The cover to this first issue of RED CITY reminds me of an old movie poster; the hard-boiled hero splashed against his gritty -- albeit futuristic -- city, a woman in red, and collage elements that promise explosive action. The noir junkie in me can't say no to that cover.
Once we crack the book open, we're thrust into a very different Mars than we're used to; it's at the center of some major interplanetary politics, and is riddled with questionable folks. One such questionable fellow? Our hero, fresh out of lockup for breaking one too many rules while supposedly being a good guy.
Mark Dos Santos reminds us that we're still reading a crime book by going heavy on the inks; it's a nice balance against the bright colors of futuristic Vegas-Hollywood-Times Square mashup Mars Central, and it keeps things noir-gritty. That balance -- traditional noir themes and tropes against an ultra-bright sci-fi setting -- permeates RED CITY, visually and in the dialogue.
Daniel Corey's dialogue is sharp; it's tonally appropriate for the story to the extent that I made up voices for characters like Jacques and Obek. It's also a great reminder that the setting isn't standard 20th century -- certain choices, like the almost-too-formal manner in which characters addresses each other, feel appropriately alien.
Some inner monologue feels authentic to the noir genre, but Cal's narration is a little too much for my tastes. I like the brooding parts, but would be ok with the history lessons and story exposition coming out in other ways.
RED CITY takes two genres that Image fans can't seem to get enough of -- sci-fi and noir -- and melds them together in a street-level book with interplanetary consequences. Mobsters, crooked cops, and other classic noir tropes add a dark edge to a neon future, and a lengthy history involving warring planets sets the stakes high for our hardboiled hero.