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Vigilante #1

Vigilante #1

Scheduled to arrive in stores: September 28, 2005

Cover date: November 2005

Writer: Bruce Jones
Penciller: Ben Oliver
Inker: Ben Oliver

"First Blood"

Neal Bailey Reviewed by: Neal Bailey

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Two sisters poke fun at each other in their bedroom about a man outside who's coming to kill them. Outside, a man stalks them, preparing to kill them.

As the man jimmies his way in, a voice speaks in his head and tells him that he's about to be punished.

The murderer runs, rushes back to his apartment, and relaxes. When he's soaking in his bath, a hand descends and pushes him into the water.

The police arrive, and try and figure the case out. A photographer from the Daily Planet, Lansky, sticks with them, pushing for answers.

Justin Powell, a psychiatrist, sees the dead man in the paper.

Rene Carpenter meets with Ry, one of the detectives from the scene. They used to date, so their relationship is tense. She recommends Justin Powell, the man's former psychiatrist.

In Banger Alley a pimp reclaims one of his hookers, then pulls her inside to do naughty things to her (read between the lines). She is saved by the mysterious voice from the window murderer, who silences the man, sentencing him to death.

The police arrive later, and find a man who can sketch the killer.

He does, but he takes a long time, and when he's finished, they scoff at the picture, which looks like a superhero. They toss it in the garbage. The photographer picks it up and publishes it, the next day, as The Vigilante.

Justin and Rene meet when Rene comes to visit about the Vigilante. They talk about the case, and how Vigilante leaves a V of blood on the ground wherever he goes.

They plan a date, and after she leaves, the Vigilante confronts Justin in the hall.

3Story - 3: Once you sift through the characters (which is rough, thanks to the art, but I'll get to that below), this is the solid basis of what may be a good story, may be a horrible story, but truly, there just isn't enough to tell yet. It's not bad, it's not good, it's just the introduction, so it's very hard to pass judgment in that there is little context other than what we have here.

Do I identify with the characters? On an average level. There's nothing distinctive or special that makes what they're doing more interesting. Is it accurate? Even that has a few problems, in that they toss away a sketch of a suspect in a city full of costumed folk, in that there's a lot of flirting in a world where sexual harassment charges are the norm, in that photographers can't come and tramp on crime scenes, eat donuts, etc.

But then, this is a comic world, so I'm not going to write them off until I know them better. But does this book snag me at the gate? No. But then, neither do most books. After two or three, if it's not going anywhere, the rating will lower.

My biggest gripe is that there is a TON of character interaction, very tightly packed together. It's claustrophobic. And yet, there are three huge, unnecessary splashes that could have been edited and changed in order to spread out the dialogue. That's one of the first tricks I learned writing comics, and one of my first major failures... so it's hard to see and not cringe.

But I'm giving this book a fair shot. I have a good gut feeling about it, don't ask me why. Mostly because I think there's a lot to be said for Authority type figures and the reaction to them in the DCU.

2Art - 2: The art weakened what might have been a more powerful story in that it wasn't readily discernable who was who, and I really had to dig for it. Good art, like good dialogue, isn't necessarily straight-up what things are in real life. For instance, detectives and psychiatrists all wear suits and ties, yes, but in comics, when every character wears a suit and a tie, if you do that with five mains and few distinctive features (like the red cap on the photographer), you end up with a confusing, hard to follow narrative, especially when everybody's packed together in panels.

Dialogue, for instance, is not supposed to be realistic (never mind what a teacher taught you, what they meant was that it's not supposed to be melodramatic), it's supposed to be the best of what we say. Huh? Yeah? Wha? I dunno! All the time gets really trying unless used with flourish and a style, which is why Bendis and Whedon are memorable.

This dialogue, for instance, is good and humanizing, but the art, while depicting what we really look like, makes it hard for me to tell the difference between Justin, Ry, Rene, and Justin's partner. So you confuse the cop with the shrink, and you think the shrink's dating the other shrink, but no, she dated the cop and now she's GOING to date the shrink, and you think the shrink's visiting the cop, or the cop's visiting the shrink, but it's the shrink visiting the shrink, it gets confusing.

Yes, I stopped, read it slowly, and got everything, but that's NOT what a comic book reader will do. They'll just chuck it and move to where the bad guy is purple and green and the good guy is red blue and yellow.

4Cover Art - 4: Compelling, fills the format well. It's not something that happened in the issue but it's something that might be about to, so I let that slide, but for the most part it's a shadowy, neat image that drew me right in to the world and the idea.

Pretty cool.

Mild Mannered Reviews


Note: Month dates are from the issue covers, not the actual date when the comic went on sale.

January 2005

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