real life bastard Roy Cohn last issue gained a fantastic identity. Before he oozed into politics he was a super-armored felon. This issue the Red Menace reveals his true nature in dialogue:
"If it takes an act of god to knock out this son of a bitch...so be it."
Cohn's megalomania impelled him to foment more than the red scare. With his delusions of grandeur whispering sweet nothings in his ear, Cohn had the Eagle's former enemies collude in stealing a Russian nuke. He then had them plant the bomb in the sewers of Los Angeles. His goal is to turn Los Angels into atomic ash and blame the Soviet Union for the crime. It's a classic scapegoat scenario taken to the extreme. Will the Eagle and the Falcon be able to stop this wretched design? Buy the book and find out. I'm not going to tell you.
Jerry Ordway's historical detail while laudable takes a brief back step from the spotlight. Instead, Ordway's pacing and timing makes for the most noticeable visuals. He brings out an artistic theme to reflect the smoothness of the writing. He forges contrast between the understated action from our heroes and the histrionics from the villains as their neatly assembled puzzle gets scattered to the ground.
The script for the most part adds gravity to the tense situation, yet the presence of heroes, as they should, mitigate the dread. Dark humor bubbles from the fates of the all ranks of villainy, and the Eagle's certainty in his mission generates a calm undercurrent throughout. Whether manhandled by enemies, some the beneficiaries of Project Paperclip, or racing against time to stop Los Angeles from blowing sky high, the Eagle never doubts himself, and the readers in turn never doubt him.
When I first bought Red Menace, I expected nothing special. I had after all read numerous pastiches and satires, but this creative team crafted an intriguing story that had a well researched historical backdrop with fully developed characters, both real, imagined and mixed. In short Red Menace gave me more than I bargained for. If you missed the series, seek out the back issues or get the trade paperback.
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