In his newest series, A Righteous Thirst for Vengeance, Rick Remender makes a surprising choice for his normally very wordy protagonists, as there is very little dialog for the entire first chapter. It starts as a seemingly quiet tale of a man repeatedly getting caught in the rain in Vancouver, British Columbia. Then, with five pages left in the first chapter, the book takes a violent, graphic, harrowing turn and feels more like the Remender books we know. I should point out that the most gruesome images in the book happen in this section and if you are someone who has trouble with depictions of torture you should skip this title. It isn’t lingered on, but two of the images will come back later in the story.
Wen is a man on his own, living a quiet life in Vancouver’s Chinatown. He spends some time visiting his mother in a retirement home, but she is his only family. When he is not trying to find a place that carries his preferred brand of cigarettes, he is fumbling around on “the dark-web” trying to find contract killers and their prey. See how fast that turn happened? That is how quickly this book switches pace. We follow Wen on a rather slow journey to a house out in the woods where he is looking for someone. When he arrives, he finds they have already been visited by the assassin who has tortured and killed them. It is here that the stakes finally seem to register for him and he flees, but not before leaving a footprint at the scene. This will be the only clue left for police to find and starts another layer of this story that further ratchets up the tension.
There is a mansion in French Polynesia where a very wealthy man with some extreme sexual depravities is pulling the strings of the contract killers. He will show up several times in this book, we will learn nothing about him and he doesn’t have a name. That is the trend with this book, we don’t get nearly enough information about much of what we see. Wen has a stash of flash-drives hidden in his floorboards and one of them allows him to access the dark-web, but also apparently lets this mystery billionaire access Wen’s phone. Wen tries to save a woman, but we never find out what she did to find herself on a hit-list. He also has to try to save her son after learning she has a son, but of course, this all goes terribly because he is an amateur who is in way over his head.
This starts as a slow burn, but once it announces that it’s the story of a man hunting assassins without any sort of plan it doesn’t back down. The creative hero of this book is André Lima Araújo, whose art brings this story to grounded, familiar life. Colorist Chris O’Halloran also deserves a lot of credit for making understated, yet precise choices. It is not a muted color pallet, but it is restrained and strategic. The two of them together made a world that is immediately recognizable, but feels slightly uncomfortable as the protagonist does for much of the book.
The publisher rates this Mature and it should only be considered for adult readers. The torture aside, there are gunfights, nudity, blood, and swearing in the book. Patrons who enjoy thrillers and suspense might pick this up. This is only the first volume, so there is hope more answers are coming in volume 2. There is not enough explained here for it to feel entirely fulfilling, but libraries considering this for their adult patrons should know that it is still ongoing.
A Righteous Thirst for Vengeance, Vol. 1
By Rick Remender
Art by André Lima Araújo
Publisher Age Rating: M
NFNT Age Recommendation: Adult (18+)