Written By: Eric Kripke
Art By: John Higgins
Color Art By: SotoColor
Coming off the heels of the insanity that is the DC editorial situation, starting with the dismissal of Shelly Bond from Vertigo, I thought it would be appropriate to take a look at one of the new Vertigo titles that Bond, as Senior Editor, helped bring to the page. Looking at it, there really was no more fitting book to book end Shelly Bond’s work for me (I realize there are still books published that she was involved in, but the timing is still significant). It felt nostalgic; and with an uncertain future of the Vertigo line (I hope it’s mostly the same), this book felt right this week.
In the conclusion to this six issue mini, Kripke manages to wrap up every loose end with a neat bow. To me, it was a little too neat and convenient, but not to that far of a degree. I’m going to attempt to do this without spoilers, but if one slips, here’s your warning. This issue is more or less Josh on a mission to save his family from a crazy drug dealer named Ray. In the grander sense, this is a story about Josh attempting to conquer his demons from his upbringing, which we saw last issue, and be the hero his family swears he is. As we witness the ensuing battle, Jessica, a woman who Josh saves from a bad situation earlier in the series, enters the fray as well, and all hell breaks loose. This whole issue felt straight out of the Ennis school, with hyper violence and crude humor hitting the forefront along with some heavy emotion and sympathy toward the main characters.While I enjoyed the ability to grab us toward these characters in just six issues, the whole series felt very quick. While I know we are used to decompressed and long storylines, this series felt slightly sparse at times, and the ending embodied that. We started off the series moving quickly through moments of Josh with the Jacked drug, which was fast but not too much, and this last issue felt like it should’ve been two issues of more stretched out action. Even though I thought it ended in a place that made sense, getting there wasn’t smooth, which really drew me out of the story.
This series really took me back with the art. When I hear John Higgins’ name, I instantly associate it with Vertigo, and, specifically, his short arc on Hellblazer when Garth Ennis returned. His heavy rendered style with interesting shading techniques puts us firmly in the gritty and dirty world that these characters live in, and even though the characters occasionally look a little stiff, the storytelling still shines through. It’s always weird seeing these artists I know from older books under modern coloring. It was by no means bad, just a different look for Higgins, almost brighter. The one word that comes to mind when looking at this art is “British”, like I’m reading one of the books from the famous British Invasion of the late 80s and early 90s. For everyone who was a fan of that, and who wasn’t, this is worth a look.
Even with the few flaws, I really enjoyed this little series from Vertigo. It seemed that a book like this didn’t have a place just a few years ago, but the reemergence of Vertigo gives us a home for this and other interesting and unique books like Art Ops. I hope this place remains the same, but one thing I can say for sure, we are all going to miss Shelly Bond.
3.5 Pills out of 5