Wednesday, June 21, 2023

Comics Review: "RED ZONE #4" - A Kiss Kiss Bang Bang Ending

RED ZONE #4 (OF 4)

STORY: Cullen Bunn
ART: Mike Deodato, Jr.
COLORS: Lee Loughridge
LETTERS: Steve Wands
COVER: Rahzzah
32pp, Color, $3.99 U.S. (June 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 #4 opens, Randall and Nika have sought shelter in the home of Novel Abramov, an old acquaintance of Randall's.  He lives on the outskirts of an abandoned city turned ghost town, which is the perfect place for a showdown.  Andreiko Volkov, the man who wants Crane dead, has called in the cowboy-cosplay killer, Maxim.  But hey, why not have just about everyone after Randall show up for a throw-down in a ghost town?

THE LOWDOWN:  AWA Studios marketing recently began providing me with PDF review copies of their comic book publications.  One of them is Red Zone #4, the fourth issue of the series that I've read.

Writer Cullen Bunn created an edge-of-your-seat thriller in Red Zone – right to the end.  It offers both a satisfying conclusion and a kick-ass last stand.  Bunn creates more exhilarating set pieces in each single issue than most comic books can offer in four issues.  He has given us enough insight into Randall Crane, enough to make him become someone who really intrigues readers.  Who is he?  What did he do in the past?  And what is the thing that his past has become in the present day?

In Red Zone, artist Mike Deodato, Jr. has created a page design and graphic design that presents a tapestry of thrills.  Deodato's art suggests 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.  That makes the art seem active rather than static.  Deodato throws his tapestry of static and kinetic energy at us to the end of this narrative.  If there is follow-up series, there will hopefully be more Deodato.

Red Zone #4 finishes this series with a bang, as it should.  Here, the villains do the damn thing.  They should come back, also, but, for now, their fates will make Red Zone's trade paperback collection a damn good read.

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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