After the previous volume saw master thief Conrad “Redmond” Paulson get himself and his family out from under the thumb of Lola, it would appear that our protagonist has finally got everything he ever wanted. Well, except for the fact that his ex-wife still hates him. And, more pressingly, his former partner Celia is still pestering him about getting back into the game. After (a night of booze and sex) Conrad shuts her down, Celia makes the highly questionable decision to assume the Redmond name for herself. Thanks to the involvement of disgraced former FBI agent Elizabeth Cohen, this goes about as well as you’d expect it to for someone who was only part of a master thief’s gang. Now the FBI is looking to pin ALL of Redmond’s crimes onto Celia and the rest of her gang is worried that she’ll crack and spill her guts on their entire operation. Looks like it’s time for Conrad to come out of retirement to sort things out his way.
In the face of declining sales and the conclusion to all of the major story threads in the previous volume, I was expecting this to bring the “Thief of Thieves” adventure to a close. As I mentioned last week, that’s not the case. However, vol. 5 doesn’t lay the best groundwork for things going forward. On one hand, writer Andy Diggle makes the action hum along as skillfully as you’d expect from his previous efforts, and his work rehabilitating the character of Conrad’s son Augustus can now be described as “astonishing” after this volume. I was actually sympathetic to the young man’s plight here as we see him trying to make a go at a normal life only to be dragged back into the game by his dad.
That part is emblematic of the volume’s biggest failing as it gives us a Conrad that’s more self-centered and arrogant than we’ve seen before. Not that these aren’t new traits for him, but they’re presented in a way here that makes him both unlikeable and suggests that the series going forward will be about seeing him get what he deserves. Which is decidedly contrary to how the title has operated up to this point. Even with Diggle’s skills, and the always-slick art of Shawn Martinbrough, I’m not sure if that’s the kind of story I want to be reading here.