Thief of Thieves #2
Story by Robert Kirkman
Written by Nick Spencer
Art by Shawn Martinbrough
Colors by Felix Serrano
Letters by Rus Wooton
Release Date: March 14, 2012
Cover Price: $2.99
Thief of Thieves #2 might not feel like much of a comic at first, my initial feeling was that it was underwhelming, but let it gestate some. I think there’s something interesting going on here.
The writing is the big draw for the new series from Image Comics. Or, to be more accurate, the writing process itself. The publishers’ star scribe/Chief Operating Officer, Robert Kirkman, is utilizing his experience as Executive Producer on The Walking Dead and acting as ‘Show Runner,’ in TV terms, on the title, which, in comic terms means taking ‘Story’ credit. He’s said, in essence, that he writes the broad outline of the story and that a different writer per arc will actually script the book. Morning Glories‘ Nick Spencer is tackling the first arc.
The book itself is about Conrad Paulson a.k.a. Redmond, a ruggedly handsome, George Clooney-ish master thief, who has suddenly quit his career in the criminal underworld, leaving his partner and their gang to finish the heist he’s been casing for years, ‘The Venice Job,’ as he’s on the eve of pulling it off. In issue #2 we see more of his back story and get a fuller view of the important people in his life. And there’s gun play and parachuting off buildings.
I’m always skeptical about taking individual issues in a title’s first story arc as an indicator of what to expect from the book in the future since the story is still revving itself up. That said, the second issue was a very rewarding read all on its own. After a lackluster opening, every other scene in the issue has fun twists and turns, the kind that you can almost always only get away with when you’re world building. Unlike the more fantastic titles the creative team has worked on before, the action here is pretty grounded; nothing more fantastic then you’d see in an action movie. Or, more specifically, an Ocean’s 11 movie.
Kirkman’s strengths have been in the way he incorporates genre into his stories. Whether it’s experimenting with genre, stretching it as far as it can go, or finding odd pairings for it, that’s a sign of a good Kirkman book. The flip side of that, for me, is that I rarely feel his characters are more then perfunctory tools that move the plot along. And yet, in Thief of Thieves, it feels at times like the real genre here is good, character-driven television.
The common complaint I hear about Thief of Thieves is that it’s not Criminal or Parker. That’s maybe missing the point, comparisons to early Brian Michael Bendis feel more fitting, those other works go for something grittier, pulpier. This book feels more in the tradition of Powers or Alias, titles that gleefully try walking the line between doing an episode of Homicide or The Sopranos while still being a comic book.
Again, it’s too early to say if this is the beginning of a good book or not, all I can say is this issue was rewarding, but it’ll be interesting to see the meta qualities play out. Genre comic book writer becomes TV bigshot by adapting hit comic, brings TV sensibilities back to comics.