Review by Ian Keogh
New Brooklyn introduced the Red Hook and his true love the Possum, first a rival thief, then partner in crime and lover, but the tragedy of her passing was supplied in strokes too broad, this sometimes also a fault with inspiration Jack Kirby’s work. However, War Cry is a new female hero, powerful enough to repel an alien invasion, yet there’s something familiar about her to the Red Hook.
A second outing for one-time criminal turned superhero the Red Hook proves no less conflicted than before. Dean Haspiel’s stated intention was to generate a superhero strip combining the best of Kirby and Alex Toth’s approaches, and artistically this is a success. The simplicity of Toth is there, as is the visceral excitement of Kirby, while Haspiel also aims for Kirby’s conceptual energy, and this is the spottier aspect. He leaps from one situation to another, Red Hook switching from the cosmic to the trivial, while gangsters converse in portentous tones and other characters drop into lecturing or sloganeering. The constant soundbites may be cleverly conceived, but the unreality of them interrupts the flow and distracts from the smart plot.
The crux of this is that there is a way the Red Hook and his lover can be together again, but only furtively, briefly and awkwardly, which is funny and after the art the best War Cry has to offer.
It’s a shame that’s the case because The Red Hook looks so stylish it’s only natural that it prompts hope that it reads as good as it looks, but it doesn’t. There’s a cliffhanger ending to take us into a third volume that’s not yet seen print.