Image has a huge universe on their hands with the Radiant series. We first got a taste of it with Kyle Higgins’ vision in Radiant Black, where he teamed up with Marcello Costa. Higgins had just come off fresh from a Power Rangers run, and you can tell that he had something brewing that he wanted to make his own. Radiant Black came out as a new superhero-style comic for a mature audience with tokusatsu-inspired roots. Radiant Black introduced us to a protagonist mature audiences can relate to, a 30-year-old with piling debt and with nothing really going the way they wanted it to. Throw in a set of superpowers and no instruction manual, and you got a recipe for a page-turner. Early on in the issues, we started to feel that there were plans for a much larger expanded universe, and we’ve got one. Radiant Red gives us more of a peek into the Radiant Universe and expands on the lore with its very own spinoff. This isn’t our first encounter with Satomi Sone, but it’s our first story centered on her and what’s going on in her head.
Written by Cherish Chen, we’re thrown into Satomi Sone’s life, where we see that it is already tumultuous and seems like it’s only going downhill from there. We are introduced to other elements of her life where she’s not just a matter-absorbing criminal/superhero. She’s also a fiance and a middle school teacher that is great at providing a contrast to the bright glowing red of her other persona. The Radiant Universe has been great at providing a balance that even in the moments without powers or super suits, the stuff going on in the pages still really matters and has gravity. Chen does a great job at making us really feel the weight of that gravity and the complications in Satomi’s life.
The artwork in this book is on par with what we previously saw in the Radiant Universe but brings just enough difference to give the book its own sense of style. The art by David Lafuente is a little different from what we’ve gotten in the Radiant Black series with his more exaggerated style. We get more of a cartoonish look with the less real-world anatomy and more expressive facial expressions we usually see in anime or manga. The art style was an interesting choice for a mature comic with a fairly serious feel. There were also some moments in the book where I was immediately drawn to some odd proportions that took me out of the story for a moment. This is far from Lafuente’s first professional book, and I’ve seen his work before in other books like Spider-Man or The Flash, and similar instances don’t come to mind.
The coloring for the book is done by Miguel Muerto, and I feel this is where the book really shines. Muerto is the MVP for issue #1 in my eyes. The colors were vibrant and perfect for each scene. Muerto was able to balance the vibrant colors with some great shading that provided a contrast in emotion in other scenes. Muerto makes the color red an almost tangible element to Satomi’s life, and I feel like the red shading or outlining will become synonymous with Satomi’s other persona.
The Radiant Universe spins off in an exciting direction with Radiant Red that shares some of the strong Power Rangers or Ultraman themes that we saw in Radiant Black. The tying of the different colors to different personalities also makes me think of the different Lantern Corps in the Green Lantern series. Aside from what I consider minor issues in the first installment of the Radiant Red series, I look forward to seeing more from this team and what they have in store for Satomi.