Thief of Thieves is Robert Kirkman’s newest creation, detailing the story of a thief who wants to stop thieving. Nick Spencer delivers a script that leaves much to be desired.
Without showing the exterior of the cruise ship until after the thieves have left, the scene is established by the presence of the captain in his uniform. This is a nice trick that saves some space in the story, devoting the first splash page to exciting shot of the protagonist.
What is really nice about this issue is the deft bit of character development that goes on. The reader should have a pretty good handle for what Celia is all about. We learn plenty about Redmond, especially through what he does not say or do.
The cover and inside cover suggest that art thievery is about to commence; the first page reinforces this suspicion. However, after the comic passes the prologue, there is simply no mention of any art theft. The Venice job might mean such a thing, but Still, there might be some cool kind of ekphrasis going with the various paintings floating around. Then again, it could all mean nothing.
The biggest problem with this issue is the failure to arrive at the central conflict of the book. By simply reading the cover, the reader already knows that Redmond wants to leave the life of crime. The supposed reveal at the end of the issue does not actually reveal anything. And the reader can deduce from the cover and little snippets of dialogue what Redmond’s motivation for quitting is. However, without actually showing why Redmond is making his decision, the issue does not advance the plot forward at all. This issue introduces the characters and, superficially, the situation; nothing more.
The sequence on pages two and three feel awkward. It is never explained how Redmond got into that position or why he would even want to. And if he wanted to be captured all along, what was the point of asking Celia for help? And why turn off the lights?
There are few things that do not quite add up. How did the captain know that nothing had been taken from any other guest on board? Did he check with everyone before deciding to wake the Countess? And how did Redmond and his team ensure that the pearl was never in the safebox? What did they even steal? Now, this is a heist story, and the audience may be purposely misled at this point. However, if series hinges on the reader recalling a tiny unmentioned detail from the beginning of the first issue, that is poor storytelling.
And the second panel on page six is begging for dialogue. The captain’s raised hand clearly indicates that he should be speaking. While his closed mouth should mean that he is silent, throughout this comic characters have to ability to speak without parting their lips.
But if the reader is able to ignore a plot hole here or there, Shawn Martinbrough and Felix Serrano have put together a beautiful comic. The blacks give the whole story a noir feel, but the distinct palettes used in each moment of the comic determine the tone of that scene with impressive effect without departing too far from realism. The various supporting characters that appear at the party are well defined and easily distinguishable. The storytelling is crisp and clean. The backgrounds are draw with such attention that although none of the locations are named, the reader can deduce where the story might be taking place.
There are a few good moments in this issue, but there are some peculiarities that It remains to be seen whether this series will be a cohesive story with a good payoff or just a jumbled mess.