Creator Ed Piskor ends Trigger Warnings with his most impressive writing on Red Room so far, and there’s been a lot of excellent writing. He does the issue as an anthology, skipping around an assortment of characters. Some are returnees, like Levee, the hacker from the first series. Before the narrator (the Cryptokeeper, who I’ve missed, it turns out) gets to the next story, setting up the anthology format, it seems like the whole issue will be about Levee’s coding difficulties. So like a procedural issue.
Only Piskor’s not interested in the technical details. When Levee’s around, it’s mostly about him since last series. The most obvious change is in his marriage. Between Levee’s issue last series and this issue, he and his wife have broken up. Only since he kicked her out over her Red Room obsession, it’s not like he can tell the cops. She still wants to reconcile, but she also can’t stop watching.
Then there are some surprise returning characters from Trigger Warnings, who Piskor uses for some contrast and tension, but also to establish (or maybe partially deny) Red Room’s timeline. We’re assuming when things are taking place, something Piskor hasn’t dissuaded, but now time definitely affects things.
Two of the new characters are celebrity analogs; first, the wife of a prominent wealthy guy aerospace designer, but she plays like she’s married to Bill Gates. The husband’s name is even Billy. She’s an evil rich white lady who watches torture exhibits. The big streamer this issue is Mr. NFT, who poses corpses in grotesque ways.
Then there’s a Mr. Rogers stand-in, which is maybe the only time I’ve ever felt like Piskor crossed a line with the commentary about the rich and powerful. Mr. Rogers being a snuff film enthusiast isn’t a good punchline. Piskor confuses the matter–seemingly intentionally—by naming the character “Mr. Gump” and instead bringing Tom Hanks to mind.
Though Tom Hanks played Mr. Rogers too.
It’s a masterful issue, just great, imaginative, horrifying work from Piskor page after page. The last story feels like a final issue for the whole series; only Piskor’s doing more, which is fantastic news.