Red City #2
Written by Daniel Corey
Art by Mark Dos Santos
Published by Image Comics
In the tradition of good film noir, this is a very confusing story to unravel. Even with the reference sheet detailing all of the characters and their various motivations, there are still a lot of alien species, political movements, and characters to keep track of in this sordid tale. This is not a comic for everybody, largely because of the amount of effort you have to expend watching each plot thread. That said, if you’re willing to invest the time keeping track of every name and all the different movements, this is a fun comic to read.
When last we saw Talmadge, he was standing in the room of the murdered Elderd Deamos. Of course, it’s obvious that Talmadge didn’t do it, as the body was stiff when it was found, but it does give Talmadge a chance to catch up with one of his old compatriots on the police force. After being released, the recently-elected mayor of Mars City first tries to bribe and then threaten Talmadge in staying away from the Mercurian girl, administering a good beating in the process. Talmadge calls in an old criminal friend of his, Angel, and after evading some thugs they head to the city convention center. A Neptunian spying for the Venusian group Kristiestis is gunned down and the ongoing peace talks are disrupted, but Talmadge gains a clue that leads him and Angel out of the city.
It’s a dense story all right, and I found myself flipping back and forth repeatedly just to keep sense of all of the various plot threads. At times, it’s easy to forget that Elderd Deamos was murdered, and only the fact that Talmadge mentions Talia Jalen helps the reader keep sight of the original reason for the investigation. To some, no doubt, this will be a turn off, but it is the nature of the genre. Talmadge meeting with an old buddy and getting the piss knocked out of him are all genre tropes, part of a process the detective has to undergo in order to find where the truth lies. Likewise, the dual mysteries of the missing girl and Martian politics must intersect somewhere are an old noir convention. It is striking that as futuristic as the setting is, everything is so familiar, down to city convention centers. It’s as though the twentieth or twenty-first century was simply smacked down in the far future but with innumerable alien species. It seems that very little changes in our behavior despite the passage of time.
The only thing that didn’t quite inspire me this issue was some of the artwork. At times, the character’s facial expressions came across as somewhat lifeless, wearing placid expressions as bullets fly around them. I love the varied art direction of all of the aliens, and this wasn’t something that bothered me in the first issue, so I suspect that it might have been some quirks for this issue.