Red Flags #1

Posted: Tuesday, October 24, 2006
By: Steve Saville

Cover of Red Flags #1 Creator(s): James Hitchcock and Joe Willy
Publishers: Red Flag Publishing (Self Published)
From: USA
Price: $1 (US)

Take this 16 page black and white comic for what it is, a taster, an introduction to two new creators or as Joe and James themselves put it 'warning shots from virtually unknown creators.'

What we are presented with here are two comics, the first, Snatched, is the opening chapter in an ongoing storyline whilst the second, Mr Smith, is a self contained tale about a modern day hired killer.

Of the two it is the former that makes the strongest impression. It starts as a tale of a kidnapped child but in the best tradition of mysterious disappearances it develops into something far more extensive than a simple case of a missing child. As the police and journalists investigate the finger of blame is pointed first at the family themselves who have a history of abusing the child and are described as "recreational chemists." Plenty of grounds for suspicion there then. That all seems too obvious though and after all we, as readers, actually saw the boy enticed into a stranger's car. Dramatic irony is certainly a wonderful thing.

That is about all we do know for sure as further revelations only confuse us and pose far more questions than answers. A woman wakes up having had a Columbine shooting nightmare and we visit a building that looks for all intents like the headquarters of a government agency but seems to be a foil for something more sinister, you see plenty of questions here.

The chapter ends shrouded in mystery with the reader being pulled towards an intriguing plot that seems to be quickly adopting a conspiracy theory stance.

This is an unnerving first chapter and one that should develop into a worthwhile read as we follow journalist Johnny Johnson in his pursuit of the truth about the missing child, Bobbie. The narrative is well paced and shows promise. We will need to be carefully fed just enough clues to keep us on track though but I have no doubt that Mr Hitchcock is well aware of his responsibilities in this area.

The art work is fine if a little static in places. This is most obvious in the frames that feature the police dog and handler searching missing Bobbie’s property. At times there is just not enough background to keep us aware of where we are but this could be a deliberate stylistic feature on the part of artist, Joe Willy.

The second story Mr Smith is a more predictable tale of an urbane hired killer going about his daily work. It is not an original concept and whilst there is nothing wrong with this version it doesn’t really give us anything new or develop the concept in any meaningful way. Once again the art work is effective if a little sparse when it comes to background.

So overall we have been invited to test the waters with this presentation and I for one having got my feet wet am looking forward to diving in and swimming a length or two. Come on boys we need a full length comic to see if you’ve really got the goods.

In a Word: Barren.

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