The Silent Invasion: Red Shadows

CHERKAS, Michael & . illus. by Michael Cherkas. 160p. NBM. Sept. 2018. pap. $16.99. ISBN 9781681121741.
This reissue of a cult classic sci-fi mystery that touches upon deep state conspiracies and fake news remains incredibly relevant. The first in a series, this tale introduces the dogged (and remarkably broad-shouldered) journalist Matt Sinkage. Like so many heroes from the noir tradition this book draws upon, Sinkage finds himself in danger as he works to unravel a conspiracy far more complex than he'd anticipated. Convinced that aliens are real, he is bewildered and then furious when his newspaper stories are edited to remove the extraterrestrial angle. Stylized retro artwork lends an engagingly surreal quality to the proceedings: pop art merged with Frank Miller's "Sin City." Unlike in Miller's work, the peril here is stylized and never gruesome as the creators lean into the sometimes neglected humorous side of the noir tradition. Sinkage faces off against a murderers' row of increasingly frightening and bizarre opponents, including communist spies, corrupt FBI agents, and a mysterious government organization. Cherkas and Hancock's storytelling and art blend seamlessly, creating a portmanteau of science fiction, mystery, and golden age comics. Their hero's endless struggles to investigate his story are similar to challenges faced by DC and Marvel's cadre of journalists such as Clark Kent, Peter Parker, and Lois Lane.
VERDICT A lively tale sure to entice teens with an interest in conspiracy theories, UFOs, classic comics, sci-fi, and good old-fashioned adventure stories.

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