THIEF OF THIEVES: I QUIT by Robert Kirkman, Nick Spencer, Shawn Martinbrough
Robert Kirkman’s series Thief of Thieves reminds me a lot of the TNT television show Leverage and the BBC’s Hustle. Everything spins around the thief/thieves and the con job/robbery. I don’t know why Kirkman shared the writing chores with Nick Spencer for this first arc of this new strip, but the story is crisp, sharp, and filled with misdirection – something every crime story should hope to aspire to.
Conrad Paulson, AKA Redmond, remains something of a cipher after this graphic novel, which collects the first seven issues of the strip. He’s supposed to retain some of his mystery, but I finished the book and didn’t really know that much more about him than I did at the beginning.
There are a number of interesting supporting characters that surround Conrad, and they’ve each got their twists and turns that are intriguing. His ex-wife is obviously still a romantic attachment Conrad hasn’t been able to give up on. And I’m not sure what’s in the offing for Augustus, Conrad’s son who is also trying to be the penultimate thief his father is. Those entanglements will surface time and time again, I’m sure.
Celia, Conrad’s apprentice, is interesting too. The backstory between the two of them is solid and holds appeal, as well as a promise of something more emerging. Arno, the Russian mob boss/businessman, has hardly been tapped so far, but there’s a wealth of history there.
FBI Special Agent Elizabeth Cohen has a certain flair, but her character doesn’t play quite true. She cooks Conrad breakfast like they’re both friends with a long relationship, but there’s no way the woman out to nail a guy to the wall would ever act that subservient to him. I just didn’t buy that one, and she remained somewhat unbelievable throughout this graphic novel. I’m not sure where she’s going to end up on the next arc.
The story is laid out fast and loose, coming to the reader from a lot of different time frames and points of view, but in the end it makes for a really good twisty plot and clever bit of subterfuge. Of course, a fan of noir and caper movies and television series will see the end coming before it arrives, but the action is played out by the numbers. However, the story cheats from time to time, such as when the locked crate leaves the police evidence room without being opened. That just wouldn’t happen.
Overall, though, I’m really pleased with the series. It’s action-packed and carries enough of a cerebral punch to keep readers sharp and attentive so no clue is missed and no false trail will complete distract.
Shawn Martinbrough’s art is good. His breakdowns allow for plenty of space on the page to show the physical action as well as the emotions between the characters without becoming static. The book looks like a movie.