By Daniel Vlasaty
When I heard that one of the dudes behind shows like Archer and Sealab 2021 was writing a comic book I was super pumped. I said to myself that this thing had to be the book. That it would be fun and hilarious and well, basically, like reading a comic book version of one of those shows. I can see that here, kind of. I can feel it in the book, at least of the periphery. But sadly, I also could feel that something was missing. I’m not sure what it is, but whatever it is the book just never clicked for me.
The main problem I had with Red Line is that there’s almost no time spent on set-up. We’re dropped into the middle of a scene and left trying to keep up and catch up. Now, I’m assuming that we’ll get a little bit more of what’s actually going on in subsequent issues, but I read this issue twice and I was still having trouble figuring out what was going on or who was who and, really, why I should even care at all. That’s the thing, without any set-up or real introduction to the characters and what they’re doing or going through, I, as a reader, have very little invested in this thing. Am I supposed to care about them because I’m a human and so are these characters and they are telling me how bad the aliens are? Because I just don’t care. I don’t know these characters from a hole in the ground and not a single one of them seems to have any likable qualities.
I’m not trying to say that the writing is bad, it’s not. Actually, the dialogue is pretty solid. It’s real and flows and doesn’t feel clunky. What I’m saying is we’re just not given enough. The idea is to hook a reader, give them something they can latch onto, usually I’d think that would be a character. But I’m just not seeing it here. I honestly do not give a shit about any of them, not the drunk dude who spends the entire issue burping, farting, and pooping his way through a hangover, not the whiny new guy who’s trying to sleep his way to the top, not the other whiny guy who swears just about every other word that comes out of his mouth. Not a single one of them seemed to have any depth to them. I’m more intrigued by the aliens and what is going on with them. Did they set the bomb? And what’s the deal with that weird artifact thing?
Maybe I’m getting older and more of a curmudgeon or whatever, but sadly fart and poop jokes just don’t do it for me anymore.
I just don’t know anymore.
Clayton McCormack’s art was good, but I think I went into this book expecting art more along the lines of Archer, something cleaner and more refined. But that’s not to say it was bad; it’s just not what I was expecting. We do get a good sense of place through the art, though. Because the version of Mars in this book is basically a war zone. It’s burned out and bombed to shit. In all honesty, it could just as well be any desert setting. If I didn’t know better I could have easily mistaken it for Afghanistan or Iraq, or any place like that. There is nothing outwardly Martian about it, except for the Martians, I guess.
I get what this book is trying to be. I do. But it just fell short a little short of that for me. There’s some potential here and I think it’s possible to turn the story around. I just think this was a weak first issue. I needed something to keep my mind from wandering while reading. I needed something to latch onto. I needed a character to relate to and root for. But I didn’t find any of that here.
Red Line #1