In Review: Red Agent #1

Covert operations and super abilities combine to make an exciting adventure. Recommended.

The covers: Four excellent images grace this opening issue of this limited series. Mike Lilly and Ivan Nunes have Britney going up against the monstrous Alpha, the last remaining member of the New Crusaders, last seen in Zenescope’s series Coven. I thought this villain to be outstanding, and Lilly does an excellent job on him. Britney is also looking terrific as Red Agent on this A cover, with her giving a yell as she leads with her blade, but will follow it with her fist. The coloring is also good, with Nunes making Alpha’s eyes light up brilliantly in crimson, matching Britney’s costume. The B cover is by Caio Cacau and it has Red Agent sans hood, but carrying one heck of a monstrous rifle, while moving though some barren terrain. Strong image, but I want to see the title character up close, not this far away. Jamie Tyndall and Sanju Nivangune have created an ultra-spy version of Red, with her back to the reader, showing off the rifle she’s got strapped to her. This C cover has her standing before a red orb outlined in a vibrant orange. The look on her face tells the reader she knows of their presence, but isn’t going to take action since it wouldn’t even be a contest. This looks like imagery used to sell a first person shooter game. The final cover is a close-up of a hand holding a cellphone, delivering an image that contains an order: a picture of Red Agent swinging her sword, with the word TERMINATE above her. Giuseppe Cafaro and Wes Hartman have created the most spy-like cover, giving a tease of what’s to come of Red’s actions. Very well done. Overall grades: A A, B B-, C A-, and D A

The story: A boat large enough to have a helicopter on its deck is a secret government facility. It appears to be alone on the Pacific Ocean, but just underneath swims a man with a spear gun. He quickly takes out a guard and proceeds to the cabins. He releases a gas grenade stopping the guards in the hall from complaining about their eight month assignment. Finding the right room, the man has located a young red headed girl reading a book. When asked who he, he responds, “I’m Alpha, the First Knight. But with your help,” he grabs her by the hair and knocks her out with an electronic stun, “there will soon be others. Many, many others!” He puts her in a bag and leaps over the deck into the cold waters. His escape is as high tech as his weaponry, and he uses some of that weaponry as he leaves. The scene then moves to an iconic location at Cheyenne Mountain in Colorado as Britney Waters is recruited by the government to help stop those who are trying to kill “highborns” — those born with special abilities. She agrees to help as long as she does things her way. Her liaison quickly consents to her terms and she’s put onto stopping Alpha, who now works for a terrorist organization known as The Circle. Lou Iovino writes a really solid story, concocted by himself, Joe Brusha, and Ralph Tedesco. After the set up, the story quickly goes to Alpha’s next target, which then returns to the terrorist and his captive. There’s a good reveal about the little girl and her relationship with the monstrous figure. When the second target is gathered by Alpha, Agent Red is there and the fight is quick. There’s a good cliffhanger, with Red, and readers, realizing that Alpha is not going to be an easy take down. I’m raring for more! Overall grade: A

The art: I’ve been purchasing all of Zenescopes titles for the better half of a year and one artist has really stood out for me: Diego Galindo. I love the look of his characters. Alpha’s entrance onto the boat looks like something from a James Bond movie, if the star were the villain. Alpha is a wonderfully terrifying creation and he looks incredible on every panel and page he appears. The first panel on Page 4 shows how frightening he can be to a stranger, and when he goes after his prey on the final four pages he’s incredibly powerful. Even he’s just pointing a gun, he’s incredibly menacing. Britney starts off looking very professional as she’s being interviewed during her application for the Highborn Initiative. Galindo has her showing some good emotion as she’s weighing her decision about reentering the world of “covert operations”: Page 9, panel four and Page 10, panels one and five. The transition between Pages 11 and 12 is well done, as 11 shows the character’s dossier and then moves to showing an image of the character “in his element.” Two characters make a brief appearance on 16 and both are terrific for their quick scene. There’s a nice sense of humor and seriousness with them and I hope that story allows Galindo to return to them. I was initially shocked at what is shown in the first panel on 18, but upon a closer look it became an adjusted shock, as the incident that’s occurred is not what it seems. I love how the character was able to correct this occurrence with a simple move as the antagonist walks away. Brutal is not a strong enough word for the confrontation between Red and Alpha, and the final page is a super way to leave readers wondering how things could possibly get worse. I’m loving this art! Overall grade: A+ 

The colors: Due to this book falling into the spy genre, granted “the spy genre with enhanced abilities,” the colors by Grostieta are dark. This in no way means that things are lost in the darkness, rather that Grostieta knows how to simulate darkness without losing any of Galindo’s visuals. For example, the opening scene takes place at night on the ocean: Grostieta uses a variety of blues and grays to make it appear that it’s evening. When brighter colors do occur, such as in sounds, they resound in their panels. The appearance of the little girl is a colorful surprise compared to the previous pages, making her and her environment completely out of place among the violent actions that have occurred. Britney is wearing a soft red jacket and matching pants when she first appears and this makes her an instant focal point in the dark control room dominated by computer screens. I like that the dossier is the brightest color of all the images, making it appear dangerous and a high priority. The interiors of the location where a chase occurs are perfection, matching the location, and its ilk, fabulously. Grostieta is the right colorist for this book. Overall grade: A+ 

The letters: Scene settings, dialogue, sounds, yells, a transmission, a death rattle, and next issue’s tease come to life from Fabio Amelia. The sounds on this book are really strong, as are the utterances from characters that go into combat. Each explosion and cry of pain makes the reading experience much more thrilling. Overall grade: A

The final line: Here’s a book to add to your pull list. Covert operations and super abilities combine to make an exciting adventure. This is only to run for five issues, but I’m already wanting this to be a monthly. Recommended. Overall grade: A

Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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