I’ve been enjoying Tyler James’ series, The Red Ten, since I read the first issue. It’s a great premise – create a corporate-sponsored superhero group and then kill them off, one by one. Their superpowers can’t save them, there’s no Lazarus Pit to give them a new lease on life, and they’re caught completely off-guard and isolated, throwing panic into the mix. And since they’re a business entity, it’s especially fun to watch the feathers fly as they worry more about their own skins than how to work together as an actual group to save themselves and figure out what’s going on.
The Red Ten is an interesting character study. Influenced by Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None (also known as Ten Little Indians), the Zero issue introduced us to a supergroup called The Alliance, formed by a mega-corporation. If there are a lot of similarities to another, more well-known league, formed in their own way by a corporate entity of a Different Comic kind (cough, cough), well… that’s pretty intended. In issue 1, the group comes together to investigate the death of one of their own at the hands of their supervillain nemesis, Oxymoron. They’ve located his base of operations – on a deserted island, naturally – and head over to exact justice.
Except, not. They discover something more sinister is in store for them. And, in the spirit of Agatha Christie, there are eerie rhymes, mysterious, blood-covered statues of the group, and a lot of internal strife.
In between the in-fighting and the panic – and yes, these superheroes are panicking – we get some interesting origin stories, particularly of Red, the vigilante Alliance member whose demise sets off the storyline, and her former young ward, Crimson, now a detective with the police department.
Every one of these heroes has an origin, and every one of them has their secrets – Oxymoron – or someone else? – knows these secrets, and is determined to expose them and dispose of The Alliance.
And therein lies the beauty of The Red Ten – it really is, as promised, “A Superhero Murder Mystery in Ten Parts”. There’s a mini-origin story in each issue, plus a thread of a deeper, perhaps darker mystery running through the entire series. We get a little more revealed with each origin, with each death, and with each interaction. These superheroes are not necessarily good people – they may not be supervillain level of bad, but let’s call them more human than most people would prefer their heroes. And someone is determined to pull the masks off them and exact his or her own brand of terrible justice.
I’m a huge fan of The Red Ten. I give this series a 4/5, and urge murder mystery and superhero fans alike to check out this series on Comixology.
THE RED TEN
Writer: Tyler James
Artist: Cesar Feliciano, Tyler James, Jonathan Rector, Aaron Houston, Erik Reeves, Dave Myers, Rafer Roberts, Philip Dunne, Carl Yonder, Alex Cormack, Jules Rivera
Pub Date: Issues 0-4 available through Comixology
Price: Issue 0 – $0.99, Issues 1-4 $1.99 each