Review: Thief of Thieves #1 by Robert Kirkman, Nick Spencer & Shawn Martinbrough

Thief of Thieves #1

Story by: Robert Kirkman
Written by: Nick Spencer
Art by: Shawn Martinbrough
Colored by Felix Serrano
Lettered by: Rus Wooten

Published by: Image
Cover Price: $2.99

Note : This review is for the digital version of the comic available from Comixology

Warning! This review contains quite a few spoilers!

A few weeks ago, one of my fellow Nexus writers asked me why I always talk about Marvel and DC as the Big Two. I pointed out that when two companies basically make up 80% of an industry, it’s hard not to think of them that way. When you check out comic book message boards, easily 95% of the topics are related to Marvel or DC books.  When I do my new comic release columns each week, I tend to put Marvel and DC first, because I know that is what most of our readers would be looking for at their comic shop.

But, I have always loved indy books. No one banged the drum louder for Crossgen back in the day (hell, I actually got hired for 411 Mania, which later turned into this gig, because I kept bugging the editor for his lack of Crossgen coverage), and I still buy comics from IDW, Boom, Archie, and Image.  In fact, my digital comic collection at the moment has more Boom comics than Marvel comics.

While writing this review, it occurred to me how important Image was to the indy comic market. There have been “Indy” comic companies around long before Image, but when Image came around, it really caused the retailers to start looking at the market in a new way. Dark Horse, Valiant, even my beloved Crossgen would never have gotten as big as they did without Image breaking down some major barriers.

Even today, long after most of the original big names have moved on from Image, Image still continues to be a major player in the indy market. Image truly is the mad science lab of comics, giving new creators the opportunity to make names for themselves, and even allowing big name creators to try something new. I honestly don’t see Marvel or DC giving a big push to projects like Fatale and Thief of Thieves, but under Image, both of these great books sold out from Diamond even before they were released.

Summary (contains spoilers): Thief of Thieves starts with a rather strange panel of a man staring a massive blank picture frame, and answering his cell phone which says “Caller unknown.”

The scene shifts (presumingly to sometime earlier), and we find out that this man is named Redmond, and he is a thief. He is communicating with his associate Celia during a heist of a cruise ship. Redmond is seemingly caught during his heist, and is brought before one of the passangers, a Countess who accuses him of stealing a pearl from her safe deposit box on the ship. When the Captain can’t find the pearl on Redmond, the Countess demands that Redmond be taken back to her home country to get justice. They leave the ship via helicopter, and its revealed that the Countess is really Redmond’s associate, Celia, and that this was all a very elaborate heist that allowed her access to the ship’s safety deposit box to steal something else.

We flash back to find out how Celia and Redmond met in the first place. Celia was trying to steal cars, Redmond saw this novice and showed her the best way to do it. She basically became his apprentice.  This whole sequences is really cleverly written.

Back to modern day, and we find out that Redmond is supposed to be planning a major heist in Venice, but has been dragging his feet on it for some reason. The job is for a man named Arno, and the team is already lined up. Celia brings Redmond to Arno and the team to talk about the delays. And Redmond proclaims “I QUIT!” in the end.

Review: The extended car stealing scene really was fun to read, and I loved how the heist in the beginning played out. Both really helped to introduce the characters and set up the story perfectly. But in a visual medium like a comic book pages and pages of talking doesn’t always work. As a novel or short story, this book would have been perfect, but at times, it seemed to kind of miss out on what’s so special about the medium. That is especially strange since Kirkman and Spencer are both veterans and usually great at writing for comics.

Just like Fatale a few weeks ago, it seemed like a lot of what happened in this issue required more context. The opening scene with Redmond on the phone and the end with his quitting both are something that were meant to have an impact, but the reader doesn’t quite know why yet. Nothing wrong with this kind of setup, especially when it’s done in a way to make the reader ask “WHY?” and not “WHY SHOULD I CARE?” Thief of Thieves was definitely a lot more of the first question. I had a lot of questions, and am really excited to see what answers Kirkman and Spencer can give us here.

Redmond and Celia’s relationship seems like it will be a vital part of this book.  I couldn’t help but think of Max Damage and Jailbait from the first few issues of Incorruptible, but I think a lot of that came from reading the solicits about upcoming issues and knowing that Redmond is looking to get out of his criminal life.  This is a story that we’ve seen in movies and TV shows before, but never comics, and I am really curious how it will play out here.

One thing I never really got a handle for was Shawn Martinbrough’s art on this book. I usually try to include a few panels from a comic in any review I write, but I just didn’t see anything that I thought would grab the reader out of context. There just wasn’t a lot of visually dynamic moments in this book. Don’t take that as a knock on Martinbrough, his style seemed to work well enough, but I hope as this series moves forward, we get to see a little more action and opportunity for him to really show off what he can do with this. I came into this book hoping for some exciting scenes of thievery…maybe not as overblown as Ocean’s Eleven, just something to really grab my attention.

All in all, this was a good first issue, definitely enough to make me pick up issue 2 to see where this is going.  At the very least, it’s unlike anything else out there right now, so that’s reason enough for me to want to support it.

Final Score: 8.0 This book was really solid, but for a first issue, it probably could have used something a little more flashy to grab the readers attention.

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