Radiant Red #1 shows what would truly happen if a normal person burdened with financial problems suddenly had the power to fix them.
WARNING: This article contains spoilers for Radiant Red #1, available now from Image Comics.
Beginning in 2021, Kyle Higgins’ Radiant Black series has quickly become an increasingly popular franchise for Image Comics. Combining a sense of grounded realism with something very similar to the writers’ work on power Rangers, Radiant Black already has several spinoffs that expand its universe. One of these is Radiant Redwhich brings the franchise’s premise to spotlight its vermilion anti-hero.
Radiant Red gives real-life problems to its title superhuman in a way that’s usually not done in comic books for either heroes or villains. This truly shows how the average Joe would use superpowers to deal with everyday problems, especially when those problems keep climbing and seem insurmountable. Here’s a look at how Satomi Shen might be one of the most relatable comic book characters around.
Radiant Red Makes the Title “Hero” Face Real-Life Problems
Radiant Red #1 ( by Cherish Chen, Miquel Muerto, David Lafuente, and Diego Sanches) picks up on many of the plot threads surrounding Satomi Shen/Radiant Red introduced in issues of the main series Radiant Black. It begins with Radiant Red using her powers from her to rob a bank two months earlier. The stolen money still stashed in her and spouse Owen’s house only further frustrates Satomi, who’s unsure of how to properly use the funds or the power of Radiant Red. This is made worse by the couple’s mounting financial issues, which mainly stem from the immense gambling debts that Owen has accrued.
Satomi works honestly as a teacher, but this can’t seem to keep the bills paid, forcing her to sell her beloved home. While at work, she’s approached by someone who knows the truth behind Radiant Red and hopes to gain Red’s superpowered services for his employer from him. Though she boldly rebuffs his offer at first, she eventually caves, deciding to meet him in order to help fix some of her problems.
Radiant Red Is Realistic In How People Would Use Superpowers
This situation makes Satomi and Owen more relatable and realistic than many comic book characters, both heroic and villainous. In the case of heroes, they’re constantly shown as using their powers for the greater good and never for personal gain, with the idea of them doing the latter being seen as something almost vulgar. This is even reflected in Marvel Comics, where the heroes are meant to be more down to Earth. Luke Cage hasn’t been a commissioned Hero for Hire in decades, whereas Spider-Man’s early attempts at the show business life are always treated as a disdainful cause of his Uncle Ben’s death. Over at DC, more overtly heroic characters like Superman are hardly ever shown as struggling with these temptations, despite their grandiose powers.
Even villains, which Radiant Red theoretically counts as aren’t shown as successfully using their powers to better their situation. Low-level crooks who use their powers or gadgets to get ahead by robbing banks are usually easily foiled by the heroes, with their financial plight never being treated as a serious issue. Many times, they’ll simply rob banks for the pure greed of it, with sick kids, gambling debts, or saving a beloved family home rarely on their shopping lists.
This is what makes Satomi so relatable, as her actions are all toward amending these problems. Sure, it does not excuse her behavior from her but, said behavior is exactly how a real person in their situation would react if they had superpowers. The fact that Satomi is in the many times underpaid teaching profession only highlights this further. When originally crafting the Radiant Black universe, Kyle Higgins drew on the relatability of characters such Spider-Man – filtered through a power Rangers/super sentai lens – to help make these new characters have feet of clay, and that’s definitely the case with Satomi in Radiant Red. This back and forth of Satomi to potentially solve her problems through superhuman means might not be the most ethical decision, but it’s definitely the most human.
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