In Review: Red Agent: The Human Order #5

A new character joins the heroines, all trying to avoid Alpha and his henchmen.

The covers: Riverio and Grostieta are responsible for the A cover. Britney has a pistol out, pointed at the reader, while in her other hand she has her sword which rests on her shoulder. Behind the protagonist is Big Ben against a clear London evening. The image is good, with the point of view tilted slightly so that Britney is looking down at the reader. The colors are also really strong; the light on Britney’s costume is especially strong. It’s hard to read her face though: is she angry, shocked, or happy at having to fire her gun? The B is by Robert Atkins and Wes Hartman. New character Silk is caught in time as he makes a turn, a pistol in each of his hands. He looks sensational in every way, with the folds in his jacket and the chain at his waist demonstrating his motion. The colors are also sharp, with the faded Union Jack behind him making him pop. Paul Green does the C cover and it’s the image I chose to accompany this review. Britney and Avril are back to back, acknowledging each other, but ready for action: Brittney has a sword in each hand, while Avril has a big knife in one and a huge rifle in the other. Green does sensational work and this is no exception. The D cover could have been much better. Illustrated by Ian Richardson and colored by Ceci de la Cruz, Silk is holding tiny versions of Avril and Britney in his hands before the reader. The layout is fine, but he’s been computer distorted to make him appear distant and the women have heavy shading done on their faces and hair to give them depth. de la Cruz is a very capable colorist, so I’m assuming that she tried to complete the artwork. This would have looked much better without the computer tweaking and everything in focus. Overall grades: A B+, B A, C A+, and D C

The story: Silk, a teleporter, is trying to avoid being captured by Alpha and his men. The chase leads to the Tube where Silk escapes, but not in the way he’d intended. Back in Washington, D.C. Avril, Britney, and Thessaly White are paying respects to General Tate in Arlington National Cemetery. Britney says that Ditto and Eve deserved to buried there as well, but White says they have to keep their group’s profile low. The new director shows Walters her cellphone that has on its screen, “I’m here. Rebuilding soon.” This shows that Ditto is alive, though his android body is destroyed. White says there’s no way for them to rebuild the android for the man’s consciousness. When asked why the armed escort to the grave site, White responds, “We’re on heightened alert. Alpha hit the Highborn Initiative Base in London a few hours ago.” She goes on to recount what happened there and that only Silk escaped. This provides a good point for Joe Brusha and Lou Iovino, with Iovino writing the issue, to go back to Silk, who learns what happened to his leader, Alindra. After this, a character returns, in a fashion, and Avril and Britney find Silk, but not before a misunderstanding leads to some violence. Alpha enters the mix and some teamwork allows the heroes to escape. The book ends with the villains revealing what they’ve working toward. This is a straightforward middle installment of this saga, with a new character introduced, some fighting, and the new character joining the heroes. It’s entertaining, but familiar territory for a super hero book. Overall grade: B

The art: Renato Rei and Eduardo Garcia are listed as the artists, but there’s no notation for which pages they illustrated. Editor Jessica Rossana, help a reader out! The first seventeen pages look to be illustrated by one artist and the final five by someone else. Both look fine, but there is a noticeable difference in the art. The first two pages have excellent sense of motion as Silk is chased on the streets and into the Tube. The flashback pages showing what happened to the London base are very well done and could have been a comic book unto itself very easily. These pages have very vivid art. Pages 10 and 11 put the artist in a difficult position as they are set within a moving car. It’s not being pursued, and features quite a bit of dialogue, so the panels have to show the characters sitting in the vehicle. The artist does a good job moving the point of view around to make these pages visual interesting. The fight scene that starts on 12 is really well done, with the layout on 14 making the fight seem very fast, thanks to the small, equal sized panels. The background is not good. This is because the periodicals have been added in by a computer and the same covers are repeated too often. They are all obviously Zenescope books, but no shop would have the same book in five different places on the shelves. Yes, it’s a nitpick, but a glaring one to a reader of comics books that’s reading a comic book. A different artist takes over on 18. These visuals remind me of Ernie Colon’s work. I’m a huge fan of this artist’s work, so I enjoyed these visuals. The fight is well done. I like the look of all the characters and the action depicted is slick, especially with Silk’s abilities. Overall grade: A-

The colors: Unlike the pair of artists, there are three colorists on this book, which again receive no notation in the credits. Hedwin Zaldivar, Grostieta, and Jorge Cortes do a good job for whichever pages they’ve done. The first three pages have wonderfully bright colors, though the pages are set at night. This should be a guide for other colorists to show that bright colors don’t have to be negated because of the hour. The two flashback pages use many oranges to show the destruction that’s occurring and they stand out strongly. Alpha has a really cool orange-red glow from the emblem on his chest that constantly resonates with energy and menace. I still am impressed that violet is used to show Avril’s magical abilities, as it’s not used in any other book by any publisher to show magic. The colors for the setting on 12 – 17 are really dark. They work, but they’re dark. When a slight change in the setting is made on 18, the colors get much brighter. They, too, work, but it’s a rather stark difference. Overall grade: B-

The letters: Taylor Esposito of Ghost Glyph Studios creates scene settings, yells, sounds, Alpha’s speech, story’s title, book’s credits, Ditto’s texts and speech, computer text, a broken character’s final words, signage, and the tease for next issue. Esposito has an extremely clean text, in any style, but his yells are particularly impressive because they increase in size and change in style the more heartfelt the outburst. I was impressed to see that two different fonts are employed for Ditto and computer text; he could have used the same font, but by differing them the reader knows when they are reading the character or the machine’s writing. I’ve never seen Esposito bring anything but his A game, but there is a sign on 11 in the final panel that is blury. So much so, it caused me to stop and wonder if it was me or the book. It was the book. This is the only mar on another well done job. Overall grade: A

The final line: A new character joins the heroines, all trying to avoid Alpha and his henchmen. This installment moves the story along well, but doesn’t really tread any new ground. The art is good, but it’s obvious when a new artist takes over, as well as a new colorist. Fine entertainment, but inconsistent. Overall grade: B

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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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