The Red Wing (2011)

 

Quote:
Who are they, he asked. What choice did you make that they would want to destroy you? Robert, what do they want? And I replied, we don’t know

 

This book collects the four issue mini-series from Image Comics. It was written by Jonathan Hickman who writes almost exclusively for Image and Marvel working on properties such as Fantastic Four, Ultimates and S.H.I.E.L.D. It features some pretty nice art from a new name to me, Nick Pitarra, who has worked with Hickman before on The Manhattan Projects for Image and S.H.I.E.L.D. for Marvel.

The story focuses on Dominic Dorne, a cadet earning to pilot a TAC (Temporal Attack Craft) II ship in the 23rd century. His society is at war with a mysterious invader, wearing helmets with blue visors, who are attacking his timeline in the past and ravaging its resources. Dominic is emulating his father, Robert, who went missing on a mission into the past and the story flips the usual trope and has the father trying to atone for the sins of the son.

I liked this book on a first read – though it has its flaws. A story of this nature has to be self contained but I thought it was maybe a little too short – which is a little surprising given that the plot reminded me a lot of the extremely short Future Shock type stories from the old days of 2000AD. But I whizzed through this book very quickly and another issue or two might have been beneficial to help explain the set up better.

I have to say that the (pseudo-) scientific explanation behind the story didn’t quite work for me. The main problem was that the threat was never adequately explained. The only glimpse that we see of the 23rd century, outside of the ring, looks very futuristic and peaceful. The story didn’t really show us the effects that the Blue invaders were having on the Reds and why there was a full blown war.

Having said that I love stories that involve time travel and the best ones always leave me with a sore head as I try and figure out what is going on. And given the impossibility of the phenomenon, it seems a bit churlish not to enjoy the story on its own merits. The tropes used might have been well worn and the surprise ending not really much of a surprise but it was an enjoyable read nonetheless. Maybe I liked it so much because it is the first sci-fi comic that I have read in a while.

I liked the art in general but the design on the ships seemed a bit lazy being just blocky shapes. The art reminded me of Bryan Talbot in places and Geof Darrow in others and I would definitely be interested in seeing more of Pitarra’s work.

MW (2010)

 

Quote:
I robbed the bank and killed the guard! Of course I pretended to be Miho, all tied up, and took your ransom money too! Ha ha! Isn’t that a hoot?

 

This is the collection of a manga series from the late 1970s by Osamu Tezuka. Tezuka is probably best known for creating Astro Boy among others. This story is a much darker one than those he is more usually associated with.

The book features two main characters: the amoral Michio Yuki who spends the book kidnapping, murdering and sleeping with men and women to use them in his schemes and Father Iwao Garai who is one of Yuki’s lovers and who is trying to earn forgiveness for past sins by redeeming Yuki. Their tangled history begins on the island of Okino Mafune when a young Garai is a member of a delinquent gang of youths who kidnap the very young Yuki hoping for a ransom pay out. The pair hole up in a cave high above the island and come down the next day to find that everyone on the island has been killed by the accidental release of a chemical warfare agent called MW. A grown up Yuki blames the MW for altering his brain and causing his amoral behaviour and his crimes target people involved in the cover up of the incident. Eventually he discovers that the deadly gas has been moved from the island to an a foreign military base near Toyko. Yuki is determined in his madness to steal the MW and replicate it so that he can kill the whole world while Garai trying to make up for the past tries to stop him and save his soul.

This book reminds me of the later Deathnote manga. Like it there is a dark premise, a supremely confident villain who imagines himself untouchable and an investigator who is sure of the identity of the perpetrator of the crimes but lacks the proof to bring him to justice. The book examines the complex ties that bind two very different men through a large portion of their lives. From the teenage delinquent turned Catholic priest to the young innocent boy made into a monster by the experiences of one fateful day. It is chilling to be almost charmed by a character who uses his charisma to manipulate both sexes and to inspire devotion so strong that his victims will defend him against the bigger crimes that he is accused of. An excellent read and a story that does hang around too long as some manga can do to their detriment.