Six issues into "Thief of Thieves," Robert Kirkman, Nick Spencer and Shawn Martinbrough bring us what we've all been waiting for: the heist. And in doing so? Well, it turns out the heist wasn't really what we've all been waiting for.
Over the past five issues, Kirkman and Spencer have been setting up several things: the heist, the betrayal and the ulterior motive. Everything comes to a head here as Redmond's crew make the big grab, even while Redmond's betrayal kicks in. The heist itself is not that interesting, although it is fun to see just how Celia and company maneuver themselves into position. No, what's interesting is what comes next, as Redmond has to deal with the fallout.
In doing so, Kirkman and Spencer take away what the reader expects (an entire issue devoted to the big heist) and give us something else -- and made us happy for it. That's no small feat. I found myself genuinely interested in what will happen to Redmond, Celia and everyone else as the dust settles, and the confrontations, celebrations and recriminations are all fascinating moments. It actually gives me great hope for the future of "Thief of Thieves." If the series ultimately always centered around a big heist, I could see it getting old quite quickly. With "Thief of Thieves" #6 we're shown that you don't need the big heist as the big centerpiece to still make the series work. Extra kudos this month go to Spencer's script; nothing against James Asmus (who steps on as co-author for the next storyline) or the other, yet-to-be-named collaborators, but Spencer's writing has always shown a fine understanding for how people speak and how to do so in an interesting way. I love the punchy and fun dialogue in "Thief of Thieves" and he's made his mark in a good way.
That's not to leave out Martinbrough's art, mind you. It's excellent as always, focusing on reaction shots and some beautiful body language. From the tense expressions on the thieves' faces as the heist goes down, to Redmond's dejected leaning against the glass, Martinbrough is able to tell as much of the story to the reader as Kirkman and Spencer do through the actual words. I love how Cohen's face shifts from business to pleasure when we jump from the intake scene to the party at the bar; the transformation is perfect in both timing and actual expression. And when we get to Redmond's surprise in the bathroom, it's staged perfectly. The half-crawl backwards, the putting hands up reflexively against a weapon that a hand won't stop, the look of fear -- it's all there. Martinbrough's drawing great page after great page and this issue is no exception.
The first "Thief of Thieves" storyline is about to wrap up, and at that point barring utter disaster next month I'd say that it's a success. A fun overall story with great snappy dialogue, and some gorgeous art. I've been sold since the first issue, but it's been a real pleasure to have the book maintain such a strong tenor since then. A good job from all involved.