Now that everyone in Thief of Thieves has been set up, and we understand the dynamics of everyone, it’s time for the plot to start getting into gear. While some might see this as a comic version of Oceans 11, Nick Spencer throws those comparisons out the window, and pens one hell of an issue.
The plot ramps up the tension without sacrificing the slow burn pace that Spencer has set up here. As said before, there have been quite a few comparisons to Oceans 11, and there are a couple of instances here of that movie. The set up feels much like those movies, with the characters coming in quick succession and giving the reader a quick understanding of who they are and their place on the team. Their interactions are fun, and leave the reader wanting to learn more about each character. A lot of the plot is purposely left out, which some won’t enjoy. It seems like these parts were left out on purpose, just to keep the reader around. But sometimes knowing what is going to happen is half the fun. Then we see what happens when the carp hits the fan. It’s a stylistic choice that we will have to see if it pays off in the long run. Our main man, Conrad, sits a good chunk of this issue out. Spencer gives Conrad more character development when he isn’t on the page, which is a testament to his great writing. These little developments aren’t huge exposition dumps either; they are slight nods or mentions to the past that give the reader a slight grasp on the events of the past. Now, any writer who does this needs to tread a fine line. They need to give readers just enough that it keeps them wanting more, but if they give to little, then the reader is lost and doesn’t want to read anymore.
One thing that has been a favorite of mine is how Spencer keeps adding in bits of the past without bogging down the story that he is telling in the present. They only take up a couple of pages and flesh out Conrad in the slightest way. One thing that could have ruined it was having the flashbacks go all LOST on us, with the flashbacks going all over the place time wise. Nothing ruins the momentum of a comic book like having to run upstairs and read a couple of old issues to get a handle of what the hell is going on. And while this issue doesn’t have a recap page, it makes the argument that more series should have them.
As with Spencer’s script, Shawn Martinbrough’s pencils are spot on. They book reads like the storyboard for a movie, which is funny considering the series is going to be turning into a TV show. AMC would be good to study the way his panels flow for filming the show. Characters are very expressive, to the point that it goes beyond the script. It’s clear Martinbrough had some input on these characters personalities, as the reader gets as much, or more, from his pencils. Conrad is clearly broken by his past and is trying to start making up for the bad things he has done. With the cast suddenly expanding, he makes each one stand out in a room. It’s one of the most frustrating things when an artist makes two characters look slightly similar. Then everything is lost in a crowded scene. Even when zoomed out, I can pin point any one of these characters.
Oh, and he draws butts real good.
Thief of Thieves is a great series that is worthy of getting it’s own show, even though it’s such a young series.
Thief of Thieves #5 gets 4/5.