Sometimes a good book, movie, or comic only needs to instill an idea to become memorable. Most often you see it in mythical stories, or ones that involve archetypes at least, which is what I pondered when reading Red Thorn #9. Is it good?
Red Thorn #9 (Vertigo Comics)
So what’s this book about? The official Vertigo summary reads:
There have been many secrets and many questions since Thorn broke free from his prison beneath the Earth nine months ago—but all of that is about to change. There is a woman stalking the streets of Glasgow who won’t rest until she has the answers she seeks. And what she discovers will alter the fates of two worlds forever. Join us on this epic journey as Lura Investigations gets to the bottom of what makes this dark Celtic fantasy tick.
Why does this book matter?
At the heart of this series is a character who can draw something and it becomes alive. Unfortunately for her, she used this power to bring back a god who’s not a very nice person. Set in Glasgow, David Baillie explores Celtic fantasy. There really isn’t anywhere else you can get that on the comic shelves, is there?!
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
Someone get her a teddy bear she looks very angry.
This story bounces between Lura investigating bridges and mythical elements, Ilsa attempts to escape from an insane asylum and Thorn is up to no good. Baillie does a good job jumping from story to story, developing a bit of history via good dialogue about ancient bridges, giving us a good sense of Ilsa’s rage and frustration, and Thorn briefly reminding us superheroes are boring as hell. Well, Lura tells us of her opinion on superhero stories via some nice captions, but they’re laid over Thorn’s discovering something.
Ilsa’s journey is quite fun in this issue. She goes from weak and filled with despair, to beaten, to beating right back. There’s an epic double-page spread of Ilsa that rocks the asylum she’s currently in (gorgeously rendered by Meghan Hetrick) that imbues her strength. She’s completely nude, but you wouldn’t think she was vulnerable in the slightest. It’s this double page spread (and a very cool page before it that builds towards it with no dialogue needed) that’ll make you wish issue #10 was here already.
All of the art is quite nice in this issue, aided by Nick Filardi’s colors. There’s a cel-shaded look to everything that gives things a cartoony feel, but it’s extremely adult at the same time. Together with Hetrick’s pencils and Filardi’s colors you get a nice combo that makes the story feel like a fairy tale. That even goes for Lura’s story even though she’s in plain clothes walking around town talking most of the time. There are a few pages that remind me of Humberto Ramos’ work and I mean that as a huge compliment.
It can’t be perfect can it?
Thorn feels a bit stuffed in near the end, but that’s due to the cutting back and forth between Lura and Ilsa’s stories. That said, his part in this issue feels a bit slighted due to the lack of him in the book and that hurts the impact of his discovery near the end.
Is It Good?
If you’re a fan of myth, fairy tales, and strong female characters you can’t do much better than Red Thorn.