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Comic Review: Red Herring Issues #1-2 by David Tischman and Philip Bond

Genre: Alien Conspiracy, Action
Publisher: Wildstorm
Page Count: 32pg.
Style: Color
Publication Date: August 12, 2009
Author Interview: At Newsarama
Artist Website: Philip Bond

Alien conspiracy stories tend to follow one of two patterns. Either the government is involved in a massive cover-up or private individuals are. But both presuppose that the aliens actually exist. What if they didn’t and the conspiracy is actually twofold? First, humanity is made to believe there are aliens in the first place, and then led to believe the government is covering it up?

This is the primary thrust of a new six issue miniseries of comics by writer David Tischman and artist Philip Bond. In the series, young Maggie MacGuffin is the beautiful and spoiled aide of a Congressman. But when someone tries to kill her, she is soon drawn into the sphere of Red Herring, a red-haired government operative seeking to discover the truth behind the alien conspiracy. Set in Washington D.C. this story is a little bit of X-Files with a dollop of Warehouse 13 and a heavy helping of most Bruce Willis or Harrison Ford movies.

Tischman writes many elements into his plot, always keeping the reader guessing from one panel to the next. Beginning slowly in issue one to establish Maggie’s character, he rapidly moves into the alien conspiracy and the people and motivations behind it. The story has behind it some of the same themes as when Spiderman meets the Kingpin, the sort of little guy versus the corporation concept. But neither is government seen as all that great, as even Red Herring and his organization are so deeply hidden that even the less savory of government types, who have gotten into bed with the corporations, are mostly unaware of its existence.

The author also uses one-page flashbacks to help set the stage for the current story as it unfolds. These are few, but do a good job of giving tidbits of information without giving it all away, keeping the reader intrigued. And the questions above, well, Tischman does a good job of keeping the reader wondering just which type of alien conspiracy story we are encountering. After reading two issues, it appears to be the latter, but in truth, it could just as well be the former. And just who is trying to kill Maggie, and why? She is relatively unimportant in the scheme of things anyway. Tischman really keeps the reader guessing.

Artist Philip Bond has drawn out Tischman’s tale with his penciling. Bond seems to mix and match Japanese anime and American cartooning. The large eyes, rounded faces (Maggie’s is very round), and bright colors of anime are here, but so too are the straight lines and darker settings found in shows like Batman: The Animated Series. The result is artwork that creates sympathetic characters in the protagonists but engenders dislike for the evil characters. The characters and settings are clearly defined, but with a softer feel that makes the story more human and normal.

I have only read the first two issues, so I don’t know how the story ends, but I certainly want to find out more. This is a great comic for those who loved the X-files, enjoy murder mysteries that lead to government conspiracies, or like stories with characters that are normal.

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