Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Thief of Thieves #1

Writers: Robert Kirkman & Nick Spencer
Artist: Shawn Martinbrough
Company: Image Comics

Ocean's Eleven, To Catch a Thief, and White Collar. These are just a few stories that feature bad boys and thieves that are suave and classy and are people we can ultimately root for as they rob the rich and the common man for various reasons. It's a trend that probably won't ever stop in the entertainment industry. With comics, the same trend exists. In standard superhero fare, we have Gambit. In the land of more realistic comics however, we now have Conrad Paulson to fill the particular void. So far, he's doing quite nicely.

Which is a little surprising for me, with this pair of creators involved. Now, I know what you must be asking, "What is Nick talking about? Robert Kirkman and Nick Spencer are awesome." I will agree that they have talent, but many of their stories miss the mark for me. Walking Dead has petered out over the years and I checked in on the first arc of Morning Glories and wasn't hooked by what was there. Maybe I'm just hard to please. With Thief of Thieves however, there is an instant hook.

That hook involves the world's greatest thief becoming fed up with the job at hand and the life he's living. There's also just a heavy focus on characters. It was nice to have a book filled with very realized and interesting characters. Kirkman's story and Spencer's script together have a very cinematic feel to it, which makes it easy to imagine on the big screen. The snappy back and forth repartee between Paulson, also known as Redmond (his thief name), and his protege Celia is both funny and believable. There are some similarities to things like David Mamet's film The Heist with the framing and the cuts to each character's backstory, but there's a much lighter edge to this one. That is mainly due to Spencer's involvement, I would imagine. He enjoys brevity and humor in his dialogue which are tools, when used wisely (like here), help a story go that extra mile.

Martinbrough's artwork for the book is right on target as well. Like Sean Phillips on Criminal, Martinbrough's style embodies what we want in our crime titles: Heavy lines and grittiness and instantly recognizable characters that look as if they could be the guy who's walking down the street next to you. That sense of realism is such a key thing and he nails it.

The book isn't all gangbusters, as there are a few issues here and there. The most notable being whether or not Kirkman and Spencer can make the pacing of the story flow through the issues as easily as if they had released it as a single graphic novel. Still, the first issue is very satisfying. If you're in the mood for a bit of crime or just enjoy a good caper tale, Thief of Thieves more than easily fits the bill.

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