Wednesday, May 24, 2023

Comics Review: "RED ZONE #3" Takes on Assassins of Every Kind

RED ZONE #3 (OF 4)

STORY: Cullen Bunn
ART: Mike Deodato, Jr.
COLORS: Lee Loughridge
LETTERS: Steve Wands
COVER: Rahzzah
VARIANT COVER ARTISTS: Mike Deodato, Jr. with Lee Loughridge
32pp, Color, $3.99 U.S. (May 2023)

Rated: “Teen+”

Red Zone is a 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 introduces Randall Crane, an unassuming professor of Russian and Slavic Studies at NYU.  By request, he becomes part of U. S. Army Special Forces secret extraction mission into Russia.  The target is Elena Sidorov, once a very close friend of the professor's.  What she knows makes her a high priority asset to the U.S.  When the mission goes wrong, however, Randall is alone and forced to summon the secrets of his past to save himself and Elena daughter, Nika.

As Red Zone #3 opens, Randall and Nika are scurrying about the alleys and back streets of Moscow, avoiding death by gunfire from above and mechanized death from behind them.  Milena, a female assassin who was once the deadliest woman in the world, is perched somewhere above them, trying to take them out with sniper fire.  Murderer for hire, Nikita Vasiliev, is an old enemy who now wears a hydraulic suit of armor.  Hopefully, Nikita and Milena can get in each other's way before they kill Randall and Nika.

Even if they escape this pair, there are killers and spies at every step of the way.  And their one hope may not be in the condition they need him to be.

THE LOWDOWN:  AWA Studios marketing recently began providing me with PDF review copies of their comic book publications.  One of them is Red Zone #3, the third issue of the series that I've read.

Writer Cullen Bunn has certainly created an edge-of-your-seat thriller in Red Zone.  It is one of the few comic books in which I eagerly await each new issue, and this third issue does not disappoint.  Bunn creates more exhilarating set pieces in a single issue than most comic books can offer in four issues.

In Red Zone, artist Mike Deodato, Jr. has created a page design and graphic design that presents a tapestry of thrills.  His illustrative style in Red Zone is similar to the design artist B. Krigstein used for the classic EC Comics short story “Master Race” (Impact, April 1955).  Deodato creates the visual suggestion that Crane and Nika are trapped at every turn – and they practically are.  Around each page, on the borders and edges, however, are slivers of panels that anticipate the coming drama and action.  It makes the art seems active rather than static.

The first issue of Red Zone was an excellent introduction to the series.  The second issue was like an assurance that the first issue was no fluke.  Red Zone #3 will make readers desperate to come back for more of this fine series.

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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