Comic chemistry: A Marvel-ous married couple teams for an intriguing new project

J. Caleb Mozzocco

Three stars

Russian Olive To Red King By Kathryn Immonen and Stuart Immonen, AdHouse Books, $25.

Married makers-of-comics Kathryn Immonen and Stuart Immonen are best-known for their superhero work at Marvel, where she’s a freelance writer and he’s a freelance artist. The pair apparently save their best efforts for one another, though, and the most interesting work either one has produced has come in the form of their all-too-occasional collaborations.

Their latest is Russian Olive to Red King, which follows 2010’s Moving Pictures. It’s the story of a couple—researcher Olive and reclusive art critic Red—at the seven-day disintegration of their relationship, forced upon them by tragic circumstances. It’s told more through image, mood and instance than events, however; there’s really only one major event, and the rest of the comics portion of the book is spent depicting the ways they deal with it.

There’s a non-comics portion, or at least a portion that leads to consideration of what counts as comics and what doesn’t. It’s a short prose story laid out like a 50-page poem accompanied by photos of broken windows in comics panels. It’s a challenging book, enough so that it’s probably their least commercial work, but that doesn’t make their individual contributions, or the chemistry between them, any less marvelous.

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