The Red Star is a series that has haunted my imagination for over ten years. Partly it has to do with the passion endowed by writers Christian Gossett and Bradley Kayl. Partly it is due to the breathtaking artwork of the aforementioned maestro, Christian Gossett. And further still, it is due to the jaw dropping CG backdrops and landscapes composited onto Gossett’s pages. The latter most effects were done by WETA Workshop (The same who lent their designs to the “Lord of the Rings” film trilogy) in the later volumes of the series. All together these components combine to an incredible whole.
The Red Star has been described as “Saving Private Ryan” meets “Star Wars” set in the Soviet Union. This is perhaps the most succinct overview, evoking all the elements present. Like “Saving Private Ryan” the series focuses heavily on soldiers fighting violent battles for their homelands. Rife with explosions, gunfire, guts, and gore parallels between the two abound. Red Star‘s comparison to “Star Wars” lies in the futuristic technology employed which bear what George Lucas called a “Used Universe” look. Despite being futuristic, the technology employed has been in use for some time at the point in which the story takes place, so the equipment has a tarnished, “used” look that furthers the believability of the story. In The Red Star the flying fortresses called “Skyfurnaces” and ruined cities of the decaying Republics of the Red Star all bear this same look, and thus attain the same intrinsic believability. Also the soldiers of the Red Star all bear special abilities that harken to the supernatural religion of the Jedi. The Red Infantry Hookmen have telekinetic control over their hook bladed rifles and surroundings, attaining the height of physical and mental control over their surroundings. Also are the Sorceress Korps of the Red Army who cast spells called “Protocols” and use themselves as living weapons of the State.
The story itself is an allegory of Russian and indirectly World history, recounting fictionalized versions of all the relevent events: The Bolshevik Revolution, WWII (which is referred to as the Great Patriotic War, just as the Russians do in reality), the War in Afghanistan, and the American invasion of said country. In this world, however, the Cold War was not about Capitalism or Communism, but rather Transnationalism and Internationalism, respectively. The US and USSR find their proxies in this world as the WTA (Western Transnationalist Alliance) and the URRS (United Republics of the Red Star). Though the story takes place in the URRS during Internationalism and after its decline, the story doesn’t dwell on Internationalism or Transnationalism. Both, like Communism and Capitalism in real life, are just red herrings that distract the people who live under both systems from the corruption of their leaders. The creators of The Red Star understand this perfectly and portray this principle thoroughly and with great eloquence throughout the whole of its run.
What I believe really makes this series work is the characters. Their pain, suffering, selflessness, faith, and moments of glory (no matter how small) make this series burst with the bright red light of the human spirit; the light of the Red Star of their homeland’s lore. This red light that their nation was built off of is the light of Truth, and that is what we are given through them: Truth. In their every word, action, and expression they exude the truth and fight for what they intuit to be true.
Rarely do I do this, but I am going to put the link to their website at the bottom of this review in the hopes that those who read this and maybe pick up a spark of interest will look at the information on the website about the World of the Red Star and perhaps purchase a comic or graphic novel to experience it for themselves. I hope this is the case, as I am afraid a lack of interest may extinguish the Red Star’s light of Truth forever.
In closing, I will say that this is perhaps the most incredible, innovative comic that has ever been put out. It was unique in 1999 when it first hit the comic racks and thirteen years later, nothing has come along that even comes close to mimicking the grandeur of its presentation. To those involved in Team Red Star, I owe a great debt for the wonderment they have given to me and others like me . . .
Thanks, Team Red Star
Disclaimer: I do not own the rights to any of these images and give credit to those whose work they are.
Artwork by Christian Gossett
Colors by Snakebite
3-D Composites by WETA Workshop and Paul Schrier