Mar 082012

I just love what new things you can find thanks to the internet, and how one interest can lead to another.  Case in point, the Red Knight, it was written by Justin Cristelli and it was drawn by JC Grande.

For those of you who don’t know Justin Cristelli is an internet comic book (and sometimes movies) critic known as the real manos (you can find him on youtube). I was a fan of his already and when he announced he would be writing his own comic book I was curious. Now that the first story arc is complete I figure it is an excellent time to review it.

The first story arc of Red Knight covers the first three issues of the comic and is titled “A Knight Without a Sword”. As is to be expected this story arc serves to introduce us to the main character and the world that he inhabits. The story sees our hero (along with two more heroes) get their start as super heroes, take on their first bad guys and start to form the relationships that will underpin the series (such as the support provided by Red Knight’s uncle).

The thing that I enjoyed the most from these issues was the setting. This is because the writer makes the nature of the setting important. Unlike most superheroes the Red Knight doesn’t live in a huge city, he lives in a place where the government knows there are problems but don’t consider them a priority and instead focus their attention on places like New York. The reason I find this choice of location to be so effective is that it informs the actions of some of the characters, without giving anything away it is an important part for the motivation of one of the police officers that the Red Knight meets. It is also a more interesting location than a big city because it means that the Red Knight will have some problems that Spider-man for example wouldn’t.

The second detail that most struck me about these comics is that while this is in a sense an origin story it isn’t a comprehensive origin story. In the Golden and Silver Ages of comic books (and with recent Hollywood movies) the first part of a Superheroes story is devoted entirely to the origin and every detail (until some later event or retcon) is explained. Justin Cristelli however opts to only give us a workable knowledge of our hero, his motivation and his origins and I think it was the right choice to make. At no point did I feel the issues got bogged down setting up the history of the characters, we got the information as needed and there are a lot of areas that can be explored in future issues. In short, it is the perfect starting point for our hero.

The main character reflects the comic in that like the comic he is only starting out. He is a hero because he wants to be a hero, he is an optimist. It is also clear how new he is to this at several points in the comic but that doesn’t bother me because the story sets up some of the ways he will grow as a character in future issues.

The first thing you should know about the art is that while the covers are coloured (beautifully) the issues themselves are in black and white, hopefully this will not be a deal breaker for you and while I do personally wish the colour extended to interior art of  the comics I do not believe it should be a deal breaker.

This is not a gritty comic and the drawings of JC Grande reflect that. In terms of art style it is definitely an action comic. More often than not the characters will be more detailed than the background surrounding them and I felt that the backgrounds only came into their own when they were the focus of the comic. I’m not as confident talking about art as I am talking about writing but I think that the comics were most effective when it came to displaying expressions.

This is a story arc in which it feels like nothing is wasted, the major plot points and setting all connected with each other to create something that is greater than the sum of its parts. This comic displays a lot of potential in the series and I am eager to see the storylines set up in these issues play out. I do believe that this potential will be lived up to by Justin Cristelli and JC Grande and I encourage our readers to give this series a look.

In the style of Cristelli’s own reviews I thought I would change my point system for this one review and so I am awarding this comic 4 out of 5 ram chips (which have always looked like yugioh style star chips in my head).

I take off the ramp chip because I think we could have gotten to know two of the superhero characters (Wendy Harper and Been Lee) a bit better and because while the black and white style isn’t a deal breaker I do believe that adding colour would improve the comic.

For those of you who want to buy this comic each issue costs $2.99 and shipping costs $2 ($3 international). I ordered them myself through paypal and they arrived promptly (they even came in a plastic comic container with backing).

For more information on ordering the comic you can go to the Justin Cristelli’s youtube channel.



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