February 15, 2012

Image Reviews: Thief of Thieves #1

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Title: Thief of Thieves
Author: Robert Kirkman/Nick Spencer
Artist: Shawn Martinbrough
Publisher: Image Comics

Redmond doing what he does best.

Redmond doing what he does best.

Meet Redmond, a classic, suave, and wonderfully affable high-end thief who is revered by the end of the story as a best-in-show, ecclesiastic sort, and from all appearances wants out of the best racket in the business: robbery. Yes, the tale has been told before, but the difference is that Robert Kirkman (The Walking Dead), armed with a council of artistic support, can accomplish what other Image types have sometimes failed to do within the genre – holding the reader’s interest with durable characterization.

Image has always been blessed with a strong artistic following, but only recently (i.e. the past seven years or so) have they showed any real teeth with their writing chops (e.g. the Luna brothers, S. Steven Struble, Joshua Hale Fialkov, Rick Remender, Joe Keatinge, … all have or are now getting nods for their prolific output). This is a trend that never gets old, as quality never goes out of style.

Redmond gets the opportunity to show off his skill-set at the onset of the story, which cues a flashback to his recruiting days with that of soon-to-be apprentice Celia. The two have a chemistry which works well with the unfolding of the plot, builds to a predictable climax, yet manages to instill just the right amount of anticipation for a continued unfolding in the next issue. To say any more would spoil it, so we won’t. But the last splash page is stunning.

The storytelling is spot on, of course, coming from superstars Kirkman and Spencer, but the real joie de vivre lies with the layout and imagery of the illustrations. Leave it to Martinbrough who, through prior work on Batman and Luke Cage, is no stranger to the noir, pulp-style fiction that Thief of Thieves unabashedly serves as a vehicle for his unpretentious craftsmanship.

Although there were moments of predictability, these were offset by the style, approach, and delivery of the collective (Serrano, Wooton, and Grace serve as colorist, letterer, and editor respectively, which Kirkman calls out on USA Today as his equipartitioned brain trust). It’s the execution that matters here; like most pulp novels, this mag has a strong dynamic that is supported by enough intrigue to forgive any of the other blemishes.


Review copy provided by the publisher.



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