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What Does Vertigo Have to Offer? (Besides the Obvious)

In 2013 Vertigo Comics released several new titles in a push to revitalize the Vertigo brand and bring back the off-beat comics that Vertigo is best known for. Since enough time has lapsed that these new titles have had time to establish story-arcs and characters, it’s time to take a look to see what Vertigo has to offer (besides Sandman).

Writer: Scott Snyder Artist: Sean Murphy

Writer: Scott Snyder
Artist: Sean Murphy

So the Wake could be classed as the obvious, but it deserves recognition as Vertigo’s biggest success of 2013.

Created by superstars Scott Snyder and Sean Murphy. The first story arc of The Wake, recently completed in The Wake #5, follows Marine Biologist Lee Archer as is pulled into a Department of Homeland investigation. There is something mysterious and terrifying in the water, and Archer is one of many specialists brought in to investigate.

The first story-arc was filled with thrills and excitement as the team attempts to unravel the mystery behind the beast while trying to stay alive. Snyder’s storytelling is in tip-top shape throughout, and Murphy’s art adds a terrifying ambiance for the murky depths.  This was one of the most gripping comics I read in 2013, and was rightly named one of Comic Book Resources Top 10 comics of 2013.

The second story arc, which cannot come soon enough, begins hundreds of years later and promises new characters, settings, and an epic finale. Vertigo absolutely nailed it with this book and creative team, and hopefully will continue to be able to attract this level of talent and expertise.

By: Jeff Lemire

By: Jeff Lemire

Trillium is Vertigo’s second knock-out success of the year, with Jeff Lemire’s trademarked inventive storytelling. The title follows botanist Nika Temsmith from the year 3797 and English explorer William Pike from 1921 as their research leads them to each other, and the end of the universe. As the publisher says:

This isn’t just a love story; It’s the LAST love story ever told.

A fascinating aspect of the narrative, is Nika and William’s inability to communicate. Due to this foible, their story must be told through Lemire’s whimsical lines and the watercolor feel the piece.

The narrative also unfolds uniquely as Trillium follows each protagonists perspective. Trillium #1 can be read from the back or the front, but midway the reader must flip the comic upside to read the other side of the story. This bold technique, while fascinating, also cements the character’s importance and allows for twists and turns no one could have predicted (Trillium #5 is mind-blowing).

Trillium is enrapturing, nailing the vibe Vertigo has set out to create while also raising the bar for Vertigo’s other titles.

Writer: Oliver Simon Artist: Robbi Rodriguez Cover Artis: Nathan Fox

Writer: Oliver Simon
Artist: Robbi Rodriguez
Cover Artis: Nathan Fox

Originally released under the title “Collider”, which had to be changed for legal reasons, FBP (Federal Bureau of Physics) has proven itself to be a quirky title set in a world where the laws of physics run amok and Special Agent Adam Hardy must figure out why.

The two things that stand out in this series are the covers and the failed physics scenarios. Kelly Thompson named Collider #1 as one of her favorite covers of 2013 and each subsequent cover deserves respect as well. The bold colors, use of negative space and motion in each cover makes the comic stand out on the shelves and dares you to pick it up.

Inside the comic, the bizarre physics fiascoes that Adam must deal with further the embody the promise of excitement from the cover. Adam has ventured into bubble universes and floated in areas gravity has forgotten while his partner was once lost in the universe for over a decade.

While the overall story and characters have been slow to develop, the imaginative situations that Simon and Rodiguez take the reader through, both big and small,  are delightful. While this title may not be everyone’s cup of tea, it is definitely worth a read for those interested in universe building, and a solid title worthy of the Vertigo name.

Writer: Ian Edginton Artist: Francesco Trifolgi

Writer: Ian Edginton
Artist: Francesco Trifolgi

To be completely honest, the reason I bought Hinterkind was the tiger on the cover of the first issue. Not the humans, or fairies, or hellboy-esque troll, but the tiger. In retrospect, focusing on one element of the cover at the expense of the others was a bad judgement on my part.

Hinterkind is a post-apocalyptic book following human survivors as the Hinterkind – think fairies/elves/fey – begin to take over. The past four issues have been primarily devoted to world-building, as the book follows a few humans who have left the safety of their community to venture into the wild world.

The plot follows a standard post-apocalyptic narrative. Human civilization as we know it is no more, humans are fighting for survival, a new race of creatures is out to discourage human survival. The book requires a great deal of  mental investment in order to keep the characters and their travels straight, while so far not offering a large-scale narrative to latch onto.

If post-apocalyptic narratives are your thing, or you really like depictions of otherworldly creatures, this book will fill your niche. However,  Hinterkind has been less gripping than other comics in Vertigo’s line. While it presents a dark, mysterious universe, the cliche’s employed hold little mystery to anyone with genre familiarity.

Written by: Caitlin Kittredge Art by: Inaki Miranda Cover by: Dave Johnson

Written by: Caitlin Kittredge
Art by: Inaki Miranda
Cover by: Dave Johnson

Coffin Hill is another title I picked up based on cover alone, but a choice I don’t regret.

Coffin Hill tells the story of Eve Coffin, who in a drunk, drugged haze unleashes an evil in the woods of Coffin Hill. Years later, Eve returns to Coffin Hill after years on the Boston Police force, to find the evil seeping from the woods into the everyday lifestyle of the city.

Inaki Miranda brings his wonderful art style to Coffin Hill. His ability to blend beauty with horror is profound, blending well with  Caitlin Kittredge’s storytelling. As Coffin Hill is Kittredge’s first comic book series, it is understandable that the title hasn’t quite hit it’s stride yet.

The first few issues are slightly too quickly paced, revealing too much of the overall story while not delving far enough into the main characters’ histories or motivations. This leads to a few moments feeling melodramatic, as the reader doesn’t know enough about the characters to believe the over-the-top reactions involved.

That said, the story itself is interesting, and Kittredge’s ability to develop caustic heroines and dark environments shine. Eve Coffin is a great character, and the city of Coffin Hill is a truly horrifying place that promises plenty of secrets and evils. If the comic can hit its stride in upcoming issues, Coffin Hill will definitely do Vertigo proud.


3 comments on “What Does Vertigo Have to Offer? (Besides the Obvious)

  1. belleryphon15
    January 21, 2014

    I am so glad to hear I am not alone in being whelmed by “Hinterkind.” I’ve been leafing through friends’ copies of it as it comes out, but just am not feeling it. “Wake” and “Trillium” have been knocking my socks off with how amazing they are. “Coffin Hill” I has me on the fence. It has promise and I want to like it, but its too threadbare. The plot is all over the place and the lack of reconciliation with how Eve went from spoiled, rebel teenage witch scion to a Boston PD rookie getting shot by one character in defense of another character, both of whom we’ve never met but are alluded to have some relationship with Eve . . . I think that there is promise, but a certain sloppiness in exposition. I’m still buying it though, to see if it pulls itself out.

    • comicreviewers
      January 21, 2014

      I really wanted to like Hinterkind…but I can’t bring myself to do it. It’s only had 4 issues and I already can’t keep track of the characters or the storyline. It’s going for epic, but it’s just not working out.

      I really want to like Coffin Hill as well – but the last issue left a really distasteful feeling in my mouth. TO figure out whether or not to keep buying it, my plan is to read some of Kittredge’s novels. I feel like that way I can make the ultimate decision about whether or not I think she can pull this out and have it live up to its potential.

      As I typed that, I realize that I put way too much time and effort into deciding which comics to buy every month.

  2. Pingback: Comic Picks of the Week! | We Are Comic Reviewers

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