New Image: Hustling The Thief of Thieves

There is absolutely no chance whatsoever that I won’t at some point get the i and e of thieves mixed up at some point during this review. Theif of Theives is a new #1 from Image comics, released this week. The idea behind the creation of the series seems to be something Image are pushing towards: they take one of the A-List writers, like Robert Kirkman, and have him plot a book for one of their other writers to pick up and run with, adding their own dialogue and character beats to the narrative. In this case, Kirkman is plotting the book while Nick Spencer, from off of Morning Glories and several other Image titles, scripts. It seems like a clever way for Image to promote two of their wrters at once. Fans of Walking Dead and Invincible will recognise Kirkman’s name and pick up the book, and if they like it they might be more tempted in future to pick up some of Spencer’s comics.

Close in style to the TV show Hustle (this is a heist comic) Thief of Thieves jumps around with the timeframe in true television tradition in order to keep the readers five steps behind the characters. This being a first issue, Spencer is left the job of getting a lot of exposition into the story without it feeling forced, and uses the jumps through time to do so. Instead of the characters saying “remember that time we…”, Spencer simply jumps to the time thet actually did it, so we can experience it for ourselves. At first the jumps throw the reader off and are a little confusing, but once we start to understand who is working for whom, things become a lot more enjoyable.

Another reference for the comic seems to be Burn Notice, as some of the most effective parts of the comic are essentially Nick Spencer telling us how to jack a car. Although the main character here, Redmond, is a lot more jaded than any thief you ever see on TV, his presence does have an immediate charisma, and you can see how he manages to get away with all the things he does. To this extent, artist Shawn Martinborough helps things immensely. Superb at drawing steely gazes, Martinborough also throws in some fun perspective shifts to keep the conversation scenes flowing, and colourist Felix Serrano creates a startling visual style for the comic. The last three pages, in particular, benefit from some dynamic colouring which makes Martinborough’s expressive art pop from the page.

The last page is really good fun, too. With entertaining dialogue, an interesting plot and clever last page, Thief of Thieves looks like a comic worth sticking with. A Heist Comic lives or dies on the strength of the actual heist, but Kirkman and Spencer have set things up very nicely. The letter by Kirkman, which follows the comic and explains his reasons for creating it, is not very good, however. We advise you skip it, because… it’s kinda obnoxious. Superhero comics can be dynamic and fresh and new, and just because you don’t like them doesn’t automatically make them staid and insipid. AND THAT’S TOLD YOU!

Oh dead. I get the feeling like Robert Kirkman just tricked me into furthering the debate about superhero comics.

But, ahem, yes. Thief of Thieves: rather good comic. It doesn’t so anything to revolutionise the way this sort of story is done, but it’s slick, professional, and we’re looking forward to issue 2.


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