Red: Victoria (November 2010)

So the one screenwriter writes a great tie-in comic and the other (they’re brothers too) writes a crappy one? Did Wildstorm just put out whatever the filmmakers wanted?

This comic will make almost no sense to anyone who hasn’t seen the movie… and if the reader has seen the movie, he or she will wonder why they bothered. Actually, if you haven’t seen the movie, don’t read this comic book. It’s a huge spoiler. So if you want to see Red avoid this comic like the plague.

One of the big problems besides it spoiling a plot point in the movie is how bad Hoeber writes the British. Maybe it’s Hahn’s art–but cartoony art didn’t hurt Queen & Country (though it’s in color here, which probably does–no, I think it’s Hoeber. He doesn’t have a feel for it at all.

I’m trying to think of a positive comment, but… no.


Writer, Jon Hoeber; artist, David Hahn; colorist, Jonny Reach; letterer, Salda Temolonte; editor, Ben Abernathy; publisher, Wildstorm.

Red: Marvin (November 2010)

Here’s how you do a movie tie-in comic–well, first, it doesn’t hurt one of the screenwriters is writing it–but it has to do with something in the movie. It’s not just some tale from the past, it’s a very specific tale and one referenced in the movie. The comic also provides some further context for the relationships in the movie. It’s a great little addition.

But as a comic, not specifically a movie tie-in comic, it’s also very solid.

Hoeber has a beginning, middle and end to the comic, which is still fast paced–so fast there’s occasional confusion. It feels like a story, not just a gimmick.

It doesn’t hurt Olmos is really loose on the likenesses. There’s no attempt to make the characters look like John Malkovich and Bruce Willis. One’s crazy looking guy, the other’s bald.

By being a perfect movie tie-in, the comic becomes its own thing.


Writer, Erich Hoeber; artist, Diego Olmos; colorist, Marta Martinez; letterer, Wes Abbott; editor, Ben Abernathy; publisher, Wildstorm.

Red: Joe (November 2010)

So here’s a moderately all right comic book. These Red movie prequels are sort of silly, since it’s establishing a bunch of totally unnecessary backstory. This issue, Morgan Freeman–sorry, Joe–muses on the costs of being a CIA agent.

It’s mildly interesting musing because it’s set during the Cold War so there’s some decent spy stuff going on. The problem is the lack of full narrative brushstroke. It’s not a full story; it’s a partial story with an effective cold opening then basically an issue-long chase sequence.

Unfortunately, the chase sequence isn’t particularly interesting. Redondo isn’t a bad artist–he gives Freeman some youthful vigor while retaining the freckles (though the Brian Cox character looks nothing like young Brian Cox)–but he’s not much for composing action scenes.

Still, the issue suggests with Wagner writing it, Joe could fuel a much longer, better illustrated eighties espionage comic book.


Writer, Doug Wagner; penciller, Bruno Redondo; inkers Pol Gas and Redondo; colorist, Tony Aviña; letterer, Salda Temolonte; editor, Ben Abernathy; publisher, Wildstorm.

Red: Frank (November 2010)

I’m not sure if the Jason Masters art is supposed to look like Cully Hammer or if it’s just the cheap Wildstorm house style. Regardless, it looks a lot like the original Red, but with some really slick, shiny computer coloring. Of course, Masters makes sure the protagonist, Frank, looks like Bruce Willis and the Morgan Freeman character looks like Morgan Freeman. Resembles, more like, in the latter case.

The story itself is a really bland spy story. It’s occasionally gruesome, but it’s absent the humor from the movie (given the movie doesn’t follow the original comic close, it’s peculiar Wildstorm would put out movie continuity prequels). It kind of reads like a Wildstorm (bloated, glossy and garish) Queen & Country.

Masters does a weak job with various references–he uses a modern cellphone for a story taking place in 1994–but I imagine the movie likenesses were more important.



Writer, Gregory Noveck; artist, Jason Masters; colorist, Carrie Strachan; letterer, Wes Abbott; editor, Ben Abernathy; publisher, Wildstorm.

Red 3 (February 2004)

Seriously, someone read Red and wanted to option it for a movie? I just finished reading it and I want to burn the memory from my mind. Ellis gives the comic some big Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid ending like anyone cares. I’d forgotten how much I loathe this hipster comic books.

This issue has a lot more dialogue. It still generally takes place in about five minutes, but it’s a dialogue heavy five minutes. The protagonist gets to ramble on about real men and so on and so forth. The second issue reminded me a little of Rambo; this third one made me wish Ellis could write dialogue as well as a Rambo movie. He’s so self-indulgent and bad it boggles the mind.

It’s one of those comics one could easily laugh about but I cannot. I read the entire thing and so the joke is on me.


Writer, Warren Ellis; artist, Cully Hamner; colorist, David Self; letterer, John Costanza; editor, Ben Abernathy; publisher, Homage Comics.

Red 2 (October 2003)

Did Ellis really spend an entire issue on quickly killing four assassins and a couple conversations? Now I remember why I avoid most of Ellis’s work–his pacing is absolutely atrocious.

He has an idea here with Red–what if the CIA reactivated their best assassin and he came after them. But Ellis doesn’t have any more story following that idea. The first issue had a vague Bush looks like a chimp joke, but nothing else as far as a point.

Hammer’s art is getting really boring. The idea of cartoonish spies being really violent–it’s like Queen and Country in color and not good. The lengthy talking heads scene is just painful.

I’m trying to think if there’s anything I liked about the issue–I didn’t even like the end because it’s got a stupid cliffhanger. Red might be the perfect example of why three issue limited series are a really bad idea.


Writer, Warren Ellis; artist, Cully Hamner; colorist, David Self; letterer, John Costanza; editor, Ben Abernathy; publisher, Homage Comics.

Red 1 (September 2003)

I’m curious what Warren Ellis’s script for this issue looks like… it must be really short. Maybe he draws on the pages, thumbnails, sketches, something. Because he can’t be writing much on them. This issue has almost no dialogue after the first five or six pages.

So it’s all up to Cully Hammer and he does a decent job of it. He’s got to infuse the story with humor but also with horrific violence. He gets the humor part down, the horrific violence not so much. In fact, the action sequence closing the issue is a bit of a bore. The one or two panel emphases on protagonist killing someone–three in this issue’s present action–are supposed to mean something. There are similar flashback panels to show how the protagonist is devastated after being a CIA assassin. It doesn’t work.

But it’s nearly okay. Maybe if the exposition weren’t so forced.


Writer, Warren Ellis; artist, Cully Hamner; colorist, David Self; letterer, John Costanza; editors, John Layman and Ben Abernathy; publisher, Homage Comics.

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