In Review: Red Agent #4

The art was a minor letdown, but the story continues to be strong in this penultimate issue.

The covers: Six different covers to chase down and add to your collection. The first cover, the A, is by Ian Richardson and Sanju Nivangune  and it’s an explosive action sequence, with the two heroines showing absolute joy in confronting evil. Britney and Avril are blasting and shooting the army of Alpha clones that are trying to slice and dice them. The Alphas look better than the heroes, who look awkwardly posed. The coloring makes each element of the art stand out. The B is by Caio Cacau and it’s got a definite James Bond flavor as it’s an outline of Avril holding two pistols. Within her form are flames and she’s standing against a stark black background. It enhances the spy aspects of the book and it’s impossible not to hear Shirley Bassey singing while looking at this. Sabine Rich’s C cover is the one to hunt down. This has Britney on her knees, her sword casually held in her right hand behind her head, while her left holds a powerful machine gun. Her costume has got an amazing reflective shine on it, the background is a swirl of flames, and the look on her face is smoldering. Wow! I’m glad I was able to get this cover at my local comic book store! The D is by Mike Krome and Grostieta and it’s unique for showing the villain’s perspective on the cover. Alpha is shown from the back, standing before several oversized glass cylinders, each filled with a clone of himself at different levels of development. Evidently someone is trying to make an army of the evil assassin. Terrific layout and eerie blue coloring make this a good cover. There’s also a ROC Retailer Incentive cover by Sabine Rich and a Cosplay Exclusive, limited to 350 copies, by Elias Chatzoudis. I couldn’t find an example of either online, so good luck tracking this pair down! Overall grades: A C+, B A-, C A+, and D B+

The story: At Highborn Initiative Headquarters, Ditto is showing his allies where he believes Eve is being held. He says she’s being held in Tillamook, possibly in an abandoned military bunker from the 1940s. Ditto reluctantly agrees to go with Avril and Britney to rescue the young girl. At Circle Headquarters, several of Alpha’s clones begin to struggle within their glass cylinders. A scientist yells, “Stop her! She’s killing them!” Alpha races over to the restrained girl to yank her connections out, but is stopped by a male scientist who tells him if he does so all the clones will die. Working quickly, the man is able to re-establish a firewall between her and the clones, but Alpha is not happy. Six of the clones seem to have been affected by the girl’s attack and someone ends up paying for the youth’s attack, and that occurs on Page 6. Lou Iovino, working from a story created by him, Joe Brusha, and Ralph Tedesco, has a lot of espionage and action in this issue starting with the heroes’ dramatic entrance into Oregon. I was wondering if Ditto could contribute anything to this mission and within two pages the young man more than proved his worth in accompanying Britney and Avril. The witch also proves her worth when her two companions end up in a situation where they could fall to their deaths. As this heroic trio makes their way through the woods, another story line begins on Page 11 and takes a surprising turn. This character brings a very unique perspective to this book and will obviously end up being key to the inevitable fight that will occur with Alpha. Lots of action and a very interesting new character. Overall grade: A

The art: I was disappointed to see that Diego Galindo was not illustrating this issue. I have become a huge fan of his work and his visuals were a key component to my purchasing this book. Taking over the artwork chores is Vincenzo Acunzo. His visuals are good, but don’t have the punch that Galindo’s did. The opening panel on the first pages shows this, as there is a lot of wasted space, with the focus not on the trio and what they’re looking at. Britney looks to be in early twenties in this issue, while Avril looks just as old — I picture her being under twenty, so to see her like this took some getting used to. But fear not, reader, both women are still just as attractive. The full page splash on Page 3 is too far from the characters to have the intended impact, and, again, there is a lot of wasted space; it’s set up very realistically, but some fudging of reality is permitted in a comic book. Alpha remains an incredibly threatening character and his scenes with Eve are well done. The adventures the women and Ditto have in the forest are done well, with the vertical panels at the bottom of 13 excellent, imitating the path of the heroes. Also impressively illustrated is the magic that Avril employs. The new character is okay, but comes off very weak on the penultimate page of the book: he should be the focus of every panel, but he’s often pushed aside or cropped to place the focus on the heroes — case in point, the rear ends of the ladies don’t need to appear in the fourth panel. Acunzo’s art is acceptable. Overall grade: B

The colors: The contributions by Grostieta on this book are excellent. Take a look at the excellent way the green hologram is done on the opening page. There’s also some nice light work done on the officially who’s joined the trio to chart their next move. Britney stands out on every page with her shiny red outfit, and Avril’s hair and blue jeans also make her a scene stealer. The full paged splash on 3 is just too dark, though. It’s colored realistically, but some fudging would have fine so that the reader would have an easier time looking at all the weapons. The use of blues in the book are strong; from oceans to eyes, they look great. The violets given to Avril’s abilities also make them stand out strongly and given them a strong air of the supernatural. Grostieta does a fine job. Overall grade: A

The letters: Scene settings, dialogue, sounds, screams, yells, and the teaser for the final issue are created by Fabio Amelia. The sounds are really good this issue, making the heroes’ journey through the woods exciting. Additionally, the bold teaser for next issue has the absolutely classic comic book font. Overall grade: A 

The final line: The art was a minor letdown, but the story continues to be strong in this penultimate issue. Action, magic, spies, clones, and cyberpunk thrills. Overall grade: A-

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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