The Red Wing #1


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The Red Wing #1


  • Words: Jonathan Hickman
  • Art: Nick Pitarra
  • Colors: Rachelle Rosenberg
  • Story Title: "Learning to Fly"
  • Publisher: Image Comics
  • Price: $3.50
  • Release Date: Jul 13, 2011

Time travel stories are a tough gig. They`re tough to review and even tougher to write. This month, Image Comics and superstar writer Jonathan Hickman launch The Red Wing, an ambitious new series that attempts to make telling time travel stories look easy. Slickly produced and stylistically stunning, The Red Wing revolves around a simple but unique premise that literally reshapes our perception of space-time.

Hickman’s hook is built around a startling yet simple idea that time is not in fact linear as popular perception would have us believe but disc-shaped, and so intrinsically excludes the possibility of those confusing, annoying sci-fi conventions called paradoxes. In layman`s terms, this means Michael J. Fox could have indeed been his own dad in Back to the Future

Setting the disturbing comedic potential of Hickman`s elegantly simple premise aside, the absence of paradoxes allows for a myriad of practical time travel applications. In the world of The Red Wing, this means the capability of fighting a war throughout the ages. While I’m uncertain as to the practical benefits of waging battles across history, especially when the absence of paradoxes would suggest a stagnant, unchanging past that has no physical impact on the present, I’m also no theoretical physicist. I’ll trust to Hickman’s handle on his particular brand of rubber science to explore this conundrum in future issues. My head hurts just thinking about it.

To his credit, Hickman doesn’t waste an inordinate amount of time setting forth the finer points of time travel. For the purposes of his plot (and this review, for that matter), any potentially beneficial applications of time travel have been marginalized in favour of a seemingly expedient new style of warfare. It must be said, this is a point not lost on the characters in the book. Taking a page from Joe Haldeman’s classic The Forever War, Hickman’s protagonists lament the futility of war and the squandered potential of what should have been a watershed technological development for the human race.

Such an original premise deserves a distinctive visual tone, a quality artist Nick Pitarra brings to The Red Wing with his European-influenced design sense and sparse linework. Capable of depicting grandiose time-bending chase scenes one moment and intense character beats the next, Pitarra brings a wealth of visual storytelling craft to his pages. His page construction, while dynamic and paced for dramatic effect, is clear and easy to follow, traits that cannot be underestimated in a comic in which time is so fluid.

A fun read, reminiscent of eighties Heavy Metal Euro sci-fi, it still remains to be seen whether or not The Red Wing’s singular interpretation of temporal physics holds up in the long run but that’s the cool thing about comic book rubber science. It only has to make sense for so long. In The Red Wing’s case at least, it would seem that time – and the talents of Jonathan Hickman – are on its side.

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  • Bart Croonenborghs

    Bart Croonenborghs Jul 15, 2011 at 5:24am

    Great review and mirrored my own reservations about Hickman's version of time travel but as you said, it's only book 1. Great read.

  • Jason Wilkins

    Jason Wilkins Jul 15, 2011 at 7:25pm

    Thanks Bart :) I've been wondering if the line "That's how we lost the 21st century" eludes to why Hickman went down this route. Maybe we're not being literal enough. Perhaps individual eras are the spoils? It'll be neat to see where he takes this whatever the case.

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