Comic Review: Thief of Thieves #3
Writer: Nick Spencer
Artist: Shawn Martinbrough
There is only so much I can say about Thief of Thieves before I start getting repetitive. Yes, this issue continues to use dialog-less series of images that go above and beyond what any of its peers are doing as far as depicting emotional resonance. And yes, it is also successfully using the art of conversation as a stand-in for the fast-paced violence most comics jump for. For those reasons alone, Thief of Thieves is worth picking up. And it is worth repeating how great it is at doing both.
This new issue starts off with a page of wordless panels of Conrad watching his son chase fireflies. It is striking and poignant scene. The next panel is a zoomed in look at Conrad’s open eye, implying he is waking from a dream. Thief of Thieves is strangely cinematic that way. Conrad wakes up to find a woman making him breakfast. She is sassy and sarcastic, and Conrad refers to her as Agent Cohen. It turns out she is an FBI agent tracking Redmond (Conrad’s thief brand name). She goes on to explain that she knows Remond and Conrad are the same person, she just cannot prove it yet. The two go on to ping-pong friendly banter in a very amusing and flirtatious scene. The dialog is so pinpoint though that you can feel the tension slowly build until the two of them are done flirting and change gears to full on passive aggressive rivalry.
Agent Cohen is obviously a glutton for punishment. First of all, she and Conrad seem to have a booty call history. On top of that, she has that trademark distaste of authority that allows her to casually ignore her superior’s phone calls as well as her instructions when she goes off the reservation to get a warrant. Her superior is working from home saving her son’s action figures from death by scissors and trying to kick him out of the kitchen while she conducts bureau business. Agent Cohen and her superior are the perfect examples of what makes Thief of Thieves fantastic. It is very devoted to developing a great cast rather than use a mediocre one and stick it in some flash-in-the-pan action-thriller. In fact, the amount of action-thriller that actually goes on in this story is summed up in 2 pages where Redmond gets caught, hurt, arrested, tried, and released (seemingly due to the intimate relationship that he and Agent Cohen carried on during the investigation). I am just not sure that is necessarily a positive. Sure, I appreciate the amount of time they take to justly develop their characters and keep some semblance of dramatic integrity, but this does not need to come at the expense of action. Three issues in and it still kind of feels like groundwork. The series has been described by its creators as a “story about loss.” The terrific 2nd issue made that clear, but the other 2 seem to squander some of the opportunities.
Thief of Thieves #3 is not the same standout issue as #2 but carries on a similar quality for the first issue. Unfortunately, what made Thief of Thieves such a standout book in the first place already seems to be weighing it down. I hope they figure out the balance soon. And Kirkman and Spencer definitely now how to make a final page that leaves readers wanting more.