Comics Reviews

Shanghai Red #1 Review

Title: Shanghai Red #1

Publisher: Image Comics

Writer: Christopher Sebela

Artist: Joshua Hixson, Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou

Release Date: June 20, 2018

TL;DR: Shanghai Red is a gruesome start to a series that wastes no time with getting the story rolling.  It’s rough, sketchy look with dark hues of red and blue really set the mood in this comic debut, and its story of revenge, family, finding yourself, and finding your place is one I’m eager to hear.

Story and Writing

While we await the much-anticipated Skull & Bones, I think we are all dying for a high seas adventure. Well, look no further! One of the newest series from Image Comics Shanghai Red is set to not only totally deliver but to do so with a beautifully gruesome fashion. This may not be the comic for those with a weak stomach, but if you are into that sort of thing, this is definitely the series for you!

Shanghai Red

Shanghai Red’s synopsis is as follows:

Red is one of hundreds shanghaied out of Portland in the late 1800s. Drugged, kidnapped, and sold to a ship’s captain, she wakes up on a boat headed out to sea for years, unable to escape or even reveal who she truly is. Now she’s coming back in a boat covered in blood to find her family and track down the men responsible for stealing her life out from under her. Eisner-nominated writer CHRISTOPHER SEBELA (High Crimes, Heartthrob, We(l)come Back), JOSHUA HIXSON (The Black Woods) and HASSAN OTSMANE-ELHAOU (Felix & Macabber) bring you a tale of revenge, family, and identity that stretches from the deck of a ship outside Shanghai all the way to the bleak streets and secret tunnels of Portland, Oregon.

It begins with a bang, and it continues to roll from there. You can’t help but respect the way it immediately sets the tone (hopefully) for the rest of the series, and it will be interesting to see how the story and Jack and her crew continue to evolve. The character development of Jack has a handful of opportunities, and I’m eager to see where Christopher Sebela takes her as Shanghai Red develops.

Shanghai Red


I won’t lie, the artwork is what first seriously drew me into this sea-faring venture. Its roughness has an odd beauty to it that makes even the darkest of moments a beautiful opportunity. The page pictured above was probably one of my favorites, aside from maybe the cover. Pages of the comic are full of these thoughtful transitions from warmer colors to cooler colors, illustrated in the page pictured above.

All in all, the use of color is just tremendous. The use of reds and blues in a somewhat unconventional way lend a really interesting look to each page. Sometimes you don’t even realize you’re looking at something super violent until you take the moment to truly study a page. While shocking, the artwork really is beautiful, and I am looking forward to the unique mix of beauty and brutality that Joshua Hixson and Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou have created.

Shanghai Red

Final Thoughts on Shanghai Red #1

Rating: 5 out of 5

If the rest of the series is anything like the first issue of Shanghai Red, this won’t be a tale for the weak of heart. Its gruesome visuals are actually quite pleasing to the eye, and they really set the mood for the world as a whole. For me, the artwork is the strongest thing about Shanghai Red, and that’s saying something because of how well everything works together. It’s an emotionally charged story, and I can’t wait to see what happens next!

Shanghai Red #2 sets sail on July 25, 2018, at your favorite comic book shop or digitally!

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