RED ZONE #1 (OF 4)
STORY: Cullen Bunn
ART: Mike Deodato, Jr.
COLORS: Lee Loughridge
LETTERS: Steve Wands
VARIANT COVER ARTISTS: Mike Deodato, Jr. with Lee Loughridge
32pp, Color, $3.99 U.S. (March 2023)
Red Zone is a new four-issue comic book miniseries from writer Cullen Bunn and artist Mike Deodato, Jr. Published by AWA Studios, the series focuses on an American professor who must fight his way out of Russia where he lived a former life full of long-buried secrets. Colorist Lee Loughridge and letterer Steve Wands complete the series creative team.
Red Zone #1 introduces Randall Crane, an unassuming professor of Russian and Slavic Studies at NYU. After one of his classes, he gets a visit from Captain Simon Crow of the United States Army Special Forces. Crow tells Crane that the U.S. government is calling the professor in for a secret international mission in Russia.
Crow is leading a five-man extraction team, and their target is Elena Sidorov, a former Prima Ballerina Assoluta of the Moscow Ballet. What she knows makes her a high priority asset to the U.S., and she has specifically asked that Randall, once a close friend of hers, accompany the team. Not long into the mission in St. Petersburg, there are complications, and before he knows it, Randall is alone and forced to summon the secrets of his past.
THE LOWDOWN: AWA Studios marketing recently began providing me with PDF review copies of their comic book publications. My first PDF is Red Zone #1.
The characters, setting, plot, mood, drama, and action that writer Cullen Bunn offers reminds me of one of my all-time favorite action movies, director John Frankenheimer's 1998 film, Ronin, starring Robert De Niro and Jean Reno. The suspense, intrigue, shadowy characters, and the mission disaster: Bunn spins an espionage thriller that effectively works in the comic book medium. Bunn offers that thrilling slow burn the draws the reader into the narrative – just in time for the explosion.
Artist Mike Deodato, Jr. has refined his graphical and drawing style into a kind of photo-realism similar to that of Bryan Hitch's. It perfectly serves the moody and mysterious international thriller that is Red Zone #1. Lee Loughridge's skillful coloring adds layer upon layer of atmosphere, and Steve Wands' lettering and effects capture the edginess of this first issue.
This first issue of Red Zone is an excellent introduction to the series, and it definitely makes me want to return for more. I highly recommend it to anyone looking for really good comic books in general, regardless of genre, dear readers.
I READS YOU RECOMMENDS: Fans of action and espionage in comic books will want to read Red Zone.
Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux a.k.a. "I Reads You"
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