cover image Red Scare

Red Scare

Liam Francis Walsh. Graphix, $24.99 (240p) ISBN 978-1-3381-6708-5

Set in 1953, Walsh’s debut is an action-packed, period-oriented thriller that follows student Peggy, who is recovering from polio and uses forearm crutches, as she finds a glowing red object that allows her to fly—and draws FBI interest. Alongside her family’s struggle to make ends meet and the bullying that she endures at school, Peggy’s white-presenting community obsessively fears communism’s potential impact. Government emissaries pursue a purported Russian agent locally, and tensions rise when new kid Jess is outed as being the daughter of a communist. Walsh takes on complex themes, but a lack of nuanced characterization undercuts key scenes, as when Peggy’s largely off-page veteran father, who lives with PTSD after losing two legs and an eye in the Korean War, defends Jess’s father from a mob with a sudden monologue about the dangers of abandoning American principles—one that paints violence as inconsistent with U.S. history. The story nevertheless maintains a strong tempo throughout, mixing polished Tintin–style characterizations with a feel of classic comic noir to communicate the era’s unease. Back matter provides further context about the time period, polio, and the artist’s process. Ages 8–12. Agent: Daniel Lazar, Writers House. (May)