A Spectacular Finish For Shanghai Red #5

by Josh Davison

[*Mild Spoilers Ahead!]

Red has come back to the Senate, the bar owned by Elizabeth. Red is ready to strike back at Elizabeth for her involvement in Portland’s shanghaiing industry. However, the police surround the Senate, and Red, now fully embracing the Jack persona, has a different target in mind and must prioritize him: Bunco Kelly. The girls of the Senate help Jack arm up, and he strikes out to bring Bunco Kelly down once and for all. Kelly has plenty of men to protect him, so Jack will have one last big fight before killing Bunco.

Shanghai Red #5 cover by Joshua Hixson
Shanghai Red #5 cover by Joshua Hixson

Shanghai Red #5 brings this short series to an incredible and taut ending. Everything has led to this showdown, and Christopher Sebela does a damn good job of scripting a finale worthy of the story’s previous drama and tension.

The final transformation of Molly into Jack is compelling, and it’s not treated as a tragedy like previous issues implied. Jack is a persona that Molly hid within while enslaved, but she now chooses Jack as an identity. It is simply who this person is now. He is Jack.

The showdown between Jack and Bunco is awesome too. The dialogue they share is interesting and smart. It is easily one of the highlights of the comic.

I didn’t know that there was a historical context for much of this beyond the existence of shanghaiing and human trafficking as a practice. Bunco Kelly was a real person who actually shanghaiied people. I just found that interesting and decided to share it with you fine people.

Shanghai Red #5 art by Joshua Hixson, Roman Stevens, and letterer Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou
Shanghai Red #5 art by Joshua Hixson, Roman Stevens, and letterer Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou

Joshua Hixson’s artwork continues to be phenomenal. It’s gritty, deceivingly simple-looking, and yet shows volumes about each character and their place in the world. The color art is moody and sets a very visceral tone throughout the book, but it ebbs and flows in such a way as to fit specific scenes and sequences.

Shanghai Red #5 brings the story to an explosive end that balances physical violence with personal growth and transformation in the characters. It’s a very smartly-written book and is easily among the best releases of this week. This one comes strongly recommended. Give it a read.

Shanghai Red #5 comes to us from writer Christopher Sebela, artist and cover artist Joshua Hixson, color flatter Roman Stevens, and letterer Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou.

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