In the not so distant future, the fourth rock from the sun, Mars, has been colonized. While the red planet is still mostly a military base, describing relations between humans and the locals on Mars as “not great” would be a gross understatement. Some may call this a time of peace, but tensions are high between the dusters (as Martians are called) and the humans. There’s a lot of mistrust and a lack of understanding between the two species. Meanwhile broadcasters would like you to know that there’s still hope: the first dog on Mars, Sebastian, has been spotted again.
Daily life is usually monotonous, so finding the dead body of one of Mars’ locals casually thrown out in the trash does not bode well for Superintendent Denton Coyle. Not long after, a bomb goes off killing hundreds of humans. Naturally, people want to blame the local inhabitants of Mars, but what if it’s not that simple? Coyle has a mystery to solve. A close encounter with a male of the Martian species leads him to a clue that will unravel the mystery. This clue will connect events from the past to the presents and unveil secrets that Coyle might not be prepared to handle.
Each chapter in this volume, is introduced with an epigraph. John Prine, Alfred Lord Tennyson, George Orwell, and John Banville all take a small role in setting the tone for this story. The tone is also set by the dusty reds, oranges, and browns used in the panels that are set outside. The faces are expressive. The speech bubbles are easy to follow and there’s a good balance between text and art.
So, who is your reader? Obviously, people who are keen to read a comic set on Mars will enjoy this volume, but readers who enjoyed television shows like Luther and movies like Shaft will enjoy the rogue nature of Coyle and the element of mystery that drives the story forward. This title could also be suggested to anyone desperately waiting for the next season of The Expanse to start (no one is patiently waiting).
The thing that I like most about Redline is that it’s science fiction, but it pulls in elements of other genres. It doesn’t take place on Earth, but the setting has a grounded feeling and that will let you place this title into the hands of so many more readers. The characters are diverse and dynamic. They’re capable of deceit, remorse, hate—all of the feels. Redline, vol. 1 is a complete arc, but there is enough built in to the main mystery and to the world itself that forthcoming volumes will satisfy readers. I’m particularly interested in figuring out what is going on with Sebastian, the first dog on Mars.
Things for librarians to take note of in this volume: along with the strong language, there is some nudity, violence, and sexual content. The cast of characters is mostly male and I don’t know that it would pass the Bechdel test, but here’s hoping for future volumes.
Redline, vol. 1
by Neal Holman
Art by Clayton McCormack Kelly
Oni Press, 2018