Review Brew: The Blacklist #1
Writer: Nicole Phillips
Art: Beni Lobel
I love the show The Blacklist. It perfectly blends the crook of the week with a broader storyline much in the way the X Files did. The best part, of course, is the portrayal of Red Reddington by James Spader. Red is the epitome of the Anti Hero, ruthless and intelligent, with a delicious singular wit that makes the audience cheer him on even when he’s doing things that are suspect at best. The basic plotline is that Red was a top US military officer that went rogue and ended up on the FBI’s Most Wanted list for selling secrets, engaging in acts of terrorism, and for the long trail of dead bodies left in his wake. He was the ghost in the machine until one day he simply strolled into FBI headquarters and surrendered. In exchange for his continued freedom, he offered up his criminal acquaintances, but only if he could work directly with rookie agent Elizabeth Keen. There is an unknown connection between the two that keeps the intrigue alive.
Titan Comics revealed this title at this year’s San Diego Comic Con, which brings the hit television show to the comic world. Nicole Phillips is a screenwriter on the show and it shows in the story she has crafted here. We begin with a prominent community leader seemingly assassinated by the FBI at a public rally, which whips the media and the public into a frenzy. The murder was actually orchestrated by #148 on the Blacklist, Leon Kiklinski. He is a social media terrorist for hire, setting up very public scenes to discredit and destroy his targets. It is up to Agent Keen and her task force to solve the mystery of Kiklinski’s whereabouts with the assistance of Red. Complicating matters, Keen is on inactive status for failing her physical fitness test, which was overseen by a former classmate that holds ill will for her. Will she be able to catch #148 in time to stop him from completing his next assignment?
Phillips does a masterful job crafting a tight storyline that is on point with the show. She creates the same sense of urgency and her writing here doesn’t disappoint. The art, however, was a drawback for me. While I have enjoyed Beni Lobel’s work in such titles as Constantine, Arrow, and Smallville, here I find the images flat and a missed attempt at a caricature of the actors in the TV program. However, it should not be a detractor to anyone who is a fan of the series.
As a fan of the series, being able to read the thoughts of the players was a real treat. The medium of comics allows for little nuances that you don’t get watching filmed programming. Phillips has down a wonderful job creating an original story and I am looking forward to the next issue.
4 of 5 Targets