The Silent Invasion: Red Shadows Vol. 1 by Michael Cherkas and Larry Hancock (graphic novel review).

October 12, 2018 | By | Reply More

‘The Silent Invasion: Red Shadows Vol. 1’ is described by the authors as ‘a science-fiction mystery’ and that’s as good a term as any. It was originally published in the 1980s and this is a re-issue.

The hero and first-person narrator is ace reporter Matt Sinkage. The story begins in April 1952 with a private eye called Dick Mallet driving home in the dark on a remote road after a contact failed to meet him. He sees bright lights in the sky. Next day, his car is found crashed but there’s no body.

Cut to Matt Sinkage in Union City reviewing an article he’s just written: ‘The Truth Behind Flying Saucers’. Hearing about the crash, he rushes off to investigate. On the way out, he bumps into Gloria Amber, a young lady who works for the mysterious Mister Kalashnikov in the apartment next door. Matt suspects that Kalashnikov is a Russian spy. There were reds under every American bed in 1952.

Luckily, the good ol’ U.S. government was there to stop them. They also seem to be stopping any serious publicity about the UFO phenomenon and lean on Matt’s editor, Frank Costello, and the publisher to stop his article appearing in The Sentinel-Gazette. But Matt knows there are aliens out there. Six months earlier, he had stopped to investigate lights in the sky and lost his memory of the subsequent events. What happened in those missing hours?

Matt has a nice girlfriend called Peggy but finds himself intrigued by Gloria Amber and more intrigued by her mysterious boss. An FBI agent called Housley is also interested in Kalashnikov and thinks Matt might be mixed up with the dirty stinking no-good godless Commies. However, Housley works for the mysterious Council as well as the FBI and they seem more interested in suppressing UFO news. Are the bad guys Commies or aliens?

This is a film noir with flying saucers in graphic novel form. The plot gets complicated and there are plenty of double-crossers, liars and sneaks about, including the blonde, obviously. The art by Michael Cherkas adds to the noir feel with plenty of shadows and a dark, gritty feel, like an old Warner Brothers film. The introduction says he’s influenced by Dick Tracy artist Chester Gould but I checked some of that on-line and Gould’s work seems a bit more refined. Cherkas used ink on paper rather than computers to produce his thick black lines and big figures with small heads. Rectangular panels in a conventional layout make it easy to follow the story. I actually liked the art but it might not be everyone’s cup of tea.

The feel of 1950s America is perfectly captured by both the art and the story. This is part one of a bigger tale but fairly complete in itself. Not all mysteries are solved but there’s no cliff-hanger. As a fan of old films in this genre, I enjoyed it and look forward to the next exciting instalment.

Eamonn Murphy

October 2018

(pub: NBM Publishing. 160 page b&w graphic novel softcover. Price: £14.99 (UK), $16.99 (US). ISBN: 978-1-68112-174-1)

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Category: Books, Comics, Scifi

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About EamonnMurphy

Eamonn Murphy is a science fiction, fantasy, horror and graphic novel reviewer who writes a bit too. Many of his books are currently free (but not on Amazon).
See website for details.

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