Thief of Thieves #1

Written by Robert Kirkman and Nick Spencer
Art by Shawn Martinbrough
32 pages, color
Published by Image Comics

With several wildly successful ongoing series currently being published (The Walking Dead, Invincible, Super Dinosaur), the debut of a new series helmed by Robert Kirkman is bound to grab some attention. Thief of Thieves is using a writing team style that’s normally seen in television rather than comics; four different writers will be co-writing the series with Kirkman, with Nick Spencer being the first out of the gate. And so far, I’m liking what I see.

For now, the idea behind Thief of Thieves is a simple one; Redmond is a master thief, with Celia his younger apprentice. The pair are working on a careful setup to get into a cruise ship’s vault, but there’s a bigger plan still being worked on that might finally come to fruition. Kirkman and Spencer have a lot of fun with this relatively simple idea; we first get to see the pair of them in action in a complete grab, we then flash back to the pair of them meeting when Celia was trying to steal cars, and then finally return to the present to see the edges of the big caper starting to form. It’s a good structure to introduce us to the main characters, get to know their standard plan of operations, and generally get a strong feel for the pair.

It’s the flashback from Kirkman and Spencer that I think ultimately sells the reader on the title. Redmond has a wonderful parental role in their interactions right from the start, but not in a condescending or bossy way. Rather, we see him instantly size her up, teach her the right way to do the job, and then take her under his wing. At the same time, it’s that last step that he almost doesn’t seem to know he’s doing until it’s already over. There’s something about Celia that lets her worm herself in before he’s fully taken stock; a mixture of need and self-assuredness that shows her as someone who always understands how to get what she wants, one way or another.

As for the big plot? It’s there that Kirkman and Spencer still need to sell us, but it’s early enough in the story that I don’t mind it suffering in comparison. I think it’s more important to establish the characters and how they interact, because that’s going to be the hook to make you want to read more. They’ve got enough charm between the two of them that you want to see them succeed, and that’s even while remembering that yes, they are thieves. Now that’s been solidly established, the rest should be an easy ride.

Shaun Martinbrough is an artist whom I’ve always thought deserved a huge break-out comic, and hopefully this was it. I remember enjoying his run on Detective Comics with Greg Rucka, and Thief of Thieves #1 has shown him to have gotten stronger since then. I love the opening image of Redmond dangling from the ceiling by a rope, with everyone scattered around beneath him. The angle at which he draws that page feels almost dizzying, even as Redmond is shown as calm and firmly in control of the situation. There’s no look of panic, no wavering on the rope; it instantly lets us know who Redmond is in a single glance. It’s that attention to detail that runs throughout the comic; Celia, for instance, is clearly the same person be it present-day and glammed up, or in the past and a little more of a wild child. Martinbrough provides quiet, subtle differences between the two time periods, though, and it’s an amount of care that goes a long way. Even something as simple as the pair walking into a group meeting give us a wide range of body types and faces; there are no anonymous nobodies in the backgrounds here. Then again, I was sold on the art for Thief of Thieves as soon as I saw the cover. Martinbrough and colorist Felix Serrano have done a great job; the shadows over Redmond’s face, the classy shirt, jacket, and pocket square, and then the looser style of art for the painting being held. Add in a deceivingly simple but classy logo, and it all but screams, "Buy this book."

Right now I feel like this is a creative team to watch. Kirkman’s idea for the series is solid, and Spencer’s co-writing has helped punch up the dialogue and bring an element of fun to the book that I don’t feel like we get often enough in Kirkman’s non-all-ages titles. Add in Martinbrough’s art, and we have a winner.

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