The dueling narratives of “The Red Wing” make the second issue a study in contrasts, especially when the final page creates an even more interesting and dynamic dualism and juxtaposition. The first issue set up father and son, Robert and Dom Dorne, on parallel narratives. Robert, a pilot stranded in the past, and Dom, a new recruit trying to live up to his father’s reputation as one of the best pilots of the time travel fighters humanity uses to fight its war. Both are struggling to get where they want to be: for Robert, it’s home; for Dom, it’s a hero pilot. Within the huge concept of “The Red Wing,” this focus on the father and son grounds the book and makes it more accessible and enjoyable to read.
Dom’s struggle to live up to his father’s reputation, the example set by his best friend, and his own expectations is a little cliched and, yet, reminds us why there is that cliche: it works. He’s an easy to relate to character that acts as our window into this world. His struggle to grasp the concept of fighting a war through time matches our own, and syncs up with his father’s struggle to get home. Both are fighting against time in a way.
Robert, trapped in the past, offers a short view into what would happen if a person from an advanced civilization arrived in the past, an idea reminiscent of Jonathan Hickman’s “Pax Romana.” While Robert doesn’t remake the world to match his ideals, he does help out a little, for better and worse. His explaining the concept of war is interesting, but gets cut off when a ship from the future arrives for him. Hickman’s writing on concepts is one of his biggest strengths, something that made his past creator owned work stand out. Getting a small taste of that here is lovely.
Despite this being the first series Nick Pitarra has done with Hickman, it fits into the continuity of art established in Hickman’s creator-owned work because of Hickman’s design sense and Rachelle Rosenberg’s colors. There’s a similar use of negative space, dropping out backgrounds when necessary, and muted, almost faded colors. Within that framework, Pitarra adds a lot of strong cartooning, especially of characters. He’s very adept at capturing emotions on faces, giving a clear idea of what’s going on with a character.
The second issue of “The Red Wing” is a good follow-up to the first, grounding the story in the characters a bit more, and ending with a fantastic revelation. The final three pages make for one of those cliffhangers that dare you not to pick up the next issue. And, like most Hickman books, it’s hard to tell where this is going or what the final scope will be. Right now, it’s just a fun ride.