Sunday, October 19, 2014

Red Trade Paperback Review

DC Comics - Wildstorm
Softcover Trade Paperback
128 pages
$14.99 (2010)
$14.99 (2009)
$14.99 (2009)
ISBN 9781401223465

Contributors: Warren Ellis, Cully Hamner, David Self, and John Costanza

Reprints: Red #1-3 (of 3)

Synopsis: Paul Moses is a retired CIA operative who specialized in the most covert and violent black-ops missions.  He's a force to be reckoned with and is currently Retired Extremely Dangerous (RED) after a long career of heinous wetwork.  Now he just wants to live in secluded peace for the rest of his days.  He is haunted by his past, but considers the suffering a kind of atonement for his sins.  His only link to the outside world is the weekly check-in call with his retirement handler, Sally.  She is an office worker who dreams of getting out an seeing the world, but Paul warns the world isn't as pleasant as it sounds.

Paul Moses is forced out of retirement
A new head of the CIA is appointed and every new director is shown the footage in Room R.  This footage reveals Paul Moses and sets the tone for new directors to understand the history of the CIA.  The latest director sees the footage and orders Moses dead.  Too monstrous to live.  It's a new millennium after all.  A kill team is sent to Moses' house in an attempt to bury the CIA's secret.  Ordering the kill on Moses is easier said than done and he comes out of retirement to punish the government agency which turned him into a monster.

Pros: Decent story concept and writing from Ellis, clean art from Hamner, violent with a suitably dark ending, pure action movie

Cons: Incredibly short read, flat characters, simple plot, not like the movie

Mike Tells it Straight: I haven't seen the movie based on this short mini-series, but it prompted me to check out the trade paperback.  Fairly light read and extremely straightforward story.  Nothing spectacular and certainly not a must-read book.  I found it to be very simple, violent, and mildly interesting.  Paul Moses is one bad mofo and he was better left alone.  Makes me wonder if any real people exist with the same job descriptions.  Okay, Ellis got lucky when this book was optioned for a movie which was much more entertaining (from the reviews I've read).  The book is pure action without too much character development.

Paul Moses is a ruthless killer who just wants to be left alone
I'll have to check out the movie to see the exact differences, but the biggest one I can see are all the additional characters in the live-action version.  Whereas the book has Paul Moses (played by Bruce Willis in the film), his retirement handler Sally, and a couple CIA higher ups.  Oh yeah, and a ton of CIA agents who get killed by Moses.  In the film we have Moses (renamed Frank) assailed by a hit squad without any explanation.  He then gathers a team of ex-agents to discover the truth.  None of this happens in the book.
The movie was completely different than the book

It's a blood bath for most of the three-issue series with a few minor character interactions (mostly ending in gunfire).  Standard action fare with some glossy/cool moments and witty banter.  The movie was popular (helped by an all-star cast including John Malkovich and Morgan Freeman).  It even spawned a sequel - Red 2 (with rumors of a third installment).   If you saw the movie first then don't bother reading the original story.  The success of the movie spawned a series of five one-shot prequels starring the additional characters of the movie and later collected into a trade paperback.  Look for a review in the next few months.  Now I'll have to check out the movie to see if it's really better.  What did you think?  Leave a comment and let people know!

TO BUY and Recommendations: