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Vertigo Spotlight: Postcards from the Ledge

A column article, Comics Bulletin Soapbox by: Robert Murray

EDITOR'S NOTE: As a teaser of things to come once Silverbulletcomicbooks.com re-launches as ComicsBulletin.com, we inaugurate our weekly Spotlight on DC Comics' Vertigo imprint.



Hello everyone, and welcome to the very first installment of Postcards from the Ledge, a ComicsBulletin Vertigo Spotlight column. Every week, I will focus on Vertigo’s finest, concentrating on the past, present, and future of this unique imprint. You’ll read interviews with Vertigo creators, sneak previews of future works, and a fun comparison I like to call The Vertigo Power Rankings. This week, I want to go over the November month that was at Vertigo, highlighting the best of the last thirty days, and look at the exciting events coming in December.

Before we get started, I want to tell you a little about myself. Currently, I’m a SBC reviewer and a lifelong comic reader (about twenty years under my belt) who came upon Vertigo relatively recently with the introduction of Fables, which quickly became one of my favorite titles. I loved the vivid characterizations and adult situations in a series that concerned fairy tale figures kids have come to know and love (or hate). I wanted to see more of these kinds of comics, and pretty soon I was subscribing to each and every Vertigo title. So, I consider myself pretty well versed in the current state of Vertigo, though you’re definitely welcome to call me on anything you think I’ve misunderstood or just out-and-out got wrong. My main goal with this column is to point out all of the wonderful comics being produced by Vertigo currently, titles with some of the most skilled creators in the business creating unique tales that deserve your attention. Who knows? You might discover a favorite comic in the process!

Here are the highlights from November:
Cairo: This original graphic novel, written by G. Willow Wilson and illustrated by MK Perker, is the perfect example of why you don’t buy a hookah from some random dude on the street. You never know what’s in it! (Insert joke here.) Seriously, this is a solid work of fiction that will probably scare most readers away due to the $25 cover price (Amazon has it for $16, though). If your daily sudoku puzzles aren’t keeping your mind invigorated like they should, give Cairo a try. It is a puzzle of a graphic novel, with many interweaving characters and situations that will either frustrate you to no end or cause you to appreciate the craftsmanship on display. The ancient mythology of Cairo collides with the modern political setting of the Middle East to cook up some wicked entertainment. You may think the American woman is really obnoxious and that many of the characters are unsympathetic, but the overall story is engrossing and challenging, with quality artwork that could have been enhanced with some color.

Crossing Midnight #13: The newest issue of Crossing Midnight is both the start of a new story arc, "The Time of Circles," and the return of co-creator Jim Fern. But the element that sticks out in my mind is the crazy amount of implied porn star sex action in this issue. Come on! We’ve got a "coffin" hotel cubicle filled with used rubbers, an adult film actress who Kai is VERY familiar with, and (of course) pseudo-prostitute Loretta, who gives Kai a sloppy kiss before heading home. It’s not nearly as racy as it sounds, but definitely interesting. Also, we have a cool Candyman moment as Toshi/Hasharito attacks Loretta through a bathroom mirror, her "Superdog" in tow. Talk about a nicely drawn set of panels! It’s nice to see Fern back in charge of the art duties once again, as he has a good grasp on illustrating the fantastical elements of Mike Carey’s story.

Scalped #11: This excellent issue of an excellent series has two scenes that will stand out in fans’ minds for a while, both of which are the defining moments of Gina Bad Horse’s life. I won’t spoil these moments if you haven’t read this issue, but they will impact where this series goes in the near future. Once again, Jason Aaron and R.M. Guera have produced a character-driven stand-alone issue that is among the finest fiction in mainstream comics today. The Prairie Rose Reservation is so vividly portrayed that you can almost taste the dust and grit of the land, and the characters are just as true to life. While all of you action fans out there might have a hard time appreciating Scalped, those of you who enjoy an in-depth drama with hints of mystery mixed in will LOVE this series. If you don’t read Scalped currently, what’s wrong with you!? Get down to the comic shop now! I’ll wait...

Other highlights include:
  • AJ & his hordes get hit by a super truck in Exterminators #23.

  • Cracked-up Humpty Dumpty makes an appearance in Jack of Fables #17.

  • The penultimate issues of Y: The Last Man and Testament (sniff!).

  • Danijel Zezelj is the guest artist on DMZ #25.

Now, take a look at what’s coming up in December:
Northlanders #1: How could you not be excited about this book, particularly if you love Vertigo comics? It’s Brian Wood’s newest project, and if you love his in-depth characterizations, Northlanders will definitely fill the bill. I’ve fortunately had the opportunity to read the first issue, and I have to say this looks like another winner. While it doesn’t quite have the Wow factor I would expect for a first issue from Wood (particularly after the first issue of DMZ), this introduction has everything you would expect from a tale featuring Vikings, swordplay, and revenge. I hope that doesn’t give away too much! Be sure to check out my advance review.

Loveless #21: Sure, it’s been a long wait, but we finally arrive at the conclusion of the “Blackwater Falls” arc, as well as the wedding everyone’s been waiting for (no pun intended). If you’ve been following the series and haven’t lost sight of Azzarello’s involved plot, then you can’t miss this issue. If only it were a monthly again...

Un-Men #5: Freaks off the leash? You bet! Un-Men reaches the end of its first story arc, and this one’s gonna be a humdinger! You’ve got double resurrections: Janus Jr. (actually brought back to life in Issue #3), who may be more over-the-top than we’ve already seen, and (apparently) Damien Kane, the long-dead founder of Aberrance. Plus, we have the premier of “American Freak,” which hopefully won’t be judged by Simon, Randy, and Paula. And, please, please, PLEASE, no Ryan Seacrest! Murray, out!

Also of note:
  • Tony Moore returns as the artist for Exterminators #24, a stand-alone tale.

  • Dash Bad Horse takes center stage in Scalped #12.
Well, that wraps up this first tour of the Vertigo Universe. Is it a Universe? Some people think so.

What do you think? In fact, what do you think about anything Vertigo or my column in particular? Let me know! Your feedback will keep this column from becoming a personal rant every seven days, in addition to helping me compile my monthly power rankings. I can’t wait to show you that! Anyway, feel free to e-mail me anytime at murber74@cox.net, or use the boards if you’re so inclined. I’ll be around.

Thanks for reading!

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