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Thief of Thieves Volume 1: I Quit by Travelling Man

Thief of Thieves

Volume 1: ‘I Quit’

Created by Robert Kirkman

Written by Nick Spencer

Art by Shawn Martinborough

Letters by Rus Wooton

Colors by Felix Serrano

Published by Image Comics

£10.99

I love the first two Ocean’s Eleven movies. Not Ocean’s Twelve, that’s rubbish, but Out of Sight and Ocean’s Eleven are both great. You see, as far as I’m concerned, Out of Sight is also a Danny Ocean story. There’s the same director, the same music, the same vibe and the same leading man; suave, debonair, looks really good in a coffee advert. Danny Ocean is the definitive gentleman thief of the final years of the 20th century and any time George Clooney plays a thief on screen, as far as I’m concerned, he’s Danny Ocean. It’s like my theory that every character Jason Statham plays is exactly the same man, or a relative of his, but that’s a story the world is not yet ready for. Sort of like The Giant Rat of Sumatra, just with more punching.

Thief of Thieves on the other hand is a story the world most definitively is ready for. Redmond is the best thief on the planet, a man for whom nothing is untouchable, nothing unreachable. He’s Raffles the Cracksman crossed with the Pink Panther and Danny Ocean. He’s the epitome of cool, short hair, good suits,elegant stubble, smart way to him. You can hear Clooney saying his lines. He even has a gloriously nasty, ebullient female sidekick called Celia who has Eliza Dushku’s name all over her and a ‘job’ working as a thief on tap to a millionaire patron who provides him with everything from cover story to staff.

But Redmond is a name, an empty suit.

He’s really Conrad Paulson, a career criminal with a grown son with all his ambition and none of his talent, an ex-wife/ex-getaway driver who wants him out of her life and a police office so close to catching him that she  lets herself in and makes them both breakfast. Redmond has it all, Paulson has it all to lose.

Oh and on the eve of the biggest job of his career, Redmond has decided to quit. So, no pressure.

Created by Robert Kirkman, Thief of Thieves will rotate writers arc by arc. This first one is written by Nick Spencer and anyone who’s followed his other stuff can see the same lightness of touch in dialogue as in his other work. The first few pages alone tell you everything you need to know about Redmond and Celia’s friendship whilst the constant flashbacks are subtitled in a manner which will make all Quantum and Woody fans happy (So that’s me and my friend Stuart then). This is comic as three card monte, Spencer showing us all the cards then inviting us to find the lady only for it to appear someone else entirely. It’s deft, elegant and weirdly for a comic about theft, completely honest. Shawn Martinborough has a deft hand with character design and the fact that the book is largely talking heads quickly falls away because the talking heads are so distinctive and fun to watch. He’s also got a great sense of visual narrative and the reveal at the end of the story is balanced as much on several of his panels, taken in a different context, as it is on Spencer’s script. That reveal by the way will make fans of Ocean’s Eleven very happy.

But for all his skill, all his effortless knowledge and style, Redmond is still only as good as his last job. Spencer leaves the thief if not in trouble then certainly far from happy and that sets up the next arc beautifully. Because it turns out the one thing the greatest thief in the world can’t steal is a second chance. At least, not yet he can’t…

Alasdair Stuart

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