Image Comics 2018
Written & Designed by Christopher Sebela
Illustrated by Joshua Hixson
Lettered by Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou
Molly “Red” Wolfram only became Jack because she wanted the kind of work she grew up doing and the wages she deserved. While her secret persona gets her lucrative work in the logging camps, it also get her shanghaied out of a Portland bar, waking up on the Bellwood, a boat headed for China. Two years later, when her contract is up, Red kills the sailors who kept her captive and comes back to Portland, ready to find her family and cut a swath of vengeance across this sleepy town.
Wow this was an emotionally charged issue and that’s put it mildly. The way that the guys present this to us is exceptionally well done and it pulls you in, then pulls your heartstrings and leaves you spent as Molly continues on her journey. She’s been Jack for so long now that I am not sure that she knows how to live as Molly again. Considering what the opening showed us it’s no wonder why she’s continuing onward as Jack.
While I have always liked and enjoyed Christopher’s writing but there must something in the water lately because the level of work I've been seeing lately is oiff the charts. The sheer amount of emotion he’s able to bring to the reader is astonishing. Not only that but it gives Molly that extra boost she needs to give her the fuel that she desires to extract her revenge. I am not sure if this had played out any other way that her life would have been worth seeking out the revenge.
The way this is structured has such a natural progression to it. From the moment Molly falls asleep inside her old home we see the events she’s only described as Jack was placed in a cell, the very cell by the very men she’s come home to find, the ones that shipped her off to Shanghai. I like how that flowed and how easily it was to see this as a remembrance kind dream. The characterisation is sublime as we are taken on this roller coaster ride alongside her as we see the past and present collide with what we think of as her future. I say think of because while we see the clues there’s no real way of knowing if she’s ever going to be strong enough to confront what she left behind that cares about the most.
The artwork that we see in the interiors here isn’t normally what I would gravitate towards but I have to admit that I find it oddly fascinating and completely in sync with the story. There is just this way that Joshua manipulates the linework and the colours that he uses to create this atmosphere that rivals shows like Taboo or anything on AMC. The utilisation of the page layouts and how we see the angles and perspective in the panels shows off a really wonderful eye for storytelling. The little details that we see here make huge impacts and how backgrounds are utilised really help expand the story or just the moment beautifully.
That comics aren’t only full of capes and powers but has room for just some good old fashioned strong and powerful storytelling is utterly delightful to see. The story itself and how we see it and plot develop alongside this sensational characterisation as we finally see a story about revenge and betrayal that doesn’t make us cringe. This creative team and this story somehow manages to make the reader feel alive in ways that will surprise and thrill you.