Cover date: February 2006
Writer: Bruce Jones
Penciller: Ben Oliver
Inker: Ben Oliver
Reviewed by: Neal Bailey
Sovereign shows up at a child murderer's apartment, Edward Culkins, and offers to give him police protection for help in trapping the Vigilante. Somehow, Culkins knows about Vigilante's shrink and the girl he's dating (Powell and Carpenter).
Sovereign tells his partner he's planted the bug. As his partner debates the ethics of such action, Vigilante arrives and condemns Culkin to death, attacking him.
Sovereign rushes back in, but Vigilante is gone. He's also given Culkins the bug. Culkins explains that he's not at any risk from Vigilante. He explains how he was raped in prison, and had to find a way to survive, so he planted a shiv on another prisoner he'd lifted from a large prisoner named "Kort", a prisoner who had just been released.
Culkins became (ah, how to put this delicately), the sexual rape-partner of Kort in exchange for protection, a deal that stretched out into real life, where Kort protects Culkins from Vigilante.
Powell meets with Culkins, who, Powell reveals, is the man who attacked the camp Vigilante was in last issue. Powell presses Culkins for details, but Culkins blows him off.
Vigilante follows Culkins, and pronounces sentence again before attacking Culkins. Kort comes from the side, attacking Vigilante and knocking him off the building.
Story - 3: Well, what more can you ask for from a comic book? Prison rape, shivs, child murderers, crooked cops, and more prison rape?
But hey, I'm a big kid. I can deal with big kid topics. I just feel so... odd writing on the Superman Homepage about prison rape. That's kind of, well, the kind of grim and gritty detail I get into in my personal site.
So you'll forgive my awkward entry into this story.
As a story, it continues the storyline all right, and even gets us closer to a resolution, but at the cost of a detour taking us away from the main characters from an entire issue in exchange for characterizing the genius of a child murderer which is not only disconcerting, but kind of unnecessary. This is decompression for the sake of decompression. And I usually advocate that over brevity. But not this time. Mostly because of the shivs, and the rape, and the, well, you know.
I'm also not a big fan of warnings and censorships and telling writers how to do their bit (I firmly believe any 12-year-old with a firm grasp of himself and the world around him could handle this issue well. I would have). That said, however, this issue, if it's going to have prison rape in a line of books that include Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman, et al, you should likely put a "warning, explicit content" on the front. Just so the mommies don't yell. Marvel does it, and DC's kind of cowardly way of doing it is to not use the Comics Code Authority on books it doesn't want kids reading, assuming that parents even know what it means (they don't).
Again, I'm all against ratings. I think parents should preview what their kids are reading and watching before the kids check it out if they plan on letting their kids watch it and get mad if it's something they don't like. I'm all about parent responsibility over content as opposed to the company itself.
That said, I know all too well that the naive public expects itself to be pampered, and would be shocked and appalled if somehow a five-year-old got her hands on a copy of Vigilante and the prison rape scene. They wouldn't say "Why weren't her parents driving her to the store? Where did she get the money for the book? Where was the comic shop guy warning her?". They'd just say "DC MUST PAY FOR CORRUPTING OUR YOUTH!"
Art - 3: The art remains dark and very 1-2-3 character scene oriented. As I've said before, this art is better when it's action, when it's outside, when it's not so dark, and unfortunately, this series doesn't offer a lot of that.
Still, a decent effort. Just nothing astonishing.
Cover Art - 5: Interesting. Like a first person shooter game shot, only a bit more visceral and graphic. A bit gory, but not without its benefit to the format. I haven't seen a foreground that interesting in a while, and it gives it a very camera-like effect because of the blur, a nice touch.
Check out the Comic Index Lists for the complete list of Superman-related comics published in 2006.