|Major WM Releaser
Device: dell axim
(Click to go to the release post)Writer(s)
: Joe Casey
(Click to see other books from this writer released on this site)Review source
: Patrick Tobin
(Don't click it, read the review here...
) " As things get stranger, and they almost certainly will, the real strength of his clean and efficient, almost motorik artwork will have no choice but to make a show of itself. "Review
: Vengeance #1
A MOST EPIC EVIL EXPLORATION OF THE MARVEL U! When MAGNETO of the X-Men tries to rescue a young Mutant on the run, he accidently kicks off a series of events that will shake the very Marvel Universe to it's core! Who are the new TEEN BRIGADE?! Who are the Brotherhood and what do they want with the YOUNG MASTERS OF EVIL?! And how is the RED SKULL pulling the strings from beyond the grave? Joe Casey (AVENGERS: EARTH'S MIGHTIEST) joins Nick Dragotta (FANTASTIC FOUR) for some major acts of VENGEANCE!
While the rest of the Marvel Universe is in the thrall of a Big Event, Joe Casey and Nick Dragotta take us into the seedy underbelly of Little Events -- or is it Anti-Events? Either way, it's certainly not a non-event, even though it answers, like, zero of the questions posed by the solicitation copy above. More after the jump.
Last year or the year before or whenever the hell, Joe Casey -- along with commercial illustrator turned comic-book secret-weapon Nathan Fox -- put out Dark Reign: Zodiac, a three-issue bad-chemical spurt of inspired nihilism and murderous insouciance. With a wink toward Marvel's trend of re-using the "Zodiac" name over and over and over (nearly every writer to pass through the Halls of Ideas has broken out their own version), Casey's new Zodiac handled the naming situation with aplomb -- by dumping a sack full of the previous Zodiac's severed heads out onto a table. Working under cover of low sales expectations and the indignity of its peripheral position, Dark Reign: Zodiac maimed Johnny Storm, gave Nekra a teen daughter, turned Whirlwind into Norman Osborn's put-upon chauffeur, invented a new toxic strain of super-villain fan-culture, and generally speaking gave absolutely zero fucks. It was blissful.
With Fear Itself looming in the background, Casey is back, armed with Nick Dragotta on art duty. Once again, he has no intention of playing ball with the rest of the Marvel Universe -- Fear Itself isn't even a factor, and Magneto shows up for a scene where he gets kicked in the face by a guy in his underwear. It's a massive shrug of the shoulders to the all-important State of Things, but at the same time, it's just that: a shrug, a passive display of resistance. Dark Reign: Zodiac was like hurling a molotov cocktail into an already burnt-out storefront, but Vengeance is oddly restrained in comparison, if the first issue is any indication. There's room for it to get much, much weirder and wilder; hopefully, it makes good on that, especially with a fringe-coiffed and Converse-clad In-Betweener hanging around.
What we've got is vague mutterings about some new teenage development in things: a conspiracy to commit acts of daring derring-do, starring the new Miss America and the newer Ultimate Nullifier (a teen using the fabled universe-destroyer as his totem). They're supported in whatever it is they're doing by Beak and Angel, from Grant Morrison's New X-Men, now depowered and manning computers, and Rick Jones, taking a break from being A-Bomb or whatever the hell over in the Hulk comics for just long enough to provide these kids with privileged intel. Guest appearances include the aforementioned Magneto, as well as two bits from Casey's alternately feverish and clammy run on Uncanny X-Men a decade ago: "Welsh pop sensation" Sugar Kane, and reptilian hooker-with-a-heart-of-silver Stacy X, both of whom spend a few pages naked or nearly so, pretty much because "why not."
As a writer of mainstream superhero comics, Casey is mostly fascinated by the sides unexplored. Superheroes, with few exceptions, are like pro wrestlers: inflated icons of their gender types who really lack any kind of sexual dimension. (This is different from sexual orientation; for example, while we are shown that the Kate Kane Batwoman is a lesbian, she nonetheless does not really exist as a sexual entity. She flirts, but that's as far as we're allowed to see. Most comics characters swim in the same way. But anyway.) We're rarely shown the ways in which they act out key sections of the human experience, in favor of the stuff that fulfills both what's exciting, and what's genre-appropriate. Casey's X-Men gig, for example, was less about "hated and feared by the world they're blah blah blah" or about fighting the Brotherhood than it was a series of excursions into the trickle-down side effects of mutantcy on things like media manipulation, prostitution, and corporate intrigue. Dark Reign: Zodiac was a gleefully anarchistic celebration of giving the finger to superheroes, the law, and society in general, with all of the moral philosophizing of an N.W.A. album (although they at least took occasional stabs at social injustice in between life being nothing but bitches and money).
Vengeance, in its first issue, is a mild fusion of the above tendency with Casey's other abiding love: what happens when young people stop being polite and start getting powers. These teenagers are clearly on some great mission of importance (or, perhaps more likely, self-importance) but all we get in issue one is whispered hints and unsteady allusions, mostly in the form of a text-message chat, of all things. The rest is given over to sex, breaking and entering, solipsistic soliloquy, and everything else that unsupervised teenagers get up to. Even Magneto's appearance seems a bit pale and ephemeral, as if it was mostly just calculated to offend the people who take Magneto seriously. (Not that there's anything wrong with that. Side note: this comic's audience will likely be split between Casey fans and continuity-minded completists, who will no doubt have enormous hissy fits at the way that Casey picks up characters like Angel, Stacy X, Rick Jones, and so on, and doesn't bother indicating why or how they are where they are.)
All this and we haven't even gotten to the art, which is splendid. Nick Dragotta has an almost suspiciously elegant style -- figures and actions are carefully positioned and juxtaposed, but with a simplicity that all but dares the reader to overlook its technique. There's some elusive yet subversive quality to his art that I will probably expound on more if I can wrest another review of this book away from the other guys -- it's rolling around on the tips of my fingers but I've yet to figure out exactly what keys to press yet. I know this: as things get stranger, and they almost certainly will, the real strength of his clean and efficient, almost motorik artwork will have no choice but to make a show of itself. Really, though, that's what this book needs. It should be a grand display of irreverence, action, and sly character work; the first issue felt less like the big show and more like queuing up outside the venue.
Nick Dragotta artistPublisher
Rus Wooton letterer
Brad Simpson colorist
Joe Casey writer
Alan Fine production
Mike Deodato, Jr., Gabriele Dell'Otto, Dave McCaig cover
Tom Brevoort, Thomas 'Tom' Brennan, Rachel Pinnelas, Axel Alonso editor