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FOUR-COLOR BEAUTY

For all of us who like Terry Dodson’s exquisite pictures of delectably beautiful women (as inked by his sister, Rachel), Red One enjoys a welcoming arrival at the comic book store. The plot is simple enough: a Russian female agent, Vera Yelnikov, is sent to America to eliminate a costumed do-gooder named The Carpenter, who is idolized by a Puritanical movement that threatens, er, world order, I assume. Vera is one of Dodson’s delections. In the first issue, she displays her physical prowess (and her figure) and accepts her assignment to go undercover in the U.S. In the second issue, she’s in the U.S., working as a chauffeur and helper to an old movie maker. In both issues, she takes on various baddies and handily whips them. At the end of the second issue, she finally confronts The Carpenter in physical combat. But the issue ends before the combat does.

Xavier Dorison’s story is infused with light-hearted humor, some of which involves Vera’s sex appeal (and, even, her enjoyment of canoodling). But there are other laughs, too. Even the fight sequences sparkle with wit, both verbal and pictorial.

Based entirely on the Dodsons’ reputations, the first two issues of Red One are being re-issued as a hardcover book this summer. Presumably, there’s a third issue a-borning somewhere, but I haven’t seen hide nor hair of it yet, what with all the hype about the hardcover.

The Dodsons’ pictures are beautiful and highly competent. Attention to detail is masterful. Perhaps the most notable aspect of the title, however, is how small most of the pictures are. Pages are full of panels—many of them tiny close-ups of faces or aspects of the action. Most pages have one somewhat large panel in which Vera (or “Alabama Jane” as she styles herself) is depicted. But most of the action and the narrative takes place in the small panels.

Dunno whether the page layouts are a direct result of the script by Dorison or not; I assume, though, that they are. The Dodsons are fully capable of telling the story under these circumstances, but their drawings suffer from the reduction in size. Dorison is not capitalizing on the Dodsons’ forte as much as he could with fewer panels to a page and larger pictorial content in each panel. Still, it’s fun to look at all of the tiny detail, panel after panel, and the Dodsons are such expert renderers that their pictures are always engaging.

RedOne

For more Rants & Raves with its comics news and reviews, gossip and cartooning lore, visit www.RCHarvey.com

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