This week saw the debut of a promising new series titled Thief of Thieves from Image Comics and Robert Kirkman’s Skybound imprint. Thief of Thieves is unique, because not only is the story from Robert Kirkman (who writes an obscure little book you might have heard about called The Walking Dead), but it is also written by another big name in comics, Nick Spencer (Morning Glories and the excellent Infinite Vacation). Even though I wouldn’t have counted the heist genre as one of my favorites, I have faith in the creators and picked up this first issue without any hesitation whatsoever. So did Thief of Thieves pick our pockets, or is it more like the big score after a lifetime of bank jobs? Let’s find out.
Thief of Thieves starts out on a cruise ship. It appears that a thief named Redmond has bungled a heist involving a pearl secured in a safe deposit box on board the ship. Rappelling into a circle of armed guards does not make for a clean escape. Needless to say, the “Countess” that owns said pearl is less than pleased when a search of her safe and Redmond does not lead to the recovery of this treasure. The Countess has her own way of extracting information, and if the ship’s captain doesn’t like it, she is more than happy to take Redmond home to her own country where her interrogation methods will not be questioned. Is Redmond in over his head, or is something bigger at work here?
The story flashes back to tell the tale of how Redmond met a woman named Celia while she was attempting to steal his car. In a very entertaining sequence, Redmond hips Celia on the finer points of automobile theft. The writing during this segment seems so informed, one briefly wonders if Kirkman and Spencer have a secret nightlife committing grand theft auto crimes.
The young would be thief is clearly in over her head, but instead of throwing in the towel she decides that what she really needs is a mentor. Any guesses on who she has in mind to show her the ins and out of a life of crime?
When the main story continues, Celia is harassing Redmond about a big “Venice job” that he seems reluctant about. You get the feeling that Redmond is burnt out, but Celia seems oblivious or unfazed by this fact. In fact, she has set up a surprise meeting with the backers of the “Venice job.” How will Redmond react to this development (you’ll find out in this issue, so I don’t want to spoil it here)?
I freely admit that this genre isn’t my favorite. I did, however, completely enjoy this comic on every level. No spandex or convoluted plots will be found here, just a rock solid tale being told by very capable storytellers. Thief of Thieves is an excellent mash-up of Kirkman’s creativity and Spencer’s wonderful knack for writing convincing dialogue and conveying characters. At no point do the characters feel contrived and one dimensional. Just from this first issue we already have a good feel for who Redmond and Celia are as characters. The pacing is steady and engaging – this first issue just flies by quickly, and most importantly it was fun.
Shawn Martinbrough has worked on a variety of comics for Marvel and DC/Vertigo, including work on The Losers and Batman, and handles art duties here in Thief of Thieves. His art in this title is very clean and quite pleasing. If pressed to compare it to something, I would be tempted to say that it almost reminds me of the art in the animated TV series Archer, but with greater detail. The strong colors add to this effect. When it comes to art, very often a picture is worth a thousand words; so I have included multiple panels from this issue to give you a good idea what to expect as far as the artwork goes, but without spoiling the plot.
Thief of Thieves looks like it could be a potential hit. What better time to start reading it than from here at the beginning? In an interesting letter to readers at the end of this issue titled “I Believe in Comic Books,” Robert Kirkman writes about what he sees as the state of comics. The entire letter should most definitely be read, but I wanted to share an excerpt from it that really resonated with me here:
“You’d never describe someone as a movie fan– everyone watches movies. THAT should be our goal for comics, as retailers, as fans and creators.
I want to meet someone new, and NOT be surprised to find out that they read comics. I want not reading comics to be as weird as those weirdos who don’t own a television.”
Amen, brother. Seriously, read the entire letter and you will clearly see that Robert Kirkman “gets it.” Who knows, Thief of Thieves just could be the next comic to steal our hearts and interest, as well as help to bring new readers into the fold. I certainly hope so.