OK, just to put everything in perspective I’ll give a very short run down of a couple key events. Red Herring is told through the eyes of Maggie MacGuffin, our heroine who is attacked in a Washington park and soon finds herself entangled in a political conspiracy. Red (who is introduced as a government agent, but actually turns out to be a conman) isn’t sure how she came to be involved, but he’s willing to protect her – even if most of the time she ends up in harm’s way because of his past actions. Together they’re like a (less stylish) contemporary version of The Avengers. When Maggie goes missing everyone suspects her boss, Congressman Damorge Channel. Things get more confusing when talk of an alien invasion starts circulating. Throughout the story we meet a collection of shady characters, all of whom are hiding skeletons of their own.
So, after six issues of tongue-in-cheek melodrama and candid moments of brilliance, does Red Herring live up to the potential it so gloriously set early on?
Well, no, to be frank.
David Tischman and Philip Bond set the stage with the first issue, and then it looked as though some real eyebrow-raisers could be coming, but sadly issue six failed to give me the satisfaction I was hoping for – and deserved after hanging on to find out the truth behind it all.
This is becoming a ‘thing’ with some of the miniseries I’ve read. They’re good for four issues or so, but by the end they just run out of steam. It’s particularly unusual in the case of Red Herring. All the covers (by Bond) just scream of exciting moments of confrontation or possible exposition, but really they’re only loosely connected.
The characters are good, but it feels as if Red Herring is missing its ace in the hole. Namely, the big moment right at the end where everything gets turned on it is head and you’re left trying to figure it all out. Yes, there are a couple characters that don’t turn out to be who you think they are, but at this point that means very little. The comic doesn’t do anything meaningful with characters in its climax. It’s too neat, too mundane. There’s no ground-shaking payoff, and even the more human moments, such as Maggie saying goodbye to her mother, don’t feel special.
I don’t wish to shoot it down too much, as I do still really like the art style and I get the appeal of poking fun at conspiracy theories. Overall, though, it feels like a missed opportunity. So, Red Herring isn’t really ‘comic gold’, but it is an alright distraction for those who like to take Roswell a little less seriously.