These days, nobody trusts the government about anything. Blame Richard Nixon…I mean, I do. So it’s no surprise that political mysteries have become almost as omnipresent as superheroes and spacemen in the world of action entertainment. The problem is that, just like superheroes and spacemen, conspirators can often become clichéd. What everyone wants is an original story based on this established formula. Red Herring, a new comic miniseries written by David Tischman and drawn by Philip Bond, aspires to do just this.
Red Herring is the story of Maggie MacGuffin, a Congressional aide. Through a series of slightly confusing events, she gets involved with the Red Herring, a strange man bent on exposing a complex conspiracy in the Capital. Tischman manages to throw in enough twists to the genre to keep the books interesting. In particular, this version of the classic Area 51-setup is quite intriguing. Though the story can be quite serious at times, there are a few jokes and a lot of clever satire. Tischman has referred to Red Herring as a mix between The X-Files and the Daily Show, which is completely apparent while reading. However, the writing is not always effective. In particular the narration, which is usually from Maggie’s perspective, sporadically switches to the third person, an omniscient narrarator who reflects on facts Maggie could not possibly have known. However, this is excusable, considering the fact that, overall, the plot is very solid.
I cannot say the same about the artwork. Bond has a unique style and, at times, is extremely likeable. On the other hand, sometimes it can seem almost laughably sloppy. Red is consistently drawn well, while some of the villains look much more slipshod, with eyes needlessly out-of-focus. Other times, things are colored with bizarrely bright colors when darker hues may have worked better. There is no problem with visual pacing, but I do feel that the art takes a backseat to the writing.
Still, as anyone who has ever read mystery novels knows, the beginning is never the best part. Since I’ve only read Issue 1: Blue Makes Her Look Fat and Issue 2: There Better Be a Damn Good Reason I Was in Coach, I can’t say much about the plot’s development—a key point in any good detective story. I guess the fact that I’m curious to learn what happens next is proof enough that the books are interesting. It would definitely be better bound together in trade-paperback form, but the individual issues are certainly worth your consideration.