Friday, September 1, 2017


Created by Xavier Dorison & Terry Dodson
Script: Xavier Dorison with the collaboration of Antoine Cristau
Pencils & Colors: Terry Dodson | Inks: Rachel Dodson | Letters: Clayton Cowles

Here we go again. I wrote about RED ONE volume 1 last March, and despite Terry Dodson's beautiful artwork, I wasn't terribly impressed with the story. But these volumes are so cheap that I decided to give the series one more chance to impress me. Did it? Let's find out...

When last we left our Soviet heroine, Vera Yelnikov, she was in battle with the Carpenter, a masked agent of a sinister American fundamentalist named Jacky Core, in Los Angeles. Vera rescues the Carpenter's target, a pregnant lesbian named Judith, and even apparently kills the Carpenter by running his truck off the road and into the water.

From there we begin to learn a few things that -- at least to my year-plus-old recollection -- were either unclear or glossed over in the prior volume: namely, gubernatorial candidate Jacky is a pastor who entertains her flock by showing them a post-World War II fundamentalist film called THE FARM, and that Vera's American employer, porn producer Lew Garner, is working on a salacious remake of THE FARM, called SEX FARM, which he believes will (somehow) ruin Jacky's reputation and cost her the election.

This is a weird book. It's really kind of obvious that it's written by someone born and raised overseas, because his grasp of how things work in the United States is tenuous. Early on, when Vera rushes Judith into a hospital, she's told bluntly that it's a private institution and the doctors will do nothing for the beaten and dying woman. Yeah, we have privatized healthcare in the U.S., and yeah, the bills for the sort of treatment Judith needs would probably sink her into crippling debt... but find me a hospital anywhere in this country that would simply and coldly turn away a mortally injured pregnant woman. You can't. Neither now, nor in 1977, and especially not in Los Angeles, has such a place ever existed.

Further, if Jacky Core is as popular as the story states, there's no way a random porn parody of her favorite movie could do anything to hurt her chances of winning the election. The idea is laughable, but it's played completely earnestly here, with Lew staunchly working to overcome every hurdle thrown his way in order to make this film he views as some sort of profound political statement. It's bizarre, especially in light of the fact that we just had a president elected last year who proved that you can do or say literally anything with no ill effects on your campaign if your base is big enough -- and it's been established numerous times in the story so far that Jacky Core's base is large and fanatical.

Artistically, while Terry Dodson's work is nice as usual, he still doesn't illustrate the trappings of the seventies very well. Aside from the occasional shaggy-haired extra, nothing about this story looks like 1977. As I wondered last time, where are the bell bottoms? The leisure suits? The afros, the sideburns, the wide open collars and medallions? The late seventies had a very unique and fun -- if tacky -- look, and Dodson totally skips over all of it here. It's really disappointing, as the story being set in 1977 L.A. was a big part of its initial appeal for me.

Anyway, back to the story: Judith loses her baby in the hospital, leading Vera to declare a vendetta against Jacky. But her Soviet masters attempt to force her back into her assigned mission of becoming an American superhero to spread propaganda in advance of an upcoming nuclear treaty. This leads into a bizarre, utterly out-of-place segment in which Vera goes full vigilante, maiming, dismembering, and decapitating criminals to make a point to her handler, Russlan, that she will not rest until she's given leeway to go after Jacky. Russlan agrees to help her with this side mission. The book ends with production on SEX FARM shut down due to Vera's public indecency, while Jacky furthers her unknown but sinister agenda regarding the not-quite-as-dead-as-we-thought Carpenter.

Along the way, we get confirmation of volume one's suggestion that Vera is involved in a polyamorous relationship back home with two friends, but we also find that she's kind of a nymphomaniac, with a need for sex in order to relax and stay calm when she's nervous. She strips down and walks around wearing nothing but a sandwich board to promote SEX FARM's production, and she assists one of the male performers in getting ready for his scene with some quick oral sex.

Again, this is just a weird book.

I liked volume one mainly for Dodson's artwork, but I had issues with the story and the ham-handedness of the political message. That message is ramped up here to absurd levels, and while there is a genuine mystery building with regards to the Carpenter and Jacky, it's hard to stay interested with all the over-the-top politicizing that permeates the rest of the thing. I suspect, unless I happen across the eventual third volume at a massive discount (which would be hard since these books are already bargain priced), this will be final go-round with RED ONE.

Available on Amazon.

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