Tuesday, May 17, 2011

31 Days of Comics #17

Vertigo Resurrected #1
By lots of people

These random 100-page spectacular comics that DC keep putting out might sit low on the sales charts, but they are a great way to get a decent chunk of good comics without having to resort to endless $1 bin diving.

It’s easy enough to find issues of Vertigo’s Weird War Tales, Heartthrobs and Flinch if you can be bothered, but it’s even easier to get something like Vertigo Resurrected #1, and get some of the best stories those comics produced. There were quite a few of these anthology comics a few years back – I only just realised there was a Weird Western Tales one - and it’s easy to get bogged down by a large number of mediocre stories.

So Vertigo Resurrected is a fine sampler of these stories, and there are some really good stories in there. But the main attraction is the lead story, which can’t be found anywhere else, because it was never printed in the first place.

Vertigo’s refusal to print Shoot, even though Phil Jimenez had completed the art, had the unfortunate effect of abruptly curtailing Warren Ellis’ eminently suitable run on Hellblazer, and the fact that it has now seen the light of day raises the faint possibility that Ellis could return to the character somewhere down the road.

I really hope he does. It’s a trite cliché, but Ellis really was born to write John Constantine. He gets the character is a way few people can. Peter Milligan is doing some remarkably entertaining and thoughtful work on Hellblazer right now – more than two decades since he started writing the adventures of Shade: The Changing Man – but it’s a comic that outlives its creators, and it would be genuinely interesting to see what Ellis could do with the character now.

Maybe it’s just a matter of hindsight, Shoot isn’t as shocking as it might be. It might be because the whole idea of young people refusing to live in this sick, modern world has been done several times since, or because Shoot has been easily available on the internet for anybody who wants to find it. It might have a queasy twist, and makes a couple of great points about 21st-century apathy, but anybody who is shocked by Shoot must be living in some kind of shell.

There are tons of other neat comics in Vertigo Resurrected, including Morrison and Quitely’s New Toys, in which the artist proved that nobody gets an emotion out of a blank face quite like Quitely, and more nasty fun from guys like Azzarello and Ribic and Seagle and Milligan and Willingham.

Apart from Shoot, the other two stories that made me buy this comic when I saw it in a Vegas comic store came from predictably solid creators. There is a nice story of soldiers gone wrong by Garth Ennis that features some lovely restrained art from Jim Lee, reigning in the histrionics to tell a tale of five men in a car, and there is a sharp examination of callous colonial indifference in a Brian Bolland story that is worth the price of the comic all on its own.

Finding gems like this isn’t always easy, but when they are offered up in something as easy and accessible as Vertigo Resurrected, it’s hard to turn away.


Carl Walker said...

It would be quite a climbdown for him to write Hellblazer after that issue of Planetary... but then again that would be nothing compared to the massive climbdown represented by the shit-ton of Marvel work he wrote after his "fuck superheroes" manifesto, so maybe he really will do it someday. Although I think he's happy not to deal with DC anymore (and far from alone in that it seems).

Bob Temuka said...

It's interesting to note that the last issue of Hellblazer that Ellis did before dumping the book came out a month before that particular Planetary issue (which is easily the weakest issue in the series), so he must have been working on them at the same time...

He might be happy not to deal with DC, but Ellis is smart enough to know that people come and go, and that the folk who pissed him off during his last Hellblazer run are long gone. Mind you, that hasn't stopped Alan Moore from still being grumpy with a company that has very little in common with its 1980s incarnation.

Carl Walker said...

Good point about the timing. And yeah, I don't suppose we'd have Nextwave, among other things, if Ellis had anywhere near the amount of grudge-holding stamina of Moore (there's no way he's never had a bad experience from Marvel, is there?).