In Review: Red Skull #2

Good to read, sad to look at it.

The cover: The grotesque face of the title character looks upon the reader. Blood is dripping from his mouth and down his chest to drown Magneto who’s dressed in white. However, the blood glides off the mutant onto the ground where it creates a zigzag path where hands emerge from it, reaching for Max Eisenhardt. Super evil image from Riley Rossmo on this cover. The Skull is perfect, the blood gross, Magneto magnificent, and all the details with what the blood becomes excellent. When I was picking this up in my local comic book store, I saw two people stop while looking at all the new books and pick it up because of this engaging imagery. Overall grade: A 

The story: “Annihilation” by Joshua Williamson opens as last issue left off: Magneto being overwhelmed by zombies, though the Red Skull has arrived to assist him. The powerful mutant is surprised to see the Nazi, who responds, “For more years that I’d like to admit, I battled one of the greatest fighters ever produced of inferior western minds…Do you really thing I can’t hold my own against the hordes of the undead?!” As he says this he uses a sword to sever a zombie’s head. Battling the monsters, the Skull reveals that Magneto was the only one he deemed worthy of saving and hands him a mace to use on the zombies’ brittle bones. Spying Captain America’s shield on the ground, used by one of the villains killed last issue, the Red Skull takes it to sully “his cursed memory.” With the horde thinning, Magneto proclaims he’ll not fight with “a monster as disgusting as our attackers!” and is then smacked unconscious by the Red Skull, who says, “We’ll see…” A flashback then occurs as Rogue begs Magneto to save the world as a red orb begins to consume the Earth. This emotional moment awakens him, discovering himself to be tied up and dragged through the forest by the Skull. One thing that’s great about pairing these two villains together is that they so arrogant with their abilities and powers, and what they feel they deserve. Their dialogue is always antagonistic to the other, which creates some great moments (Pages 7, 8, 11, 13, 17, and 20). Why the Skull needs Magneto is very clear, and why Magneto needs the Skull is also crystal clear. The addition of another infamous Marvel villains sweetens the coolness pot in this story and the last page has me rubbing my hands in glee at the chaos that will occur next issue. Overall grade: A

The art: There are things to like in this book’s visuals, but there are several times where one would wish that Luca Pizzari put a little more detail into the book. For example, Pages 1 and 2 are a partial double-paged spread showing Magneto and the Skull fighting a horde of zombies in the jungle. Both characters look good, but only the zombies in the foreground have a lot of detail in them, while those that are farther from the action lose considerable detail. Direct you eyes to the upper left and right to see examples of this. Throughout the book, the two villains look terrific, even when just speaking to one another. However, the background often becomes a series of shapes (top of 5) or silhouettes (top of 6) rather than fully realized trees or flora. Backgrounds are also lacking at the setting the pair go to on 6; only two panels on 8 and 9 have backgrounds. When so many panels are missing the set, I expect to see other panels really stand out for the detail. An opportunity presents itself at the top of 13, but I couldn’t tell if this was a city, ruins, or the jungle — it’s so unclear. The character that appears on 14 is nice, but the coloring makes most of his (its?) form indecipherable. The layout of Page 16 is great, with panels four – six being really slick; it’s clever and cool. However, the double-paged spread on 18 and 19 is a mess. I know what’s going on due to what preceded it, but what I see is a lot of sloppy line work with a sound effect covering most of it. The book ends with an excellent image of the two leads, but I still felt cheated by the lack of details on some pages. Overall grade: C-

The colors: This is a very dreary colored book by Rainer Beredo. This is a deliberate choice to make the setting of the zombie wasteland dismal. Additional, in using rusts, browns, and grays for the setting the Skull’s reds and Magneto’s whites instantly draw the reader’s focus. This is obvious on Pages 1 and 2 because everything is colored brown, save Magneto (and the energy radiated from him), the Skull, and the ground. This is a good way to make the masses more of a mass, and an excellent way to hide the simple art in the colors. The roses on Page 4 are incredibly strong, making this moment much more intense. However, on Page 5 all goes brown save Magneto. The baddie that appears on 14 should have been much brighter, as he normally is, rather than the dull browns that had him melding with the background. I honestly felt like Beredo was covering Pizzari’s work intentionally. Things improve on the final page after someone undergoes a transformation, but it’s too little too late. I would have loved to see more realistic colors, than these stylistic ones. Overall grade: C-

The letters: Dialogue, sounds, and yells are created by VC’s Clayton Cowles. He does an adequate job but Pages 18 and 19 have a sound effect that is so big it hides the art. Straining to look at what’s underneath this sound, it’s easy to see that the double-paged panel is either empty or just sloppy in spots. As with Beredo, I think Cowles was intentionally covering poor art. Overall grade: C+

The final line: There’s not much action, but the dialogue is delicious. This issue is still setting the stage for the Skull’s triumphant reveal to Battleworld, and I want to see what happens. Sadly, the art and coloring drop this issue considerably from the story’s heights. Good to read, sad to look at it. Overall grade: C+

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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