Review - The Red Ten #1

Mysteries and whodunnits aren't quite the popular stories they used to be. There's certainly little room for them in comics it seems, despite comics "growing up" and tackling broader issues than just Superhero X against Archnemesis Y.

What if there was a comic that combined capes and tights with a hint of mystery though? A Clue version of the Justice League? The Red Ten #1 by writer Tyler James and artist Cesar Feliciano (Miguel Marques assists on colors and Jimmy Tournas assists on inks) is just that.

The Red Ten #1 is a superhero re-imagining of And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie, which also goes by the name Ten Little Indians. The premise is simple. Eight individuals are invited to a mansion on an island where they are each murdered in a fashion paralleling a verse of the nursery rhyme.

The Red Ten #1 opens with the seemingly brutal death of Red, a member of the Alliance. The Alliance is a Justice League like team of superheros who work alongside the law in Swanstown. When Red's body is identified by Assistant District Attorney Daniel Lawrence, the Alliance springs into action seeking revenge.

Their investigations lead them to believe that the culprit is Oxymoron, a brilliant yet sadistic criminal mastermind that has proven to be a thorn in the Alliance's side for quite some time. The remaining nine members of the group (bouyed by the Crimson Kid returning from retirement) seek out Oxymoron in a mansion on a mysterious island in the South Pacific.

It's at this mansion that the ten superheroes learn that there's something more sinister at play than they anticipated, and sets off the chain of events that will most likely see all ten of them dead.

Taking Christie's story and spinning it with superheroes is interesting. James has managed to show that even the members of the Alliance are superheros they still have weaknesses and are susceptible to death. It'll be worth reading the series if for nothing else to learn how each member dies.

Having said that, the question arises as to how true to Christie's story will The Red Ten follow it. The concept is a double-edged sword in that yes, it's intriguing to find out who dies when and how, but ultimately it's a good bet that at least nine of the ten will die for sure. The tenth may survive in the interest of a happy or poignant ending.

Feliciano's art is a little inconsistent. There are some panels that look incredible, while others look muddled. There's one panel where Lawrence is in bed with his lady and I could tell if he was trying to kill her or embrace her. The art's not bad, just a little uneven. The colors are definitely on the darker side and the entire issue has something of a black tone to it. There's very sharp contrasts between characters and backgrounds.

The Red Ten #1 is a fascinating premise. There's potential for a great dynamic between the remaining members of the Alliance as each of them are picked off and the group comraderie dissolves. The reader will learn that even superhero supergroups are subject to the same base emotions of suspicion as the rest of us.

The Red Ten #1 is available now.