Thief of Thieves #16
Written by Andy Diggle
Art by Shawn Martinbrough and Felix Serrano
Lettering by Rus Wooton
Published by Image Comics
Review by David Pepose
'Rama Rating: 7 out of 10
One slingshot can start a giant snowball effect, as Thief of Thieves #16 sets up the latest score from Redmond and company. What's so interesting about Thief of Thieves is that it's not a particularly accessible read, but the sheer confidence of the creative team's execution will make even new readers perk up.
Part of that has to do with Andy Diggle starting the issue by making us care about our lead character - even if you don't know anything about master thief Redmond's past, seeing him tortured and brutalized by a pair of kidnappers immediately puts us on his side. Cutting ahead to the present day, we're now invested in Redmond as a character - which is a good thing, because Diggle moves almost a little too fast when it comes to pacing the rest of Redmond's score. Trying to pull a double-cross involving the Cartel and "the Fort Knox of illegal pharmaceuticals," there's a lot to keep up with - that said, the sheer simplicity of starting off a heist with a simple slingshot is enough to keep interest piqued.
The other fun thing about this book is Redmond's pursuer, FBI Agent Elizabeth Cohen. Diggle's portrayal of the character is really three-dimensional, as she's all-business but not abrasive, driven but not obsessive. Watching Cohen in action isn't too dissimilar from your standard police procedural, but seeing how seamlessly she cracks the case just getting off the plane in Italy means that we're also rooting for the book's antagonist just as much as its antihero.
That said, none of this would work without artist Shawn Martinbrough. Martinbrough is easily the best thing about Thief of Thieves, reminding me a bit of a more realistic version of Phil Hester. His characters are all amazingly expressive - you can see the desperation in Redmond's eyes when he's trapped naked inside a truck, and you can see just how cool and confident Cohen is as she smiles at her Italian law enforcement escort. Martinbrough's use of shadows and contrast really plays up the atmosphere of this comic, showing the seediness of the story without sacrificing any visual clarity.
On the one hand, Thief of Thieves #16 is not exactly a book meant for beginners - indeed, the characterization and artwork is what shines, as the actual plotting of Redmond's heist is a bit difficult to follow. But considering the high-quality execution of this book, that makes this issue actually a strong argument for going back and catching up on this series. While exposition is at a minimum with Thief of Thieves, the sheer talent of Andy Diggle and Shawn Martinbrough is more than enough to steal your attention.