Red One Tries Again to Bring the European Hardcover to the American Market
With just two issues released so far, Red One hasn’t made much of an impact, yet it’s already being reprinted in “an oversized European-style hardcover” from Image Comics in July. That’s 59 story pages, plus enough bonus material to make 80 pages of content for $14.99.
I’m not a fan of the format, because I think it’s a lot to pay for not a lot of reading — particularly since many of the European albums I’ve seen prefer art to substantial story. Of course, if that’s what you’re looking for, this series, illustrated by Terry and Rachel Dodson, has lots of pretty pictures, particularly of its heroine and her skin-tight jumpsuits.
I suppose part of my distaste for this marketing method comes from how it was introduced. After reading issue #2 — which ends on a couple of cliffhangers, by the way, so not a complete story — there’s a text page that justifies sort of defensively (in my opinion) the choice. They claim the system “raises the bar for quality over quantity” and then do some page cost math to show their book will be a better deal than DC and Marvel comics. That’s the kind of argument that people make only to justify a position they already believe in.
The creators go on to say “it’s the model that we love for entertainment and we are going to try to make it work here!” Good luck with the crusade, but one generally gets more success serving the market instead of trying to convince the market to share your emotional reactions. You may love the format, but it remains to be seen if stores or customers are willing to put up with it. Particularly when it’s sprung on them retroactively. And when it means that we won’t find out what’s going on with the characters until a year from now.
I know this complaint is superficial, but oversized books also cause problems in storage and shipping and sales. They’re more likely to get damaged in getting them to the stores, and it’s hard to find a place to keep them. That shouldn’t matter, but sales figures in the past show that it does.
Anyway, Red One, as written by Xavier Dorison, isn’t a bad comic, even if many of its jokes, about a superstrong Russian fighter sent to infiltrate America, feel like they fell out of Yakov Smirnoff’s filing cabinet circa 1985. It’s set in 1977, and aside from Red One coming to the US as a Communist superhero, there’s also a moral crusader killing sinners, and Vera working for a crotchety old porn director. She’s got a hammer and sickle for weapons, of course, and one of those “only in fiction” innocent loves of sex in all its forms. Overall, it’s got a good heart under its heroine’s super-sized chest, even if many of the elements can feel overly familiar.