"Red City #1" Comic Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by Image Comics
Written by Daniel Corey
Illustrated by Mark Dos Santos
2014, 32 Pages, $2.99
Comic released on June 11th, 2014
What is it about private eyes that makes their lives so difficult? The cases always start out simple and get incredibly complicated and deadly. The pay is garbage. I guess if the mysteries were easy it wouldn't be much of a story, huh? Cal Talmage isn't your typical private eye. He's worked for the police force but he's not a good man. He's been caught up in some rackets and he's given one last chance before he gets shipped out to the front lines of war. The case seems easy. He has to locate and protect an ambassador's daughter in his home town. Oh, I forgot to mention. He's from Mars. That's how Red City starts up. It's a noir tale set in outer space.
Red City takes place in the future (duh). Just how far into the future is unknown, but the solar system has been tied together under one government with each planet (even Pluto!) represented as a state. We learn all this because Talmage has an ongoing internal monologue explaining it all. Who he's speaking to is unclear...unless it's me. Is it me? Is he talking to me this whole time? I guess that would make sense. Anyway, there is a variety of different alien races and they don't all get along. Talmage's mission will help in a truce between Mercury and Venus. Failure could mean continued conflict between the two planets. No pressure.
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Author Daniel Corey has created a massive world with a lot of back story in Red City. There's a whole history behind everything and how humanity got to its place in the stars. Unfortunately, this means that some characters rattle things off like Bond villains. I'm interested to see how these planets were colonized and where the other races came from. Were they always on these planets and we just didn't know? Or is this an alternate timeline where we've been talking to Neptunians forever?
Once the exposition is out of the way, Talmage gets to work in Mars Central. This used to be his beat, so he's got a group of contacts that he's shaking down for information. Unfortunately, not all of them are happy to see him. The bulk of the issue is spent following leads and having conversations with all kinds of seedy folk. He shows his detective chops in these scenes, wheeling and dealing for details on the whereabouts of his missing person.
Talmage is the kind of confident a-hole you'd expect from a private eye. One of the first scenes has him in prison, arguing with his cellmate. It's clear that he's much more intelligent than the guy who stuck his tongue in a high-density field, and he knows it. Talmage talks down to the other guy before getting called in to get his assignment, where he makes sarcastic and wise-ass comments to the man who holds his fate in his hands. Talmage walks a fine line in which readers can love him but the other characters can hate him.
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This issue is like a blueprint for the overall universe of Red City, and artist Mark Dos Santos brings the whole thing to life. The locations bear some similarities to classic sci-fi films and TV shows, but Dos Santos makes them his own. There's a gorgeous two-page spread showing Talmage first stepping foot in Mars Central. The city looks like a cross between Times Square and Hollywood, but in the future. Some areas look just like their present day counterparts but with slight futuristic elements added in. For example, a strip club features hologram dancers.
All the alien races look pretty cool too, with no two looking the same. There are lizard people, amphibian races, and even a walrus man. Red City is the kind of comic that you want to take your time reading to take in all the little details.
Red City would be an interesting noir story even if it was set in the here and now. Throwing it in space adds a new level to the tale, but it gets bogged down a bit in the exposition with this first issue. With that out of the way, future issues should hit the ground running. Corey has developed a rich sci-fi mythology and placed a lovable smartass in the center.