And Then I Read: RED MENACE 1-6

Danny Bilson, Paul DeMeo and Adam Brody: writers, Jerry Ordway pencils and covers, Al Vey: inks, Jonny Rench: colors, Rob Leigh: letters. Wildstorm/DC

I love Jerry Ordway’s art, which is why I decided to read this miniseries which puts superheroes in jeopardy from the real-life 1950s Communist witch-hunt by Senator Joe McCarthy. I’ve had the pleasure of working with Jerry a few times, and I know he does his homework, so…if, as in this series, we see scenes in such Los Angeles landmarks of the time as The Brown Derby restaurant and Santa Anita Racetrack, I know Jerry’s going to make it look right, while still giving it his own stylistic approach. The art on the series is excellent, as expected.

The writing is generally fine, but I did have a few problems with it. The main characters, both heroes and villains, are well done. Where the story didn’t work as well for me was in the actions and reactions of ordinary people. After hero The Eagle is denounced for Communist connections in the first issue, we are shown scenes of people acting with hostility toward him at each encounter, as if every one of them completely believes the charges against him. The incident that I found hardest to swallow was near the beginning of issue 2, when Eagle saves some policemen. Here’s a panel:
Red Menace panel
Now, policemen are notoriously sensible and pragmatic, and the idea that these two would berate Eagle for saving them from criminals really pulled me out of the story. Imaginative fiction, including comics, requires a “suspension of disbelief.” For instance, we grant the writer some impossibilities like “in this story, a man can fly.” But to my mind, that doesn’t extend to behavior that contradicts human nature.

Other than this and a few other episodes, I enjoyed the story. I did think that the end was rushed, and would have benefitted from more pages, especially in the final scene, where the action essentially takes place off-panel. Should have been on-panel. That probably would have required cutting something else earlier in the story, but I think it would have been more satisfying.

The coloring is generally darker than I like, but to be fair, there are lots of night scenes, and the storytelling is never unclear. The lettering is fine as well. This is a series I would recommend to any Ordway fan, but I’d probably mention I didn’t completely buy the story.

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