Vertigo Spotlight: Postcards from the Ledge (No. 5)

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Happy New Year! I hope everyone had a great holiday season to end 2007, though I know there are a few groups of fans out there who have some major gripes about this year (Amazing Spidey readers, enter your comments now!). In regard to Vertigo, 2008 is looking so bright that I’m gonna have to buy myself some shades! Not only are we getting David Lapham’s Young Liars and Matt Wagner’s Madame Xanadu to look forward to, but also some great original graphic novels (e.g. Incognegro) and collections from Vertigo’s past (Doom Patrol and Sandman Mystery Theatre, to name two). Sadly, we will also say adieu to four series’ in 2008, most notably Y: The Last Man and 100 Bullets. Therefore, at this time of the season when we say hello and goodbye in equal measure, we are going to look back at December 2007 and ahead to January 2008. So, grab yourself a bottle of Korbel and crank up the noisemaker, because “Postcards from the Ledge” is here to lead you into the new year!

Here are the highlights from December:
Northlanders #1 - I’ve probably said all there is to say about this issue in my columns and review this month, but Brian Wood’s newest series deserves to be the belle of the ball for December 2007 since this series will be one to watch in 2008. Do I hear Eisner calling? The huge eight issue arc that will start Northlanders will surely make a great collection, but why wait? This title will resonate with bloodlust and emotional power throughout “Sven the Returned” due to Wood’s fantastic craftsmanship and Davide Gianfelice’s superb images. If you haven’t picked up the first issue yet, do it now before you’re left in the dust.

Exterminators #24 - Exterminators is one of the @$%&$ craziest rides in all of comics, and Issue #24 displays this nuttiness perfectly. “Buffet of Darkness” is the kind of wacky ride that Simon Oliver has been serving consistently for the past two years. The title of the issue is a play on Heart of Darkness, complete with a Colonel Kurtz and a meandering boat ride. But that’s where the similarities to Joseph Conrad’s story end, as we encounter deformed prostitutes, exploding heads, and an orgy where anything goes. Plus, this issue marks the return of Tony Moore to the Exterminators family after a ten issue absence. Honestly, I’ve been frustrated by Moore’s absence from this title, as well as non-Vertigo comics such as The Walking Dead and Fear Agent (Covers don’t count!). However, this frustration is a testament to his fine work and how I miss it. I mean, who else can capture the tenderness of a young boy giving his father a hug, particularly when that father isn’t wearing any pants? At least he’ll be around for January’s issue, which looks into how A.J. came back from the dead.

Hellblazer #239 - Granted, I haven’t been one of the biggest boosters for this series since Andy Diggle took over the reins, but this newest storyline looks like it might have some bite, and I mean that in the best possible sense. The next few issues will unfold the saga of the Laughing Magician, who we haven’t met yet but is a character that will obviously have a large impact on Constantine and the inhabitants of a certain African settlement. Issue #239 is full of shockingly violent scenes, supplied by a maniacal figure with filed teeth and a pack of hyenas at his beck and call. As I have said before in my reviews, Leonardo Manco is the perfect artist for this series, as his stark illustrations cause the demons and evil players in Hellblazer’s world to literally jump off the pages (And that’s some scary stuff!). Though the ending of this issue felt a little contrived and convenient, the future of this arc looks promising and certainly raw. Well, the brains that our villain feasts on aren’t necessarily raw...

Other highlights include:
  • Jason Aaron’s superb character analysis of Dash Bad Horse in Scalped #12.

  • Brian Wood’s Viking funeral is in DMZ #26, not that other title...

  • The end of King Ambrose? That’s Fables #68, for those of you who don’t know.

  • Zombies and Hawkeye (No, this is not a Marvel comic!) invade Jack of Fables #18.
Now, take a look at what’s coming up in January:
Y: The Last Man #60 - What can I say about this issue that you don’t already know? Well, it is a double-sized last issue that will hopefully answer any of the unresolved questions concerning Yorick Brown and his adventures as the last man on Earth. Looking at the cover image that DC has provided for us, I have one overwhelming thought: I hope this illustration is not literal! If I find out that this entire story is the creation of an insane mind, I might flip out. But Brian K. Vaughan has never let me down, so I’m sure this last issue will be a humdinger that will be the talk of the internet (in a good way), as well as a reason for all of us to reread this series.

Fables #69 - With the ending to Issue #68 still lingering in my mind, this conclusion to “The Good Prince” arc should include some shocks and surprises, as well as the future fate of Haven. Judging from the hints Vertigo is throwing out there, Haven will still be a factor in the future of Fables society, but will it still hold the same mystique and power with Flycatcher seemingly out of the picture? Willingham and Buckingham will surely make Issue #69 one to remember.

Scalped #13 - The investigation into the murder of Gina Bad Horse starts here, beginning the five issue arc appropriately entitled “Dead Mothers.” Yes, that is plural, as Dash investigates the deaths of two women on the Prairie Rose Reservation. Jason Aaron and RM Guera are going to have a ball with this arc, as the complex Dash Bad Horse is the centerpiece of the entire affair. Will he jeopardize his undercover status while seeking his mother’s murderer? Let’s all read and find out!

Also of note:
  • Vertigo celebrates the 20th anniversary of Hellblazer with Issue #240

  • Testament, Faker, and American Virgin take their final bows.

  • Speaking of American Virgin, Vertigo can’t end the series fast enough, with two issues in January.

There you have it! Are you amped up about 2008 yet? If you’re a Vertigo fan and you’re not excited about these new offerings, you need to check your pulse! Okay, that may be a little extreme, but I really think that 2008 is going to be a great year for my favorite imprint. What do you think? Drop me a line at “[email protected]” and give me your personal take. While you’re at it, pour me a glass of champagne: my house is dry. See you next month!

Thanks for reading!

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