(Image Comics, 2014)
Writer – Daniel Corey
Artist – Mark Dos Santos
Color – Chris Fenoalio
Letters and Logo – Dave Lanphear
What do you get when you take the grittiness of Blade Runner, the locale of Total Recall, and throw in the politics and strangely attractive alien girls of Star Trek? You get Red City; the premiere issue of which released this week from Image Comics.
Daniel Corey (Moriarty, Prophet) introduces us to the future in the form of interplanetary politics, the kind where Captain Kirk would have been right at home. Mars has become the center of the universe, the pleasure planet, where people and not-so people go to take a break and let off steam. That kind of environment also attracts all of the vice and illegal activities you’d expect in any big city, and those businesses are watched (and sometimes aided) by the local police, in this case, the Federal Security Service. Cal Talmadge is your typical rough-around-the-edges beat cop, fired from the force but so good at his job that he was picked up by the feds. Die Hard in space? I feel like all I’m doing is referencing popular film and television, but I see all of these hallmarks in this book. (Just wait till I get to the art.) We follow Talmadge’s string of bad ideas, all of which he does in service to the greater good, but that only seem to end badly for him. The reveals are typical for this type of story, a shady past, a penchant for pretty ladies, and the ability to be rough with rough types when he needs to be. But just because it’s typical doesn’t mean it’s not enjoyable. The reason these stories are so popular, why there are so many touch points in popular culture, is because they’re fun to read.
Mark Dos Santos (Fall of Cthulu, Western Tales of Terror) takes to the stars with this comic, bringing in subtle references to popular sci-fi stories. I saw an alien that could have been one of the Silence from Dr. Who, Angel bears more than a passing resemblance to Daryl Hannah’s character in Blade Runner, FSS head Colonel Slade has a bit of Tommy Lee Jones MIB in him. But again, these are touchstones in a vast tapestry that encompasses the whole of my sci-fi experience, one that is not too different from everyone else’s. But the challenge with a book like this, as with any sci-fi or fantasy book, is that there are so many ways to go with the alien designs. In reality, aliens could be anything from little green men to sentient carbon crystals (copyright that, just in case) but the decision to go with mainly humanesque aliens, in this case, is a good one. It eases the stresses that could make such a story less about the crime and more about alien biology. It also makes their behavior, which is very human in nature, more believable.
So, if you care to wander the stars in search of all things human, look no further than Red City #1. The odds that human nature, i.e. greed, vice, pleasure for its own sake, would cross species is slim, but when you’re dealing with Venusians…well, you can never deal with Venusians.
Daniel Corey and Mark Dos Santos have presented an homage to my sci-fi childhood. Red City is a bleak look at the red planet through human-tinted glasses.
Brad Gischia is a writer and artist living in the frozen Upper Peninsula of Michigan. He is married and has three kids and a dog, who all put up with his incessant prattling about comic books.