[Article contains spoilers for Radiant Black #1-6]
Nathan Burnett is in the hospital, Marshall has taken the powers of Radiant Black and had a no holds barred slug fest with Radiant Red, whose identity has just been revealed. Radiant Pink and Radiant Yellow appear for the first time moments before <001> joins the fray, threatening our heroes and planet Earth itself. At the very peak of action, at the biggest cliffhanger this series has had so far, the Radiant Black creative team makes another bold move to halt the action where they hand off their comic to a new creative team to give a backstory to Radiant Red; the bank-robbing, building-destroying villain of the first arc who quickly becomes one of the best characters in the entire series. Now, the creative team of Cherish Chen, David Lafuente, and Miquel Muerto are together again to expand on the story of Satomi Sone in the new mini-series: Radiant Red.
Satomi goes full Juggernaut on Marshall
At first, the story of Radiant Red appears to be a classic villain origin. However, it paints a dark reflection of our hero. Someone with the same powers, but using them for selfish reasons. A strong fighter whose only goal is to take out Radiant Black. This is a pattern we’ve seen countless times before in comics and movies (how many times has Iron Man fought a baddie in yet another metal suit?), but it turns out none of our assumptions are true. Although, both got their powers from miniature black holes, Satomi has the power of matter absorption that she can use to augment her suit, while Radiant Black has gravity powers. Radiant Red isn’t some guy robbing banks because he can, she’s a woman who has been financially ruined by her fiancé and is trying to take back control over her life. While it’s true that Radiant Black vs. Red have been some of the best fights in the series, Satomi’s goals aren’t actually to hurt Nathan or Marshall. She’s trying to scare them away so that she can live her life in peace. Satomi commits crimes, uses violence as a means to an end, and while it’s easy to villainize her, once you learn her story it’s hard not to root for her.
Being an anti-hero never looked so cool
We meet Satomi Sone and her family having a Japanese-fusion Thanksgiving Dinner in Radiant Black #6, which functions as a kind of back-door pilot for Radiant Red. She has supportive parents, a great job as a school teacher, plans to attend Grad School, and siblings and cousins who are all excited for her upcoming wedding to the seemingly perfect Owen – all in all a picture-perfect life. But as soon as we leave her parent’s warmly-lit house, the comic shifts. There are no smiles between Owen and Satomi, just grim determination as they drive home to find another debt collector on their porch. Owen has a gambling addiction. In fact, it’s during a late night trying to solve their financial issues that Satomi encounters the Red Radiant as it falls from space, and she quickly realizes that these powers could be a new tool to solve their problems. To her credit, she attempts to open a line of credit legally with MK Bank, but she’s unable to because Owen forged her signature and gambled away all of her Grad School savings. Satomi sees red. After confronting Owen, she uses her powers to absorb enough mass to look like a man and begins robbing MK Banks.
We’ve all met this guy before.
And we’ve all thought,
“maybe robbing banks isn’t that bad”
after meeting him.
The Radiant Red mini-series further builds on this origin by setting up a super-hero heist story. Satomi’s bank heists were successful. Too successful. Her vents are stuffed with millions of dollars in money that she can’t spend, and although Owen is in Gamblers Anonymous, their debt problems have not gone away. A solution and a threat appear in the form of a blonde stranger who shows up to the class Satomi’s teaching. He knows her secret identity, he knows where her family lives, and he needs her to meet him at a warehouse in the middle of the night. After an incredible fight scene with a surprise foe, Satomi is offered the chance to launder her stolen cash in exchange for pulling off one last job.
She robs banks, but she’s sad about it!
We still have three issues left in this mini-series and the heist is just beginning, so right now is the perfect time to get caught up on Radiant Red. This is the perfect series for fans of Radiant Black, or even people who may be a bit burnt out on super-heroes right now. Satomi’s story is less about fighting villains or saving the world; it’s a lot more personal than that. Her biggest villain is her fiancé Owen. He’s emotionally manipulative and financially abusive, but he’s still able to keep Satomi in the relationship after every fight. It’s easy to imagine Satomi becoming a hero if she didn’t have Owen in her life, but because she refuses to see that her problems stem from him, she rationalizes their lack of money as being the source of her woes and goes through extreme lengths to try and fix that problem. Or maybe there’s always been something in Satomi, a rage she needs to exorcise, and now she finally has an outlet and an excuse. It’s these kinds of interpersonal and inner conflicts that set Radiant Red apart from any other comic on the shelves right now. While Issue 1 was lacking in action, they more than make up for it in Issue 2. So if you want a heist series with relationship drama, relatable financial stress, and super-hero brawls, then pick up Radiant Red today.
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