A trip back to the Cold War “Red One #1” – REVIEW
Written by: Xavier Dorison
Art by: Terry Dodson & Rachel Dodson
Anytime you have the dynamic married duo of Terry and Rachel Dodson as your artist team it’s going to draw some attention to your comic book. And the art is the best thing about Red One #1 by writer Xavier Dorison. This quirky Cold War era spy tale has the framework to be an exceptional book, but the narrative and details need work.
The year is 1977 and a wave of religion-based conservatism is making a lot of noise in the form of boycotts and activism in the United States. One symbolic figure of the radical movement railing against indecency and sin is called “The Carpenter.” He or she is on a crusade to kill those deemed dirty and immoral.
This cultural phenomenon has gotten the interest of the Soviet Union and they’re sending their best agent to try and curb this possible threat to an arms treaty between the two global powers. Enter Vera Yelnikov, a super soldier of sorts with bombshell looks. She’s been enlisted to fly to Hollywood, infiltrate the culture and become an inspiring superhero to derail the growing conservative drumbeat.
The premise, as thin as it is, has potential and Vera is a charming positive force who’s independent, smart and vivacious. Having the Dodsons draw and color her surely helps to elevate the material. Their layouts are very thorough and bright with plenty of detail and color. The caricatures of some of the sleazier characters are perfectly drawn with touches that are right out of the late 70’s. Again, the art is the draw here.
Vera doesn’t escape objectification here from male characters especially a creepy tech associate she makes contact with later in the story. She is in control though and is no dummy. She’s a fish out of water in the U.S. and she’s adjusting on the fly to get the assignment done. She may be a Russian spy, but she’s the protagonist. If James Bond were a young Russian woman you’d have Vera basically. Like Bond, she uses her charm and good looks to gather information and occasionally hook up.
The question is what is Red One trying to be? Is it a lighthearted homage to Cold War spy thrillers? Is it a commentary on political extremism in the U.S.? Is it a parody of exploitation films of the late 70’s? It’s not clear what it is currently and it may take several issues to see where it’s going and how Vera will be treated throughout.
Red One #1 is a very thorough first issue setting up the players and the plot that has the potential to be exciting, fun and sexy. It is good enough, on the Dodson’s art alone, to come back for issue two and maybe three if the potential is realized.