May 2, 2012

Getting Graphic: "Red" by Warren Ellis and Cully Hamner

written by Warren Ellis
illustrated by Cully Hamner
WildStorm (2009)
128 pages
ISBN 9781401223465

I don't about any of you, but I thought the movie Red was fun. Heck, it was probably the most fun I've had watching a Bruce Willis film in many a year. It kind of got ripped by critics, and especially by fans of the Warren Ellis/Cully Hamner graphic novel, so I figured I ought to check out the book and see just how far off the range the movie went from its source material.

The story starts off with a new C.I.A. director introduced to one of the agency's deepest, darkest secrets: Paul Moses. Paul is a retired assassin, trying his best to get through life in as uneventful a fashion as possible. But when the boys dressed in black come to put the kibosh on him, he goes right back into killing machine mode like he had never stopped. Even in his autumn years, he's unstoppable, and once he figures out who is trying to kill him, he targets them.

Unlike the film, this Paul Moses is a one-man army. No kooky sidekicks or comical subplots. All this book offers is a very keenly focused shoot-em-up that never slows down until the final showdown where everything is revealed about why he's been targeted by the C.I.A.

The artwork kind of reminded me of Brett Weldele's work from The Surrogates. It's a little more cartoonish that I expected given the subject matter, but it kind of works, and is stylized enough to give the book a very polished look. Every action scene is captured flawlessly and emotions jump off the page during the tensest moments.

It's worth looking up, though it is a shorter storyline that that of the film, and if you've seen the movie first then the ending will feel rather abrupt. But it's still a fun thrillride.

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