In Review: Red One #2

This book would make any Soviet weep at its beauty. Highest possible recommendation.

The cover: The title character looks happy to be sporting some new weapons that stand as symbols of Mother Russia. The pencils and colors are by Terry Dodson and the inks are by Rachel Dodson. Fantastic, strong cover. This would be perfect as a poster, print, or tee shirt. Overall grade: A+

The story: Vera is getting the rest of her weapons from her contact in the United States. She’s especially impressed by the hammer and sickle she gets. Back at Lew’s, where she lives as a housekeeper under the alias Alabama Jones, the old man tells her he doesn’t want to go to the party that a producer is throwing, but she’s keen to attend. As she makes him breakfast, he loses his appetite after watching the news report on the “Carpenter’s Disciples”, a neo-fascist movement sparked to strike down liberal values through violent means. Dropping him off for work, she finds a sex shop under attack by the ultra-conservatives and makes quick mincemeat of them. There’s a lot of action in this installment from Xavier Dorison, but there’s also some solid character development as Lew does something either very smart or very stupid and Vera learns a thing or two about shopping, and she get to go to her first big Hollywood party. Naturally something goes wrong, but there’s a unexpected complication on Page 21 that has Vera making a hard choice. The final five pages have a great action sequence with some surprising results. I was taken by every page of this story. Overall grade: A+

The art: I cannot overstate how fantastic this book looks. This is amazing artwork by penciller Terry Dodson and inker Rachel Dodson. Vera is stunning in every panel, whether in her Alabama Jones persona or decked out as hero Red One. She’s a knockout at the party, wearing nothing too spectacular, until the story has her clothes undergo a transformation. Just as spectacular are the many, many antagonists she tussles with. All of these baddies are wearing the trademark overalls of their idol the Carpenter, but there is no repetition in any of these assailants; they all have their own unique, believable look. When the Carpenter appears he is frightening looking character, who doesn’t seem like he could hold his own against this Soviet superhero, but he does more than one would think, with his final appearance inducing a good sense of shivers. The action is stellar, with a variety of fighting styles employed and settings being used to show how the Red One is moving about the city. The backgrounds are also spectacular. I never thought I would sing the praises of a bathroom or apartment building, but the Dodsons make both locations impressive. I can’t think of a book that wouldn’t kill to have this pair illustrate it. Overall grade: A+

The colors: Terry Dodson colors this book and it is just as impressive as his penciling. I love how panels without backgrounds are given a fantastic wash effect, as evidenced in the fourth and final panels on the introductory page. The first four panels at the bottom of Page 2 slickly use colors to establish details in the apartment without them being drawn. This effect is recreated on Page 5 inside the sex shop, where windows are inserted with color. Inside the apartment building there is a tremendous use of colors to show shadows, and I laughed at the subtle trail of smoke that followed one foe as he was thrown out of a building. Dodson is obviously a double threat in creating comics. Overall grade: A+

The letters: Dialogue, sounds, a television broadcast and walkie talkie transmissions (same font), and some strong yells are crafted by Clayton Cowles. I’m still not thrilled that some of the lettering is so tiny, since Dodson has some really small panels, but it’s such a nothing nit, I can’t fault Cowles. Overall grade: A+

The final line: This book would make any Soviet weep at its beauty. The story is sensational and the artwork awe inspiring. My face went red with joy over every page. Highest possible recommendation. Overall grade: A+

Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer’s Guide for several years with “It’s Bound to Happen!” and he’s reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He’s taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.

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