- Paperback: 144 pages
- Publisher: Wildstorm (June 1, 2004)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1401202837
- ISBN-13: 978-1401202835
- Product Dimensions: 6.6 x 0.4 x 10.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 9.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 6 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,842,422 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Red/Tokyo Storm Warning Paperback – June 1, 2004
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From Publishers Weekly
Collecting two of writer Ellis's (Planetary; Global Frequency) mini-series, this is a lightweight but sporadically entertaining journey into two much-traveled genres. Red has a greater unity of theme and unfolding action, following the gruesome trail of a retired CIA killer who reacts with violence when the agency decides to eliminate him. Hamner's slick art is up to the bloody mayhem, and while the twists aren't entirely unexpected, there are lots of them. While the story's point is that there's no one to root for—the killer is a self-admitted monster even though he was acting under orders of his bosses—this eliminates the need for readers to care about the outcome. Tokyo Storm Warning is more of a trifle: giant robots and giant lizards clash in an alternate-history Tokyo that the U.S. hit with an atom bomb. Enter Zoe Flynn, an American pilot who's been brought as a replacement operator for immense, Transformer-like robots known as ARCangels. Ellis is known for his social science fiction, and regular readers who suspect there's more here than meets the eye will be correct, although the payoff is quite slight, basically an excuse to watch giant robots and monsters fight for a while. The story's fun is blunted somewhat by Raiz's art, which is detailed but cluttered and hard to follow.
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Here is my quickie review:
If you love cheesy giant monster films from Japan you will definitely love this. To describe it without giving it too much away, just image Godzilla, Evangelion, and Gundam all mixed together. The story only last three issues so it is pretty short, which is my only complain.
The art is amazing. I love how James Raiz and Andrew Currie drew the people, mecha, and monsters.
The story starts off in 1945 (WWII) with the American Navy finding a ship that is going to Tokyo with uranium on it. After learning about it the President of United States decided to A-Bomb the s*** out of Tokyo. Then the story flash forward to present day, and we are introduced to our protagonist Zoe Flynn. Zoe is apparently on a exchange program in Japan to pilot, what turns out to be, a giant mecha (robot) called ARCarngels.
In this universe futuristic/scifi weapon just suddenly appeared in Tokyo; giant robots, laser guns, suits, and even giant monsters. [They explained it at the end don’t worry]
In his twilight years Paul Moses prefers living in seclusion. He indulges in the occasional phone conversation with his friendly CIA case worker and he dotes on his little niece. And because he's done some really awful stuff in his past, he sometimes wallows in guilt. Paul Moses has kept mum. It was promised he'd be left alone, that was part of the deal. One evening the assassins come for him.
In the genre of "mindless violence" comics, RED rates highly. Except that the "mindless violence" tag is tempered somewhat by Warren Ellis's infusion of some nice characterization work. Paul Moses isn't what you'd call a sympathetic protagonist. He's absolutely an anti-hero, and whatever remorse was haunting him sort of goes away once he's attacked by the CIA. But, in one sense, you do know where he's coming from, why he chooses to exact revenge. It's one of those code of honor things. There are only four characters of note here - and a bunch of CIA goons whom Moses soon converts into dead meat - but the most interesting character is probably Michael Beesley, the politically assigned new Director of CIA. As the catalyst of Moses's murder spree, Beesley is at first self-righteous, but then he progressively gets more weasely and cowering as his target just plain refuses to get bumped off. I do admit to a sense of gratification at the guy's cringing.
Cully Hamner's expressive artwork lends itself well to all the graphic bloodletting, and you get a sense of just how unstoppable and friggin' ornery the old guy is. There's an inexorability in how Moses goes about his cold-blooded killings; it borders on the chilling. Moses sees himself as a monster. I really couldn't see how this story would end well.
RED has been optioned for a film adaptation starring Bruce Willis, Morgan Freeman and Hellen Mirren. I hope, in the movie, the CIA Director, for his sake, thinks it thru before he acts. But of course he won't.
This trade paperback, RED/TOKYO STORM WARNING, collects two of Warren Ellis's limited series: RED #1-3 and TOKYO STORM WARNING #1-3. Of these two, TOKYO STORM WARNING is the lesser series, even though the story is told on a much grander scale. Here, Ellis plays around with the Japanese fascination with giant monsters and colossal battle robots, and, in Zoe Flynn, he provides an American point of view.
In an alternate reality, in the last gasps of the second world war, the atomic bomb instead dropped on Tokyo. Afterwards, giant monsters suddenly began surfacing to plague the city like clockwork. Tokyo establishes the ARCangel project, making use of colossal battle robots to combat the monster attacks. We learn that, over the past decades, mysterious highly advanced weaponry have materialized out of thin air, and that these robot constructs were part and parcel of this. The best of Tokyo's brains have shakily adapted these robots for human interface. American test pilot Zoe Flynn, in a sort of exchange program, arrives to man ARCangel Three, and none too soon. Moments after her arrival at Tokyo, a monster emerges and Zoe receives the quickest indoctrination ever. She suits up.
TOKYO STORM WARNING could've been so much better instead of the fluff read it is. Warren Ellis establishes an intriguing sense of mystery with this series. Where are all these monsters coming from? For that matter, where is all this new tech coming from? And just what secret is being so strenuously safeguarded in the Terminal Command buried many levels below the surface? I was even expecting that Megashogun standing inert in the streets to be activated before the story's over. It's also fascinating to note the Japanese people's reaction to all the crazy that's been going on for years.
Ellis also deals with the sort of devastation an all-out skirmish between a giant robot and monster would inflict. Zoe's robot collides with a building and, of course, the casualties would be horrific. When Zoe eviscerates a monster, this releases copious floods of monster blood gushing on the streets, drowning who knows how many Tokyo residents.
Unfortunately, artist James Raiz isn't up to the task. His stuff looks really busy, and you have to scan long and hard just to figure out exactly what it is you're eyeballing. The mecha robots aren't clearly delineated, their parts blending in with those of fellow robots or into the scenery or with the monsters. I got frustrated. It downgraded the reading experience. This one probably won't be made into a movie.
4 stars out of 5 for RED. 2 stars for TOKYO STORM WARNING.
Fortunately for the review (and unfortunately for my brain), Wildstorm decided to make that easier by packing two of the worst things Ellis has ever written into one slim volume.
First, the story that prompted me to seek out this book, we have Tokyo Storm Warning. I cannot advise people enough: do not read this piece of execrable trash. DO NOT READ IT. The so-called narrative in Tokyo Storm Warning is bad enough that I suspect it could lead to lesions on the brain, and with repeat absorption, liquefy your frontal lobes entirely. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.
The art, on the other hand, is superb, if a bit busy. Giant robot action is very well handled by James Raiz and Andrew Currie, and the coloring work is also quite nice.
Tokyo Storm Warning reminds me of the early days of pornography in the United States; after the Supreme Court declared that something couldn't be considered entirely obscene, on a federal level, if it had 'literary' value, you saw magazines like Playboy spring ex nihilo onto the national landscape, with the requisite amount of fiction, interview, commentary, jokes, etc, by as many known authors as they could get their hands on. It was a flimsy legal excuse to peddle nude pictures, but it worked. Tokyo Storm Warning feels like it went through a similar creative process, whereby Wildstorm found itself in possession of some artists who could do giant robot/mechanical art very well, and needed a story, however tissue paper thin, from a known author, in order to peddle the art. Thus Warren Ellis, presumably in withdrawal from nicotine or some such, scribbled out, in crayon or bodily fluid, what almost has to be the single worst thing he's ever written (short of perhaps grade school "What I Did This Summer" essays), it was put to glossy paper, and sold to unsuspecting victims around the world. Blech.
If you can just look at the pretty pictures, or don't read English, it would come across a *lot* better.
Red is the second story, which while being better in the same way that a quick death is better than being eaten by pit bulls, still taxes reason in a way dangerous to the moral fiber of a nation. A mish-mash of every posturing, man's-man action movie trope you can imagine, it could pass for a very bad screenplay from an early Arnold Schwarzenegger movie if you squint at it sideways. It's basically the story of a super-killer CIA agent who comes out of retirement to seek revenge on a namby-pampy, liberal cypher appointed CIA Director who, upon seeing all the horrible things he did in the Service of His Nation, orders him killed. Blah. Campaign of violence. Blah, Blah. Elaborate revenge plot. Blah, Blah, Blah. Speech about being a 'real man'. Etc. It's the fictional equivalent of steroid abuse, i.e., too much mental testosterone.
The art in Red complements the marginally better story by being bland, unappealing and dull. Thus it *almost* manages to tie with Tokyo Storm Warning as a sequential-art abortion. But not quite, because TSW serves as the high water mark for what a great artist/writer team can do when they're completely phoning it in. In some future textbook it will serve as a cautionary tale about relying too much on raw, unmotivated skill.
In short: avoid this book at all costs, except for the pretty giant robot pictures.