Current Reviews


Captain Gravity: The Power of the Vril #1

Posted: Friday, August 6, 2004
By: Ray Tate

Writer: Joshua Dysart
Artists: Sal Velluto(p), Bob Almond(i), Mike Garcia(c)
Publisher: Penny-Farthing

Penny-Farthing was kind enough to send me a copy of a comic book that featured one of the company's debut heroes. Captain Gravity is a unique character because he operates in the thirties of prewar America and happens to be a black hero whose powers and personality are not in nature generic, which often happens to ethnic-based heroes. The good Captain genuinely has the air of a serious champion about him as opposed to a funky anti-hero, which is another common pitfall ethnic-based heroes face.

Captain Gravity creator Steve Vrattos has apparently moved on to other things, but readers should take heart. For this newest mini-series Joshua Dysart takes over the writing reins. Dysart is no stranger to the time period. He is half-responsible for the creation of one of this reviewer's favorite independent comic book series, the darling of "The Pick of the Brown Bag" Chassis. Chassis detailed a future that was informed from the thirties pulps and the thirties style. Here, Dysart goes strictly by the history books, and history helps fuel Captain Gravity's latest foray.

All the information gleaned from this book is accurate. Readers can learn about the innocent history of the Swastika as well as some of its unusual appearances before the Nazis tainted the symbol forever. Readers can learn about Nazi Germany's insane archaeological quests that were funded to prove the existence of an Aryan race that they believed to be their ancestors.

Though not direct history, Dysart incorporates such reduced facts as movie star spies and a surprising lack of information trickling to the press about Nazi atrocities committed against anybody not fortunate enough to be of the hypothetical Aryan line. Naturally, Dysart does not pass on the Nazi interest in the occult, and he makes all this study enjoyable by infusing it into energetic dialogue which does not come across to the reader as a history lesson but as the presence of the cast and a fun plot.

Apart from researching and attending to the technical writing duties, Dysart takes a comprehensive look at what gravity powers can accomplish. Captain Gravity does not only fly or will things to float. The writer considers some more subtle uses of such an ability. This consequently heightens the intelligence of the star. This is a surprise not because the character happens to be black but because the writing paradigm of super-hero writing has unfortunately shifted to dumbing the hero down rather than increasing the complexity of the plot to create conflict or challenge.

Equally impressive is the artwork by Sal Velluto and Bob Almond. Originally Keith Martin and Rober Quijano did a superb job illustrating the good Captain's origin adventure, but Velluto and Almond aren't slouches. The Velluto and Almond artwork gave Justice League Taskforce, the more intelligent, better-written version of Justice League Elite, a reason to exist. They helped make Black Panther proud, and though the make rare appearances in the comic book world, those appearances are always welcome. The team's artwork bestows to the pages a very unique look to Captain Gravity. All the characters appear lanky and well-nourished. Muscle spreads through the genders and independent of skin color. Velluto and Almond indeed often seem to be following Don Newton's footsteps. This school attendance creates a beautiful comic book experience.

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