Shanghai Red #4 picks up right where the previous one left off, with Red running down another hold in the ground through the same tunnels she was first kidnapped from, eliminating each person in an almost Batman-like manner. Soon after, though, Red comes face to face with Mr. Sullivan, a politician who apparently ordered all of the kidnappings. Except that he isn’t. The real man responsible is Bunco Kelly, an infamous character in this city. Of course, Red can never let things be, and after a bloody fistfight, a showdown between the cops and the working girls at Liz’s is about to brew.
So much happening in one issue, clearing up the cliffhanger from last month, revealing a twist that, in all fairness, everyone should have seen coming, and setting up a finale that will leave everyone’s lives changed forever, and yet nothing feels rushed. Everything happens in its own natural way. It’s a testament to Christopher Sebela’s storytelling that everything feels like it’s at the speed it should be going. Perhaps that’s because this is a limited series and having a clear ending with a defined outcome helps to make everything seem natural. Too often, comic books often use up an issue to either set up a story or quickly end things to make room for the next chapter. Here, Sebela tells his story the way he wants to; Red’s story has an ending and whether that ending is a tragedy or triumph is soon to be revealed.
Of course, this being a comic book and all, this story wouldn’t be half as successful if it wasn’t for the art. This is a dark story, and the illustrations and coloring reflect that well. The use of shadows thrown throughout are the highlight of this issue. This is a dark story in a dark setting, and the shadows control everything here. The brief glimpses of color that we do get are either muddled, monotone, or red. Rarely do we get to see the colors that the light shows us, and it’s in this minimalistic divide that we transport ourselves into this story.
One fault that should be seen is the use of the twist; there’s nothing wrong with a twist in the ending (See The Sixth Sense by M. Night Shyamalan.), but only if it’s done in the right way. (See any other movie by Shyamalan.) Here, learning that the big bad isn’t actually the big bad feels a little too easy. Sure, having an unseen bad guy be the real villain of the entire series can work, but when it’s used here, it feels a little too much like a cliché, almost as if it was used just to make the story that much longer.
This doesn’t dampen the overall story, mind you, but it does leave one wanting just a little bit more. Perhaps there’s an even bigger reveal at the end that has yet to be revealed. Regardless of that fact, Shanghai Red #4 is a fantastic penultimate chapter to the revenge story of Red and her quest for vengeance.
Creative Team: Christopher Sebela (writer), Josh Hixson (artist), Hasaan Otsmane-Elhaou (Letters), Andrea Shockling (Editorial Assistant)
Publisher: Image Comics
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