THE BLACKLIST: The Gambler – Part 1
Writer: Nicole Phillips
Artist: Beni Lobel
Publisher: Titan Comics
Release Date: July 22, 2015
This just in, apparently there are several.
I’m a huge fan of the NBC television show and a huge fan of comic books in general. So when I found out there was a Blacklist comic, I did a little wiggle dance and squeed “they put chocolate in my peanut butter!” I was not disappointed, and I neither will you be.
The dangerous world of Raymond Red Reddington and Agent Elizabeth Keen translates extremely well to comic book format. Written by show script writer Nicole Phillips, the story thus far is solid and as good as anything you’d get on television. And the artwork by Beni Lobel is spot on, bringing not just the characters to life but their style and attitudes as well. The art compliments the dialogue perfectly. If you’re familiar with the show, you will absolutely read the text in the character’s voices.
Much like the show’s episodes, this issue focuses on one of the 161 “blacklisters” who make up Red’s collection of killers, thieves, and assorted crime bosses who, along with the FBI, Red wants to bring to justice (of course, Red’s justice might be an ironic taste of their own bitter medicine).
Number 148, Leon Kiklinski, is Red and Agents Keen and Ressler’s focus. A modern terrorist-for-hire who specializes in the manipulation of media, Kiklinski has made the FBI the scapegoat in a gruesome police shooting of a community activist in front of a crowd of live witnesses and hundreds of rolling video cameras and cell phones. While the FBI deals with the social media fallout and the serious blow to morale due to being framed for an innocent man’s public execution, Liz and Ressler embark on a deadly wild goose chase perpetrated by Kiklinski and whoever he’s working for. The ending ramps up to the next issue so perfectly that I feel like the next page should be a commercial for The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon.
It’s important to note that this story occurs after the conclusion of the Berlin storyline, but before the end of Season 2, so while it’s not set in an exact point in time, it does take place
after Red and Lizzy have gotten to know each other (as much as Red will allow), so their chemistry is very enjoyable. Mr. Kaplan also makes an appearance with Red that implies that Red has become acutely aware of his own mortality in the wake of the death of an old associate.
One should also be warned that this story doesn’t pull any punches just because it’s in comic book form.
Titan Comics rates it at 15+. The graphic violence that is prevalent on the show is expressed realistically, though not wantonly, on the page, and fans who enjoy the show regularly should have no problem digesting this issue. This series is the perfect cure for those suffering through the Summer break until the show returns on Thursday, September 24.
Included is a copy of Red’s infamous blacklist and a 2015 San Diego Comic-Con exclusive promotional artwork page. The Blacklist: The Gambler is on sale today, July 22, and retails for $3.99.
What do you think of Red and Liz’s comic book counterparts? Will you be picking up a copy? Tell us in the comments below!