Comic Review: Thief of Thieves #2
Writer: Nick Spencer
Artist: Shawn Martinbrough
Review: So let’s recap: Redmond is an aging disillusioned seasoned thief. He is mentoring a younger female burglar who has quite an attitude. After one last job and a bunch of people expecting him to work once more, Redmond tells everyone “I quit.” Criminal Professionalism 101: If you are going to say “I quit,” you might as well tell everyone to eff off. As cliché as that last panel was in the first issue, I cannot help but be excited about what this will mean for Remond.
Unfortunately, in this issue, that isn’t much. I am sure the more dire effects of that decision will come to play, but for right now we are dealing with some of the more personal issues to our anti-hero. Half of this story shows Redmond meeting with his ex-wife, Audrey. She has just been stood up by a date and is understandably annoyed to see Redmond stroll in. The two of them peck at each other like 2 exes might until Redmond confesses to quitting, but Audrey is pretty clear in that it is too little too late. This story is juxtaposed to one of Redmond’s old jobs. He and Audrey’s brother, James, are breaking into a jewelry store when things go bad. We find out that Redmond is a pseudonym, and his real name is Conrad. The small talk references that criminals should be brand names thus the fake name. Redmond and James continue to bicker as they make their escape. It is a pretty effective way to introduce backstory, action, and characterization into a story that is mainly about the confrontation between two former spouses.
You would think that the premise of this specific issue would halt all the momentum that started with the first issue, but that doesn’t really happen. Instead, we get a very poignant look at real human emotions. Chemistry is not the kind of thing I would usually bring up in comic book or other written work. I usually look at it as something that actors bring (or fail to bring) to the characters when they portray them, but the term really applies here. The conversation between Conrad and Audrey has probably the most natural flow of any conversation I have ever read in comics. In a very Mad Men-esque way, it makes excitement and interest out of compelling dialog, and frankly, it is not hard to envision or hear Jon Hamm as Redmond. While the writer deserves a lot of credit, a lot of kudos should go to the artist for designing some very expressive faces that allow us to practically read their minds.
This brings up another point. The one thing I notice about so many comic books in the bigger publisher: they love their narration. Just endless dialog boxes full of prose and wordy explanations of feelings. In cinema, narration is usually a no-no, even though there are exceptions. It is a show-me artform not a tell-me artform. In the same vain, comic books have a visual component that puts it in the same league as cinema rather than other storytelling venues, but they do not use the artwork enough to their advantage. That is probably the most memorable thing about “Thief of Thieves.” It does exactly that.
“Thief of Thieves” #2 is a bit of a game-changer. It is not a whip-bang-boom kind of action-thriller. Its’ dialog is its’ greatest weapon, and like any weapon, there are times when holstering it can be as effective as aiming it.