Coming off of the story told in Secret Origins #5, Roy Thomas wrote a four-issue miniseries in 1988 that tells the story of the next adventure of the Crimson Avenger, this time illustrated by Greg Brooks and Mike Gustovich. I had grabbed the first three issues of the series as part of my haul for last year’s “Shortboxtober” at my LCS (fill a short box for $25) because while I know that the character is one of the many Shadow-esque characters (and more on that guy in a future post) from the 1930s, he was an early DC hero (predating Batman) and I have to admit that I’ve always been intrigued by who he is. Plus, while not every single comic I’ve read by Roy Thomas has been perfect, the Golden Age DC stuff is some great comics and I really enjoyed the Crimson Avenger story from Secret Origins.
The plot of this series involves the maguffin of a Faberge egg that used to belong to the Romanovs (quick aside: the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond has a fabulous collection of Faberge eggs, many of which did belong to the Tsar and his family) which has some sort of value beyond anything monetary. This is 1938, the days when the pieces were moving into place for the start of World War II. The Crimson Avenger gets wrapped up in this intrigue regarding the egg because it seems like everyone from the Chinese to the Russians to the Nazis and a Klan-type organization called the Black Cross is interested in it.
Men are murdered, Crimson is framed, he seems to fall for a Russian femme fatale, and by the end of the third issue we find out what’s so special about the egg. Through it all, Brooks and Gustovich do their best to continue on with what Gene Colan and Gustovich had started back in Secret Origins with moody, noir artwork that takes what is a classic detective/adventure script from Thomas and not only keeps itself faithful to those types of Golden Age stories but makes it fit well within the style of 1988. That’s not an easy task, especially since they run the risk of aping Frank Miller’s Batman at times.
Thomas uses all of the page and all of the 24 pages he has to tell the story. I was reading a recent comic prior to this and blew through five issues in about half an hour or forty-five minutes. This Crimson Avenger book’s three issues took me just about that amount of time, especially since I felt I had to take a breather between to absorb them. I’m really looking forward to finishing this series when I can find the finale.
Keep, Sell, Donate, or Trash?