If I had to compare "Thief of Thieves" #16 to a film, it would be the remake of "Ocean's 11." Not just because both are heist stories, but rather because Andy Diggle and Shawn Martinbrough capture that perfect mixture of suspense, danger and entertainment as they carefully set up each piece for what's about to go down.
Diggle's been the lucky writer to finally tackle the infamous Venice job, a planned heist that's been hinted at since the start of the series. Along with co-plotting from Robert Kirkman and James Asmus, Diggle is carefully aligning Conrad and the rest of his posse in the early stages of what promises to be an epic grab, even as Agent Cohen and the local Venetians start moving against him.
One of the things that makes "Thief of Thieves" so much fun is that readers ultimately can't trust anyone. The second Cohen lands in Venice and is greeted by a member of the local police force, there's that little voice in the back of your head asking, "Is he for real?" And that's something that's true for every character; Diggle's built up an atmosphere where no one is a safe bet, not even Conrad himself, and waiting for a double-cross that may or may not happen is both gripping and entertaining. It's also nice that Conrad's heir apparent Celia is back in the mix; her relationship with Conrad was one of my favorite elements of the first storyline, and her presence has been missed. I like that Conrad confides in her at a level that we don't get with anyone else, and it's what helps keep the reader engaged by giving that special "in" that doesn't exist elsewhere.
Martinbrough's art looks excellent as ever. I love how he draws people; everyone has their own unique face and posture, and in a book that can't fall back on special outfits to keep everyone distinct, Martinbrough makes the cast look like a group of real people, not just generic bodies. Even the backgrounds are carefully designed, from a charnel pit of bones to a decrepit and crumbling warehouse used as a staging zone. "Thief of Thieves" even makes me a little wistful to return to Venice, and I appreciate Martinbrough's efforts to evoke those feelings. Add in Felix Serrano's colors that pop off the page, and this is one handsome comic.
"Thief of Thieves" #16 is another strong installment of a fun series. There are lots of little bits peppered throughout -- double-crosses, the increasingly dire situation that Augustus is in, and the big question on how Conrad's ex-wife is involved in it all -- and it sets everything up perfectly for the next chapter. "Thief of Thieves" continues to provide fun from start to finish.