Trouble in Red City: A look at Red City #1

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red-cityWhat can be bad about a comic featuring a smart talking hero taking on the Martian mob? Writer Daniel Corey combines good old fashioned organized crime with the science fiction of the distant future in Red City #1. The first issue deals mostly with the set up of the world and main character, and given that the backdrop is the entire solar system, there is a lot to explore. In this particular distant future, all of the planets in our solar system have been colonized and their peoples live under one central government, the ‘New Solar System’ or NSS. Due to the cultural differences of the many alien species that have settled each of the planets, tensions are high and peace is tenuous. Mercury is undergoing a deep economic depression and prepares to lift an embargo on their former enemies, the Venusians, as a desperate attempt to keep afloat.

Enter the main character, Cal, a former federal security officer who has been assigned (granted it was that or jail) to go retrieve the errant daughter of Mercury’s ambassador before she jeopardizes negotiations between Mercury and Venus. As Cal makes his way through Mars City looking for the girl, he encounters your typical seedy characters and locales. As you might expect, things don’t go exactly to plan, and Cal finds himself in a sticky situation before he even finds his target. Coincidentally, did you know that even in the distant future mobsters wear suits and fedoras?

The series has a definite ‘film noir’ feel to it, with a muted color palate and character to audience narration. Cal has all the typical characteristics of the ‘hard boiled protagonist from the mean streets’, but spoke with a good amount of snark and sarcasm that made me laugh. His narrative shows his defiant personality, but also shows just how sharp he is. Classic musical references that make me giggle are always a plus, too.

“And if you don’t there will be trouble in Mars City.”

“You mean trouble with a capital….” (Cal gets cut off).

That being said, it is definitely not a comic for kids, based on the language alone, not to mention those seedy locales. (Anybody have some singles?)

The art was done by Mark Dos Santos and the coloring by Chris Fenoglio, and you can definitely see the cohesive theme they were going for. The color palette chosen and art style definitely portray the gritty dark setting of the plot, however, it’s a fine line to walk between ‘muted on purpose’ and ‘flat.’ I do wish the background images had more variety and shading. Although I get what they were going for, the overall effect did leave the images looking a little boring. I also found the panel composition to be a bit repetitive. Most seem to be set zoomed out from the characters with a similar object,usually a planet, in the background. I would have liked more variety in the depths and angles as well as background images. In general I found the art and color to be a little underwhelming.

All in all I greatly enjoyed this comic, even with my issues with the art. Corey does a great job at capturing the genre. Although I have not read this author before, I am a fan of organized crime (in fiction, of course) and I found the plot and main character to be in keeping with the feel of a Mafioso universe. Red City is familiar enough that you will never doubt what genre you are in, but has a unique enough plot to hold your interest. I recommend this series to anyone who likes noir, crime dramas or mob films and literature. A love of cool looking aliens can’t hurt, either. I eagerly await the next issue to see what happens next.

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