I’m not really sure how to approach this review, as I want to provide some form of justification for giving this book such a low score. As a long time reader of books I approach them expecting a certain level of storytelling. As a sometimes reader of graphic novels (a.k.a. “comics”) I expect the same level of storytelling. After all, comics are just another medium for telling stories where the action and environment is depicted with images instead of words. No writer should be let off the hook or compromise their overall story just because there are illustrations to crutch them along the way.
That’s what you get with Jonathan Hickman‘s and Nick Pitarra‘s The Red Wing. You get a short graphic novel that’s heavy on graphics and short on novel. And that’s the paradox with this medium. It’s so much more expensive to produce a comic that tells a complex story than to develop an equally complex story using only words. The story almost always suffers when transformed into graphical form. This may bend comic fans the wrong way, but that’s just a fact. It’s not always true, but it’s an accurate generalization. I’ve read many books over the years, almost all of them science fiction. So I consider myself an aficionado and fair judge of the genre. I’ve yet to encounter a comic that mimics novel complexity, unless it’s a series that’s been running for years . . . not a 6 issue series, for example. At the same time it’s prohibitively expensive and time intensive to produce a complex story in graphic novel form without it extending over many volumes and costing the reader a small fortune. This book is priced at $15, took just north of an hour to read, and contained a fairly unsatisfactory story. That’s not a good value for a reader . . . well, at least this reader anyway.
[box type=”note” align=”” class=”” width=””]To stay alive in the future, the best fighter pilots in the world not only have to perfect their skills and master their aircraft, they also have to know how to travel through time! Collecting the acclaimed mini-series brought to you by award winning writer Jonathan Hickman and possibly the best new talent of the year, Nick Pitarra, The Red Wing is the story of the greatest battle in the history of three worlds.
The Red Wing by Jonathan Hickman & Nick Pitarra
Genre: Science Fiction
Media: Comic / Graphic Novel, 140 pages
Cover Art: Nick Pitarra
The Red Wing only has two things going for it. First, the interesting concept of a war fought across time, where the future is returning to the past to plunger its resources. Second, the wonderful art (see gallery below). Beyond those two aspects the writing and storytelling is minimal, simplistic, and just not meaty enough to flesh out the interesting premise. The characters are flat because there’s no time available or devoted in developing them. The novel feels rushed, as if the writers just want to get through it and be done with it. And it suffers greatly. The subject of a war fought across time needs about four times the page space it’s given here. The problem with almost every time travel story is that it introduces numerous paradoxes which cause the story to collapse on itself, even with apathetic judgement. I can count good time travel stories I’ve read or seen on a single hand. And The Red Wing is not one of them. Writers should avoid telling time travel stories unless they are humorous or parodies or the sub-genre itself.
There’s really not much more to say about this disappointing science fiction graphic novel. The complex and interesting time travel war is just not given the justice it deserves in such a short and expensive medium
Lastly, it has a title that is . . . odd . . . for the subject. Not one I would have chosen. I’ll let you look it up on Urban Dictionary.
Below is a small gallery highlighting the artwork from The Red Wing.
Words © 2015-2020, Neal Ulen. All rights reserved.
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