In Review: Red Agent: The Human Order #7

Nothing really contributes to the series' arc, but it is gorgeous to look at.

The covers: Six covers to find for this seventh issue. The A cover is by Sheldon Goh and Sanju Nivangune and is the frontpiece I chose to accompany this review. Walking away from a cavern full of lava, Britney has an automatic pistol in her left hand and her sword in her right. She’s incredibly thin in this image and some more weight would have been fine. The coloring is on point, creating a delightfully fiery feel for the setting. One of the creatures from this issue that the heroes will fight can be found on the B by Allan Otero and Grostieta. It’s a humanoid figure surrounded by lava and smoke. The illustration is fine, but the coloring has me thinking I’m looking at DC’s The Demon. I really like the beautiful greens that can be seen peeking out between the smoke. The C is a terrific image by Tina Valentino and Ceci de la Cruz of magic user Avril Williams. She, too, is standing in the lava, but her magic is swirling about her, protecting her from become human toast. Gorgeous image and superior coloring. The final regular cover, the D, has Avril leaping into action from the back of a plane. Created by Joe Luis and Jesse Heagy, the character looks as though she’s giving a yell as she’s plunging into an active volcano. I’m assuming this is Avril, since the character is wearing black, not red. I like this. The first exclusive cover is the MegaCon Exclusive (limited to 350 copies) by Ale Garza and Sanju Nivangune. Sadly, I couldn’t find an image of this online. There’s also a Phoenix Comic Con Exclusive (limited to 350/250/100 copies) by Mike DeBalfo and Hedwin Zaldivar. I saw pencil sketches of this online, but they weren’t the final images, so I can’t review this cover either. Overall grades: A A-, B B-, C A+, and D A-

The story: Thessaly White, the Director of the Highborn Initiative, arrives home to find Alpha waiting for her in a chair. He has a file for her on a highborn named Cinder. He’s used his abilities to steal fissionable materials from a silo. It’s believed that “he intends to use the stolen material to trigger a massive volcanic eruption in Iceland.” Alpha and his masters want White, who is secretly one of their underlings, to get Britney and her team to take care of Cinder; if she stops Cinder, great, and if not, her meddling will be stopped. White doesn’t think it’s wise to “throw away a valuable resource” like Britney, causing Alpha to knock her to ground. “You’re not supposed to think, Director White! Just do as you’re told!” This is the beginning to “Fire and Ice,” conceived by Joe Brusha and Lou Iovino, with Iovino writing the issue. The story then moves to a cavern with Cinder in front of pool of lava. He slices his wrist open to use his abilities to create a gigantic figure made of lava. The creature proclaims, “Command me!” Cinder leads him to a chamber where one of the creature’s brothers stands, guarding the nuclear material that the human has stolen. The heroes are then the focus, directed by Ditto to where Ember is located. A huge battle breaks out with Britney, Avril, and Silk fighting the lava creatures. Everyone gets some good action sequences, with Silk really showing he’s got the stuff to be teamed with the women. Though the action is good, when all is said and done, this comes off as just a generic action story. It’s fun, but doesn’t add anything to the long running plot of highborns under attack. This is somewhat rectified by the final page, which does follow up on this, but I would have preferred to see the entire story go in this direction. Overall grade: B

The art: Eduardo Garcia does a really strong job on this book. The first three pages has Garcia moving the point of view around very well, considering that the story focuses on two characters talking with each other in a room. When Alpha gets physical with White, he makes the villain seem extremely tall by having him crouched down to look at his victim. He also has the character slightly protruding from the top of the panel, making it seem as if the panel isn’t big enough to contain him. This is a neat visual. However, the director’s room is wholly empty, save a table and desk. I can’t believe that anyone, even this character, only has these two items of furniture in a room that large. Any scenes involving the lava are terrific. The heat definitely radiates from these pools and the creatures are terrific. Their first appearance on 4 and 5 is outstanding. I also like the design of Ember, who has subtle nods to his abilities in his look. Britney, Avril, and Silk also are outstanding. Every page has them looking terrific. Britney and Avril’s appearances strongly remind me of Ernie Colon’s work on Amethyst. Page 13 has a full paged splash that features a great action sequence, with all three heroes on the defensive. I really like the point of view on this, and am impressed with how well the characters look from that angle. All three characters are equally involved with dispatching the villain and it was cool to see. Magic use in comics can be a tricky thing to pull off, but Garcia does a top notch job with Avril and Silk. In fact, this is the first time that I’ve really respected what Silk can do. Garcia produces some good work for this issue. Overall grade: A

The colors: Also doing some good work on this book are Hedwin Zaldivar and Maxflan Araujo. Given the dour realism of comics today, it’s always a joy to see a book that’s brightly colored. This book certainly is and it looks awesome. There’s no notation in the credits as to which pages each colorist is responsible for, but they all look great. The colors used on the reflective floor in White’s residence gives her an authoritarian feel, as well as one who keeps everything spick and span. The work on the lava, and there’s a considerable amount, is really impressive. Yellows and oranges are used fantastically, with the colorists even giving characters the appropriate tint from the fiery masses. Using two different colors for Avril and Silk’s abilities is an excellent visual clue to the reader as to who is doing what during the battle. I must also point out the excellent work with blues and whites for the exterior scenes for Iceland, which produce an appropriate freezing tone. Overall grade: A+

The letters: Scene settings, dialogue, whispers, Alpha speech, the story’s title, the book’s credits, lava creatures’ speech, Ditto’s dialogue, sounds, yells, and the tease for next issue are created by Taylor Esposito of Ghost Glyph Studios. Page 15 shows Esposito’s skills on display, with dialogue, creature speak, several sounds, and an excellent scream from a character. The variety of fonts that he employs makes the visuals of the book more enjoyable and they’re a perfect match for what they should achieve. For example, the font that the monsters use look as though how they would sound, while the scream that ends the page shows an intensity that such an utterance should have. If Esposito is on a book, I know the lettering will be good. Overall grade: A+

The final line: Nothing really contributes to the series’ arc, but it is gorgeous to look at. A good entry point for new readers. 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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