Remember when "Thief of Thieves" was the hot new series launched by Robert Kirkman? There was a lot of talk about how the book would use a "writers room" approach (with different writers rotating in each story but overseen by Kirkman), and it sounded like this would be the book that everyone was talking about for time to come. With Kirkman's involvement seemingly gone, the title shifts to a single writer and the previous storyline becomes a revenge plot, so I can see why that buzz might have faded. While Andy Diggle and Shawn Martinbrough are doing their best to keep the series moving forward, it still feels like a shadow of its former self.
"Thief of Thieves" #30 continues Celia's story, as Conrad's former protege is thrown into prison after a failed attempt to become the new Redmond, master thief. While I appreciate that Diggle's storyline is clearly setting up Conrad as unable to let go of Redmond's, there is something a little disappointing about Celia's time in the position being so short-lived. There was certainly a lot of potential in that possible storyline.
Part of the problem is that, ever since the revenge storyline began, it's felt like the end of the line for Conrad, and this issue doesn't change that perception. Conrad in a courtroom is the big cliffhanger of the issue, but it doesn't feel particular exciting or out of the ordinary. In an attempt to keep the book from getting stale by not falling on a new heist each issue, it feels like it's lost the title's greatest strength: Conrad performing a heist. This is a book titled "Thief of Thieves" but, aside from Celia's failed heist, there hasn't been any thieving for a very, very long time here. That's a real shame.
Martinbrough's art is solid, though, and he really knows how to frame a comics page. Just look at that conclusion, with Conrad's silhouette in the court's doors. I love how everyone's looking at him, but they aren't the foreground; it's Conrad -- or rather, the outline of Conrad. Martinbrough understands that less is more in this instance; we don't need any detail but the white collar peeking over the back of his jacket, because it's his absence sliced out of the scene that ultimately makes it stand out. Celia's fight, which kicks off the issue, is also really effective; when Celia pushes off of the wall, it takes some tricky fight choreography that might be difficult to convey in a print medium and bring to life in an energetic manner. It looks good and brings a brief burst of excitement to the comic.
"Thief of Thieves" #30 looks nice, and hopefully Diggle is leading the book fully back to Conrad and company actually doing something interesting. Right now, the book is going the long way around to regaining its mojo, and -- while I've stuck around long enough in the hope that it happens -- I'm starting to wonder when that'll finally happen. Here's hoping Conrad (and the book in general) gets his groove back ASAP.