In Review: Red Agent: The Human Order #4

If you want action, you want Red Agent.

The covers: Seven different covers for you to seek out and “order” into your collection. Yeah, I pushed it on that intro. The A cover is by Sheldon Goh and Sanju Nivangune which has an excellent illustration of Britney holding a sword with one hand, standing in a pile of debris that’s still smoking, with an American flag behind her standing tall. She looks great, the colors — especially the sun behind her — are strong, and it’s got a patriotic air. Nice. Next up is the B cover by Ediano Silva and Dinei Riberio. This cover has the most action for this installment, showing Alpha attacking Avril, who conjures a shield to protect her from the undying antagonist. The details on Alpha are really well done, with his face being a horrific mess and his cape splaying about excellently. Avril looks too old — isn’t she supposed to be in her early twenties? As a character, she looks fine, but as that specific character, she’s too grown up. Nice colors on this one, too, with the bloody red background sweet for Alpha and allowing Avril to stand out with full colors. Fritz Casas and Ceci de la Cruz have created the C cover and it’s the one I purchased. This has Avril and Brittney back-to-back, with flames behind them. Avril is sporting a monstrous rifle, while Britney has her sword sheathed on a shoulder with her pointing a pistol at the reader with the other hand. They look tough and the coloring is outstanding. The D is a very streamlined cover by Mike Mahle and it’s definitely one to track down. This has a full figured, very stylistically rendered Britney sporting her sword and looking at the reader. Behind her is a panicked group of men caught in a smokescreen to hide the leaping entrance of Red Agent. This is really cool and would be an outstanding poster or print. There are two Diamond Retailer Summit Exclusives (one limited to 350 copies and the other to 150) illustrated by Age Velez, but I couldn’t find an image of either one online. Good luck tracking those down! I was fortunate enough to find a copy of the Emerald City Comic Con Exclusive by Michael Dooney and Ula Mos. This has Britney out of her costume and wearing cutoff blue jeans, a sleeveless red plaid crop top, and hiking boots. She has a walking stick and is wearing a backpack that says “Red Robin Hood.” Her back is to the reader, but she’s turned her head to acknowledge him or her as she stands in a green valley looking upon a mountain. It’s a cute cover that would be welcome in anyone’s collection. Overall grades: A A, B B-, C A, D A, and Emerald City Comic Con Exclusive A+

The story: Britney wakes up in a hospital, not knowing where she is. A doctor tells her, “You suffered a concussion and lost a lot of blood. You need to slow down.” She wants to know what’s happened to her people and this is when the new director of the Highborn Initiative walks in, Thessaly White. She tells the hero that General Tate is dead. The story then flashes back to 48 hours earlier with Britney and Avril having a discussion about Ryder that ends with their base being attacked. Joe Brusha and Lou Iovino conceived this story, with Iovino writing the script. It’s non-stop action once the attack begins as the pair of heroes, joined by another, try to get out of the mountain before it comes crashing down on them. As if the ceiling falling isn’t enough for the trio to avoid, Alpha appears and goes one on one with Britney. The battle is good, with two other characters seemingly killed, and the way in which the heroes avoid death is a neat surprise and a testament to their work as a team. I expected the threesome to fly off in a plane or chopper, but that’s not an option. The final two pages show Alpha gearing up to battle the heroes again, but not before his superior is revealed, and it’s quite the shocker. This story moves at a breakneck pace, with plenty of character moments to keep this from being a one-dimensional story. A fun read. Overall grade: A

The art: Renato Rei and Ace Continuado are the artists for this issue and they do a great job. The opening three pages are set in a hospital and the reader’s point of view is moved around smoothly to keep the exposition visually entertaining. Page 3 nicely shows Britney feeling lost at meeting White and feeling the loss of Tate. Avril and Britney’s two page conversation is neat in the way that the younger woman gets the older to stick around and discuss how she feels about Ryder. The rocky interior of the mountain looks good, as does the exterior: the artists could have created it with a few lines to make its bumpy surface, but instead put a lot of impressive line work into it. There’s a nice tease of Britney’s abilities on Page 7 in the fifth panel that foreshadows things to come later in the book. The arrival of the third member of the team on 8 is excellent, with his lights seen vaguely in the steam. The damage that one character suffers on 11 is outstanding, being graphic but not gory. Pages 12 and 13 are the highlight of the book, with the protagonist and antagonist swinging at each other. Both characters look terrific and the damage inflicted on each great. The panel layout on 15 resembles that of a film, with the fallout on 16, again, outstanding. The last page of the book is full paged splash revealing who Alpha answers to and it had me thinking of Vader’s first scene with Palpatine in The Empire Strikes Back. The visuals on this book look really good. Overall grade: A

The colors: The colors of this book could have been very dark, given the primary setting is in a collapsing mountain, with debris and dust everywhere. I’m thankful that Hedwin Zaldivar, Grostieta, and Jorge Cortes instead cheated on reality and gave the book some bright coloring so that the reader could see every bit of the art. The interiors of the mountain are not a blanket shade of brown, but many different hues which gives the setting some nice depth. Britney’s red togs allow her to be the focus of every panel she’s in; a necessary trait, given she’s the title character. The character the heroes meet up with on Page 8 has a specific color for his dialogue, making him stand further apart from Britney and Avril. Alpha’s armor is really well done, given several different colors to emulate its reflective nature. The final page uses red exceedingly well, focusing the reader on the master to the exception of all other elements. Overall grade: A

The letters: Sounds, yells, dialogue, scene settings, the story’s title, the book’s credits, a character’s unique font that begins on 8, a weak plea, Alpha’s unique dialogue font, screams, and a beautiful tease for next issue are crafted by Ghost Glyph Studios’s own Taylor Esposito. The unique fonts given to two characters in this book is a visual element beyond the characters’ designs to separate them from humans. The sounds on this book, and there are several, make the action really ramped up. The tease for next issue is also very, very cool; creating an 80s feel, which is appropriate given the two words that comprise it. Esposito can do no wrong. Overall grade: A+

The final line: Action abounds in The Human Order. The story tears along at a good clip and the visuals are strong. If you want action, you want Red Agent. Recommended. Overall grade: A

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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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