Two comics about time travel and war, in very different ways.
Out today is The Red Wing #1 by Jonathan Hickman, Nick Pitarra and Rachelle Rosenberg from Image. As well as Captain America #1 by Ed Brubaker and Steve McNiven for Marvel.
The Red Wing is a troop fighting as part of a Time War. Altering the enemy’s past so as to defeat their present, dealing with a new way of seeing the world. It has parallels to the first time man took to the sky in wartime, biplanes giving a literal new dimension to warfare and a very new way of seeing the world. And so it is here, another dimension to fight in. We meet two different generations, the fathers and the sons, both fighting the war, in two separate times. We are told that there are no paradoxes and reading the book seems pretty simple when you work out the differences between time ships and the events being portrayed. And then the beard comes into play, and you realise there are lies being told.
When writing time travel stories, you’re working in a world that has already seen Robert Heinlein’s All You Zombies, Douglas Adams’ Dirk Gently Holistic Detective, Frank Miller and Walt Simonson’s Terminator Vs Robocop and Steven Moffat’s Continuity Errors. Red Wing, despite a couple of interesting storytelling devices, is not some clever-clever attempt to join the above, it is not overly complex – at least not let, however it is probably keeping plenty of its cards close to its chest. The first issue feels like it’s holding back, but it does intrigue. A second issue should hopefully assuage those doubts.
Pitarra is another artist fitting into the Frank Quitely mode of late. I remember when Quitely started drawing New X-Men, Joe Quesada said that he expected portfolios to be full of Quitely clones in months to come. It didn’t happen. Ten years later however, it’s a different story. A specific way of portraying objects in three dimensions, a sketchiness that’s very specific in where the lines are laid down, texture details without crosshatching and an awareness of outline line weight. It’s nice to see more of it.
Steve McNiven is of a different school, a Travis Charest attention to posing and detail, creating still, perfectly detailed, strong clean lines without a wrinkle or a jiggle. Light crosshatching knocked back by the colourist who also shapes three dimensions within the lines, Justin Posner stepping up to an art style that demands a good colourist to bring out its best. Even when it’s all rather dark.
Captain America is a book born from death. A dead Bucky, a dead Peggy Carter and a man who should have died long ago. There are four characters seen here should should be old people’s homes but are instead happy to run, flipping around with guns. This is, again, a war out of time, courtesy of fountains of youth, ice freezers and… something else that may also be time travel. We’ll see.
And so we flip between times, a current danger that has its roots seventy years ago. How a mission that went wrong has led to a violent attack now. How someone thought as decaying into a coma has something to do with Codename Bravo running around the streets of Paris all tooled up. And action scenes with fighting, guns, blowing stuff up and throwing shields all over the place. All with that McNiven sheen that makes the whole thing feel like a summer blockbuster.
But whatever the time, whatever the timeline, neither book seems to see war as a negative thing, more ab opportunity for adventure. Well, when the comics are drawn like this, it’s very understandable.