Review – Redline #2 (Oni Press)

Publisher: Oni Press
Writer: Neal Holman
Artist: Clayton McCormack
Colourist: Kelly Fitzpatrick
Release Date: 12th April 2017

Tensions are rising on Mars.  In the wake of the bombing in the first chapter, this issue sees Denton Coyle and his unit  brought in to investigate a suicide bombing outside the gates of Vantage Solutions.  Are these events linked to each other, or perhaps even to Denton’s own past?  That’s the question the latest issue of Redline tries to ask, with results that verge from shocking to puzzling to downright hilarious.

Redline is a truly unique creation.  While writer Neal Holman’s work as Art Director on FX’s Archer pretty much guarantees a finely tuned sense of humour, things never feel slapstick or throwaway and the stakes have been kept continually high throughout the series so far.  At the same time, just because you’re locked in a tense pressure cooker between the humans and the local alien population doesn’t mean you can’t have some fun, and while Coyle remains relatively straight-faced here, the same can’t necessarily be said for his bickering, shade-throwing unit.

Honestly, Holman deserves all the credit in the world for putting together some of the best dialogue I’ve read in quite some time.  The banter between the members of Coyle’s team is hilariously authentic, filled with throwaway lines that would be destined to become instantly quotable gems were this series ever to appear on the big or small screen.   The supporting cast is colourful and entertaining; real people with their own hangups and quirks, all sharing the same exhausted weariness about this goddamn planet.

The artistic partnership of Clayton McCormack and Kelly Fitzpatrick do a great job on the visual side of the book, giving everything a gritty, grimy aesthetic that keeps this more ‘drama’ than ‘science fiction’.  Nothing seems to be clean on this version of Mars, and Coyle’s perpetually fed-up demeanor is conveyed beautifully by McCormack’s scratchy pencils.

As grounded as the artwork undoubtedly is, the thing that really works about it is the way McCormack manages to nail the comedic beats. The expressions of the characters, the layouts of the panels, everything is used to underscore the humour of Holman’s script, and even during the action sequences he manages to inject a little irreverence into his artwork to stop things from becoming too dry or dour.

Oh, and he draws one hell of a severed penis, too.

This latest issue pushes things along nicely, although the flashback sequences are a little bewildering – possibly intentionally so – for the time being.  Holman may be taking his time in getting to the point, but with characters this enjoyable there’s not really any need to be in much of a hurry, and given the strength of the writing so far, almost any situation that occurs from here on in is bound to be ripe with comedic and dramatic potential.

Redline is a fantastic new series that comes highly recommended, although given its unconventional approach to genres, it’s also a fairly difficult one to categorize.   Imagine a cross between Sheriff of Babylon and Total Recall, only with way more dick jokes, and you’re probably in the right ballpark.  Either way, this is one of the funniest books on the shelves and is definitely worth a small chunk of your hard earned money every month for as long as it’s being made.

Rating: 4.5/5.

If you want to find out more about REDLINE, make sure to check out our interview with Neal Holman, Clayton McCormack and Kelly Fitzpatrick by CLICKING HERE.

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ceejThe writer of this piece was: Craig Neilson-Adams (aka Ceej)
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