Vigilante 10

The Vigilante Challenge
Warning: This will be somewhat spoiler filled through Vigilante issue 10.

I recently had the pleasure of attending the Mid Ohio Con. Marv Wolfman was one of the guests and I had the chance to chat briefly with him about Vigilante, as I was getting a book signed. He mentioned that sales numbers weren’t so great on the book, which really motivated my thoughts for this column.

Vigilante has been a book that has filled an important area in my reading experience. It’s a great mystery. When this new Vigilante appeared in Nightwing, it brought about a few questions for me. Was this Adrian Chase back from the dead? Was it a completely new character? Was there any connection to the previous series? What is the overall hook into this series? Why should I care?

I really have enjoyed the gradually unfolding mystery to the identity of Vigilante. We find out early on that Dorian is his name but not much else. He can adopt a new identity ala the film “Face Off”. This enables him to use his civilian identity to infiltrate organized crime and to gain information from the inside. This is an interesting story element. If things get too hot, he can change his location, identity and contacts to redirect his war on crime. This has the possibility of keeping this book very fresh as each new identity could completely change the way he operates. It could also change the supporting cast.

He has adopted this role to make up for the death of his wife. He is somehow responsible and it’s really clear that he wasn’t on the side of the angels before. What drove him to change his allegiances? What was his role in the death of his wife? How did her father play into this? We learn he is a part of organized crime but we don’t know the details of his relationship with Dorian. Every issue fills in more of the pieces but has us asking more questions.

Another twist on the series is that he is being hunted by the FBI for killing an agent. As you can guess he is not responsible. He seems to have a code which is to avoid killing police. The partner of the deceased agent is the one hunting him. It’s partially out of revenge for the death of her partner but I also feel she is angry that he keeps escaping from them. You can feel her frustration come off the page.

Friend of the show, David Baron, does the color work on this book. The whole artistic presentation is very gritty and edgy. It has a very unique atmosphere. Dorian’s focus is on his war on selected crime organizations and his point of view drives the style of the visuals. It looks like a good crime film.

Vigilante isn’t like anything else I am reading. I would be very disappointed if it got cancelled. As we learn more about Dorian, it just brings about more questions about his background. Marv mentioned that rereading the series will reveal many clues that were presented in earlier issues that point to the solutions of those mysteries. That type of storytelling really grabs me. I love books featuring the top tier characters but it’s great to follow the adventures of some of the B and C listers. Their books tend to view the world VERY differently. If it sounds like a book that you are interested in, issue 11 kicks off his new status quo so it’s a great issue to try out.

Please feel free to send my any comments to ragingbullets@gmail.com or visit our forums. If you try out Vigilante, I would love to hear your thoughts. No matter your experience. It’s always fun to chat comics. I may air some of them on the show.

Sean

Hellblazer 259

This week, I wanted to kick things off by talking about Hellblazer 259 and why this book is growing on me. I’ve mentioned on the podcast multiple times that I’ve only jumped on the Hellblazer bandwagon recently. I’ve actually been collecting it over the past year or so and was considering dropping it, not due to quality, but that I never actually was reading it.

When my comics arrive each week, I look through my stack and grab the first five to six books that catch my eye and those are my starting point. Those are usually the ones where the story has my so captivated that I just need to know what is happening next.

Hellblazer had become one of those titles.

Spoiler alert: (Scroll down for more)

John’s relationship with Phoebe, who is currently but hopefully not permanently deceased, is what’s really grabbing me. You know the age old threat of daddy bringing a shotgun to the door when his daughter brings home the boyfriend? Well, when John shows up, he should bring a bazooka. Not only did she die because of him, but he did a number of awful things to her. This included using magic to rekindle their relationship. The irony is that she was already considering getting back together with him when he did this.

That’s what I like about reading John’s story. He’s human. Sure he’s this know it all when it comes to the supernatural but even basic human interaction seems to escape him. Socially, he is a mess. He isn’t particularly respectful or nice to anyone. He has intense insecurities about himself and the fact that any woman, that he could really care for, could even love him.

So why do people like Chas and Phoebe get pulled into his world? It’s because deep down John is one of the good guys. He does care. It’s often very hard to see it and many times he doesn’t realize it himself. The thing is, when he sets his mind to accomplish a task, he will cross a ton of taboo boundaries to complete it, many times at the cost of his own soul.

Chas is loyal because of not only for what he did for Tricia. (Note: I am guessing Tricia is his daughter. Please excuse me long time fans. I am learning the ropes here.) I think this dialogue says it all: “John’s a mate. All right, he’s got some strange ideas, and people who spend too much time with him tend to have a run of bad luck, but he’s all right.” He’s the kind of guy that Chas can’t completely articulate why he likes him but he knows there is something about this guy that makes him good. He’s drawn to him even though he is very rough around the edges. I have to laugh because if he got any rougher, you’d get razor burn just shaking his hand.

When it comes to Phoebe, it looks like the classic “girl meets bad boy, bad boy is detached and heartless, girl will definitely get hurt” relationship. It does fit but it’s also not that simple. She sees the part of him that Chas does. She probably couldn’t ever put it into words that someone else would understand but she sees something in him. It feels very real because even as I write this, I have a hard time articulating what is so likeable about him. I think we all know or have known someone in our life that we have had that kind of relationship with. You like them but you are awkward or even ashamed to admit it to others.

John has made attempts to saved Phoebe’s body and soul from death. He is trying to cheat death. In his own mind he is making things right. The overarching question: Is John doing this for selfish reasons or because it is the right thing to do? I am not sure.

Phoebe is currently in hell. John’s handling of that will show us a great deal there. In 259, he encountered some things that are only fit to be in a horror movie. It also included a great flashback to the start of his relationship with Phoebe. This is a pretty solid jumping on point to see if this book is right for you as much of the current continuity is laid out in this issue.

I want to shout out the artwork of Simon Bisley and Jamie Grant. The mood and tone set by this issue feels very dark and creepy. There is a ton of emotion there as well as in many panels John’s face and posture tells many different stories. It’s visually clear that this man has a very low opinion of himself but that he hides it well with cockiness when necessary. Surprise, frustration, joy and even fear creep into this character throughout and pull us into his world.

John’s discovery that he is in hell is a brilliant segment visually and through dialogue. He comes across a girl named Kathy who he is familiar with. She is trapped in a bathroom stall with a guy named Troy who is telling her over and over again how he killed his parents. She seems doomed to relive that tragic relationship and some bad decisions she made as a personal torment of her own. You can see it on her face and in the environment. It was just a really well thought out way to make us a part of that discovery.

Hellblazer is currently one of many books that demonstrate what I love about great comics. John’s mistakes make me connect with my own humanity and mistakes that I have made in relationships of the past. I love that I feel like I am not sure what advice to give him on whether or not he should give up or keep trying when it comes to Phoebe. That just feels natural. It’s something you encounter when dealing with relationship advice with friends or family.

If you haven’t checked Hellblazer out, it’s dark, irreverent and creepy. There’s also some really intense humanity in the book. Give it a shot. If you do or currently read Hellblazer, email me your thoughts at ragingbullets@gmail.com. I might even sneak some of them onto our podcast.

Sean “DrNorge” Whelan

Biting the Bullet Intro

I’m Sean Whelan. If you’ve listened to Raging Bullets, you know I am one of the cohosts. You’re probably asking yourself: “Why on Earth would you write a column with all of the hours of podcasting you do?” The honest answer is that there are always topics we don’t have time for on the show that I’d love to discuss. Even with doing this on the web site, I’ll always have more I want to chat about. This is another way for me to stretch my creative muscles and have some fun chatting about my love of comics.

This might also give me a chance to chat about some things outside of DC Comics that don’t really fit our show format. This could be anything from comics outside DC, movies, gaming, and other general musings. Since it is on our site, I’ll focus as much on topics that would normally make our show as possible but will take advantage of that freedom from time to time.

My current plan is to release this at least once a week or so depending on podcast preparations.

Feel free to shoot me your comments to ragingbullets@gmail.com and thanks for reading. I am not pretending I am a great writer but hope these submissions will be of some entertainment to you.

Jimmy Olsen for President?

Jimmy Olsen for President?

Okay, so maybe not. But after re-watching an episode of Smallville (“Identity,” which aired on October 30) I started to wonder if there was a major “We Love Jimmy” campaign going on between the writers of Smallville and the editors over at DC comics.

You see, about the same time that the Jimmy Olsen Special hit comic book stores, The CW aired an episode showing off Jimmy’s ability to do research and be a real investigative reporter. And what was the Special all about? Well, it was about him making a name for himself without relying on Lois and Clark, of course!

Coincidence? I think not.

Even if Jimmy was put off the trail by Clark in “Identity,” it still showed that he had the chops to be a reporter. Sure, we all know that he was right in identifying Clark as the “Red and Blue Blur,” but that’s not the point. And the way he went about figuring it out? Classic. Even though he is portrayed as roughly being the same age as Clark on the show, his copy and errand boy enthusiasm was shining through in a way that was very reminiscent of comic book Jimmy.

And by this time, we probably all know that the purpose of the Special in the comics was to build Jimmy up for the period of time after New Krypton when Superman is off Earth and his main title is left in the hands of his supporting characters. I’m sure Jimmy got a nice pat on the back from Perry for bringing the Guardian out of hiding and getting the story.

But still, I’m of the mind that the two events might have been brought to the public on purpose. And if they were, score one point for the new executive producers on Smallville for finding a way to bridge the sometimes wide gap between the show and the comics.

Teen Titans Recruitment Drive

I’m sure any reader of Teen Titans knows about this as well, as issue #66 hit this last Wednesday. I haven’t read it yet (it should be arriving from DCBS first of the week), but from the looks of it, Bombshell might be sticking around. And from the looks of the cover, Spoiler might also be around.

But how much of Robin’s solo storyline, as well as what has recently happened in RIP, feeds into Teen Titans? If they stay true to the other books, then Spoiler has much to answer for if Robin is able to trust her enough for her to be a Titan. And if she does become a member, I can see some awkward moments ahead between Steph and Cassie.

Can’t say that I know much about Static, other than he’s going to stick.

Personally, I would love to see Speedy/Mia join back up with the Titans. I really enjoyed reading her in Green Arrow and Black Canary, but I really think she will shine and have the chance to grow more as a character out from under the watchful eye of her “parents.” And who knows? Maybe Dodger can show up and help out from time to time. I would be up for that.

It’s not DC, but…

Oh, how I wish it was. I am positively in love with The Umbrella Academy. I read Apocalypse Suite in trade, but now the Dallas story arc is under way and I’m able to enjoy the story as it unfolds. And as it turns out, I’m enjoying it immensely. I have a whole new respect for Mr. Gerard Way. I was somewhat of a My Chemical Romance fan before I even knew that he wrote comic books, but now I have great affection for him as an artist.

And now comes the news that Umbrella Academy might be making its way to the big screen in the near future. Hell yeah, man! I can’t wait to see how they incorporate Pogo and their mother, the animated mannequin.

Regardless, it’s new and fresh. So if you’re looking for a book outside of the DC Universe, by all means look over to Dark Horse and check out the Umbrella Academy.

Contact me…

If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions for the column, please feel free to contact me at gutterlife@gmail.com