Half the second issue of “Thief of Thieves” is people sitting down at tables and talking, but Robert Kirkman and Nick Spencer construct the storytelling in such a way that the tension in those scenes between characters more than makes up for the lack of action. Plus, there are six pages of a heist/car chase to break things up a bit. The overall effect is positive, as the book starts to establish its identity while filling in the backstory.
As it turns out, the first issue of the series wasn’t representative of what the book is ultimately about. The first issue was more about a cool thief and his background. It established Redmond as a wise veteran of professional thievery. With the second issue, we start to see the series’ larger plot, about a professional con man who’s ready to give it all up to settle down with the wife and his estranged son. It’s right there across the top of the cover: “There is nothing he can’t steal, nothing he can’t have… Except for the life he left behind.” That’s the crux of the series and it starts to come together here.
Once again, artist Shawn Martinbrough relies on the widescreen panels — four per page, mostly — to give the book a very cinematic feel. That’s helped with Felix Serrano’s coloring style, which is muted and straightforward. He’s not relying on fancy effects to tell the story. Martinbrough’s art handles that. The colors help establish the mood and separate the different planes of each image. Martinbrough’s art is a great fit for this series, as he can quickly lock onto an image for a character and stick to it. There are no people in fancy costumes to tip off the reader as to who is who. These are normal people wearing street clothes and chatting, but it never blends together into a big mush. The action scene is well-handled, too, including an easy to follow car chase scene. You don’t see too many of those in comics these days.
The final scene is three pages of a guy walking into a storage unit. That level of decompression wasn’t necessary for the story point it told. There’s no big reveal or shocking twist here that needed a longer set up to pay off. It comes off as someone putting together a shot list for a movie instead of using the comics medium to tell a story point. In an issue that’s so heavily weighted to talking heads scenes, I wonder if some tightening up might not have allowed for more interesting things to happen. Maybe this is something that will read better in an eventual collected edition, when the overall pacing will win out.
Nit-pick aside, “Thief of Thieves” #2 is a strong outing for a new series that’s starting to establish itself and its goal. The end result is a comic I look forward to reading more of, which is a good sign in a serialized story like this.