I’ve been trying my best to work my way through the massive backlog of comics that has become my ‘reading pile’ lately (a pile which sadly isn’t diminishing due to me continually topping it up with whatever takes my fancy). However, after finally stumbling across a copy, I decided to fast-track Volume one of the Image series ‘Thief of Thieves’ straight to the top of the pile, as it’s one I’ve had my eye on for a good while now.
I can only assume that most of us are familiar with Robert Kirkman’s work as creator of the Walking Dead. Well, this title sees him ditch the zombies to take a pretty impressive stab at the ‘crime caper’ genre. The story is a writing collaboration between Kirkman and rising star Nick Spencer, and is based around Conrad Paulson – a master thief known as ‘Redmond’ – who is attempting to manage his addiction to high-risk thievery while at the same time attempting to reconnect with his estranged family.
Almost immediately, the comparisons to such movies as Ocean’s Eleven and the Italian Job are pretty much impossible to ignore, and the writers and artist Shawn Martinbrough have clearly opted to take an almost ‘cinematic’ approach when it comes to laying out the story. However, this is definitely no ensemble production. While the supporting characters in the tale are established well enough for us to get a decent grasp of their personalities, this story is almost entirely focused on Conrad, and he is the driving force behind almost every page.
Martinbrough’s artwork is perfectly suited for this title, and his shadowy, thick-lined style and gift for facial expressions works extremely well in a series where the action scenes are minimal and most of the plot developments come through ‘talking heads’ and heated conversations. The colour palette is also sparse and somewhat muted, giving the comic a more gritty appearance than its ‘blockbuster movie’ premise would suggest.
Interestingly, the story itself plays out almost like a pilot for a TV show, with an exciting, twist-filled story being used to set up the main character and the status quo for the world he inhabits. And even more interestingly is the fact that the series is currently in the process of being adapted for television by AMC, the same network that distributes The Walking Dead, under close collaboration with Kirkman himself. It stands to reason that the network would be interested in more of Kirkman’s work after the monumental success of the Walking Dead, and after reading this book, I can definitely see this title doing well as an episodic television show.
I’m not going to delve too deeply into the story for risk of spoiling any of the twists and turns, but suffice to say that Conrad makes for an extremely compelling protagonist, and the story – while admittedly nothing revolutioary – is sharp and intelligent enough to keep the pages turning. So if you’re a fan of a good old fashioned heist caper, and want to get in on the ground floor of what I’m predicting will be an extremely successful television show, you should definitely give this collection a look.