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The Red Eye Returns

Local graphic novelist unleashes his anti-hero on future Nazis

A bit of the old ultra-violence.” I haven’t thought about that phrase (or A Clockwork Orange, for that matter) in at least 10 years, but it’s the first thing that popped into my head when I started reading Kyle Kaczmarczyk’s The Red Eye: Lost to the Future (Zombie Ink Comics, $23): ultra-violence. Over-the-top brutality, limbs severed on every other page, buckets of blood, and the exhilaration of watching our hero cold-cock, dismember, and cripple genetically enhanced future-Nazi henchmen during stealth raids, “interrogation sessions,” and 11th-hour end-games.

After foiling a diabolical plot in a hidden subterranean lab funded by the Third Reich, our hero (and, ironically, his arch-nemesis, the fiendish Dr. Lukas Von Nacht) are thrown side by side into cryogenic tubes and left behind sometime near the end of World War II. Some 421 years later, the pair are accidentally discovered by an independently contracted excavation company. The government steps in when they find out that the Red Eye is involved and equips our man with cybernetic scanners to compensate for cryo-related blindness. Somewhere in the shuffle, Von Nacht escapes (after obtaining a bionic arm and a red eye implant of his own) and seizes control of a Nazi underground movement hell-bent on returning to his twisted genetic experimentation. The Red Eye is dropped into the field to thwart the completion of a doomsday device engineered to cleanse the planet of aliens and ethnic inferiors.

The panels are stark and gritty with a strong accent on character shading for dramatic affect and a style that’s a cross between a young Richard Corben and Mike Mignola. The pulp cover art between issues is a nice bonus, an homage to the cliffhanger comics from the 1930s and 1940s. Having recently read Grendel Archives by Matt Wagner, I got the same feeling that I was following the footsteps of a writer/artist forging a new franchise and improving upon his creation with each subsequent issue.

The Red Eye solicits the same zeal I get from a good spaghetti Western or my favorite superhero slugfests: The dialogue is sharp, the comebacks are witty, and a solid ass-whooping is always right around the corner. My best friend and I have been watching action movies every Sunday for the last 20 years, and we typically clink our beers together every time somebody gets shot, skewered, decapitated, stabbed, or disemboweled. I kept fighting the urge to do the same thing reading Lost to the Future because my buddy wasn’t sitting next to me while I was enjoying it.

This is what superhero comics are supposed to be: action-packed morality plays with splashes of vibrant color, solid macho one-liners, and extreme cases of good versus evil. It’s refreshing to know that in 2365, Nazis will still be getting their asses handed to them and the Red Eye is just the man for the job. He takes zero shit from any of the goose-stepping degenerates unfortunate enough to cross his path, carving his symbol into the foreheads of the dead so that “the Devil knows who sent them.”

While the initial story arc concludes by the end of the book, the series is left wide open for a new dystopian rampage from the future’s best government weapon. In the words of the Red Eye himself: “I’m reminded of a hundred memories of dead men. All slain at the hands of Red Eye. Now it’s time to make more memories.” Lost to the Future is a solid foundation for a new creator-based franchise. I wish I had a cryogenic chamber so that I could read the next installment.

tom waters

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