In Review: Red Agent #5

A good ending, though several plot threads are left dangling.

The covers: The summer convention season is in full play, so there are ten — that’s right, ten — covers to track down. Diego Galindo and Grostieta do a slick cover of a smoking gun on top of a red file marked CONFIDENTIAL for the A cover. There are several shells and some blood in this illustration. Outstanding spy themed cover. The B is several outstanding images of the key players of this series. Caio Cacau has, going from left to right, clockwise, a tattered Alpha swinging a machete-like blade, Avril in black posing with a gun, Ditto walking down a city street, a huge image of a smug Britney who’s posed James Bond style with a gun, and Eve frying a bad guy’s brains. Great images combined so well each character doesn’t step on the other. Great coloring, too. Next up is the C by Deacon Black. This is the “Good Girl” cover featuring a very sexy Avril brandishing a gun in one hand and a blue spell in the other. She looks great and the setting around her also tops. The coloring on this is also good with smart reflections of light from her tight outfit. Naturally I had to use this image with this review. Douglas Sirois does the D cover with Britney and Avril standing on a mountain side, Brit with a sword and Av with a gun, and before them is Alpha carrying similar weapons in each of his hands. The mountain looks good, as does the orange clouds behind them, but the characters’ faces just aren’t good. Everything looks good but the ladies’ faces. There’s a pair of Mega Con Exclusives featuring art by Mike DeBalfo with colors Ula Mos. The first edition is limited to 500 copies and the second to 250 copies. However, I couldn’t find images of either online. There’s a VIP Exclusive limited to 100 by the same pair, but, sadly again, I was unable to find an image. There’s a Wizard World Philadelphia Exclusive limited to 250 copies by Elias Chatzoudis. This I was able to find. It shows whom I’m assuming to be Britney from the back. She’s wearing an orange hockey long sleeved shirt and white panties with Philly written on them. She’s holding a hockey stick so that it raises her derriere. It’s a pretty image. There’s also a VIP Exclusive limited to 100 by the same artist, but, alas, I couldn’t find that. The last Variant, the 3 Rivers Comicon Exclusive by Elias Chatzoudis I did find and it features whom I’m guessing is again Britney. She’s got a long sleeved crop top on that says Pittsburgh and she’s also sporting matching short shorts. She has on two red hockey mitts and cradles a hockey stick over her shoulders. Again, very pretty and worth tracking down. Overall grades: A A, B A-, C A+, D C-, Wizard World A+, and 3 Rivers A+

The story: This final issue from Lou Iovino, working from a story that Joe Brusha, Ralph Tedesco, and he created, starts just where the previous issue left off: Avril, Britney, and Ditto confronting the clone that just emerged from the secret Circle base. The trio is shocked that he refers to Eve as his mother and are doubly shocked when he reveals that others like him, soldiers, are being made. Avril doesn’t trust this clone, who calls himself Ryder. As she and Britney talk, Ryder feels time is running out so he begins to run off, sparking Avril to use her magical abilities to stop him. As he regains consciousness, Britney gets Avril to go trust her because she knows they need Ryder. Meanwhile, down in the secret underground headquarters, the senator thanks Eve for her knowledge that will allow the Circle to bring the Highborn down. As this is occurring, Alpha is releasing his clones. Both sides are in place and the action begins once the heroes enter the bunker. There’s a lot of action as one would expect in this finale, though not all the heroes survive. The passing of one character was sad; I was hoping to see more of that individual in other Zenescope books, but it was not to be. However there does seem to be a way to bring this person back from beyond the grave. The final confrontation with Alpha is very good and its conclusion nice, and he constitutes the final page. I wouldn’t want this to end any other way. Overall grade: A 

The art: Vincenzo Acunzo does a serviceable job on this issue. The slow pull in to Ryder on the first page is a great way to show his importance to the story, and for a character whose mouth isn’t shown, Acunzo makes him entirely sympathetic with his soulful eyes. The female leads don’t fare as well; their profiles don’t seem to match them when shown in three quarters view or from the front. Case in point, look at the first panel on Page 3. Now look at the second panel: their noses and chins aren’t as pronounced. This happens constantly with the women. Comparing any panel to the previous or next panel of the same character shows this; heck, the last page featuring Britney has her face going through three different shapes. Acunzo does move this point of view around well and this does take some of the focus away from these characters. As with last issue, though, there is a bit of wasted space: the third panel on Page 4 and the final panel on 5. Both panels look as though they were set up to contain more dialogue than there is. When the heroes encounter all the clones (and that’s not a spoiler because everyone knows those troops are being set up as targets) there’s a well done panel showing the women taking them down. The killing of one of the leads is startling — graphic, to be sure, but much more shocking. The last page is an excellent cinematic epilogue. Overall grade: B-

The colors: The work by Grostieta is strong on this book. The exterior scenes are set at night, but a fairly bright green is used to have the characters stick out on the page, yet the evening is always apparent — this is the sign of a good colorist. The green gas that emerges when a clone is born is a slick way to make their emergence ghastly. Plus, their glowing red eyes, which mirror Alpha’s, make them seem demonic. Grostieta is stacking the deck to make these characters completely unsympathetic. When Avril uses her magic it’s a gorgeous violet that seems beautiful and dangerous. The explosive page, you’ll know it when you see it, is a strong piece with the excellent mixing of oranges and reds. Just a solid job on every page. Overall grade: A

The letters: Dialogue, yells, sounds, and scene settings are done by Fabio Amelia. The dialogue is easy to read, the scene settings have an exciting look to them, making the transitions dramatic, and the sounds do explode off the page, especially in the end. Overall grade: A

The final line: A good ending, though several plot threads are left dangling. I wish the visuals had been as strong as when this series began, but this is a satisfying conclusion. I hope these characters return soon. Overall grade: A-

To order this book or others featuring these characters go to http://shop.zenescope.com

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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