For this week’s review, I will be talking up and breaking down Vengeance #1, a $3.99 comic, published by Marvel Comics and written by Joe Casey, featuring art by Nick Dragotta, colors by Brad Simpson, letters by Rus Wooton, and a cover by Gabrielle Dell’otto. Vengeance #1 is the first, of a six issue mini-series, starring MAGNETO, and also featuring the introduction of a new TEEN BRIGADE, and the re-introduction of a couple of ex-mutants. This issue also features the debut of several brand new characters. This first issue, of the Vengeance mini-series, does quite a bit, in it’s 32 pages. From a World War II era scene with, arguably, the two most evil Nazis ever, to a secret facility at Groom Lake, Nevada, to a nightclub and hotel room, with a celebrity/mutant threesome, to the underground HQ of the latest incarnation of the Teen Brigade, a lot of ground gets covered, in this book.
We open with a one page scene, of a yet to be identified older gentleman, watching the news and seeing Steve Rogers being unable to quell a riot and musing, that Steve and his ilk are all “pretty much” useless. The older gentleman then resolves to get off the bench and do something, rather than “sit around and do nothing”. I like the play off of the line, from the Joker’s note, he made the hostage read in The Dark Knight, saying “I’ve gotta get you off the bench and into the game,” when Joker was trying to get the citizens of Gotham to kill the Wayne Tech lawyer, who was threatening to reveal Batman’s identity. I hope it was an intentional homage, and I think it was. There is a one page scene that follows, where we flashback to 1944, and sit in on a meeting between Hitler and the Red Skull, where the Fuhrer tasks the Skull with eradicating the Russian eugenics program, but we’ll have to wait until future issues, to find out how this scene ties into the greater narrative, of the series.
Next, we meet one of the all new characters this issue introduces, Ultimate Nullifier, while at a nightclub attempting to track down Stacy-X, a serpentine mutant and with pheromone powers, who briefly served as an X-Man, in hopes of protecting her. He is young, brash, arrogant, and smug, but he can also handle himself quite well, and is a capable hand to hand combatant, as well as one of the new Teen Brigade’s field operatives and their leader. His chosen codename speaks volumes about his ego. It takes some pretty big cojonas, for a teenager to name himself after one of the most powerful weapons in the entire Marvel Universe! Ultimate Nullifier, unaware that Magneto is now one of the good guys, comes into conflict with Master of Magnetism, who has been tasked with policing the mutant population, and is also trying to protect Stacy-X. As the tension builds between them, Magneto has a line that really cements the comparison I often draw between him and Malcolm X, when he says, “Unless you count yourself as a mutant… this is not your struggle, boy. I am here to maintain a standard of order. By any means necessary.” After an interesting skirmish, Magneto and Ultimate Nullifier part ways, on the sort of terms reserved for new enemies. It is an entertaining scene, and for an old man, good ol’ Bucket Head sure is full of the proverbial piss and vinegar, and does not shy away from a fight!
Another of the new introductions and members of the Teen Brigade, is Miss America Chavez, who possesses the powers of flight and superhuman strength. She is the current bearer of the Miss America moniker, originally held by the Golden Age heroine, Madeline Joyce Frank. I am particularly fond of her addition, as there are too few Hispanic and minority characters, in general. Her character comes off as sassy, no nonsense, and fun to read. In this issue, she is tasked with infiltrating the Groom Lake Adjacent, in Nevada, and rescuing it’s lone prisoner, The In-Betweener. Upon reaching and freeing The In-Betweener, he begins muttering strangely about duality and not being able to contain the Braak’nhüd, which I am sure, more will be revealed about in Vengeance #2.
Finally, rounding out the new Teen Brigade are former New X-Men and former mutants and the current “power couple” of the Brigade,Angel Salvadore and Barnell Bohusk A.K.A. Beak, neither of which have been seen much, since being depowered during M-Day. In this issue, they’re back at the Teen Brigade’s secret HQ, as support, and are handling communications and monitoring the activities of Ultimate Nullifier and Miss America, while they are in the field. Through some nice subtle work of the art and dialogue, Casey and Dragotta do a nice job of playing up the repartee between Angel and Barnell, and the fact they are a couple, but also that they are a couple who is working, during the course of this book. Angel is as abrasive as ever, and she is clearly annoyed by Ultimate Nullifier, which honestly doesn’t seem like much of a stretch. Nullifier is a bit of a dick, if you know what I mean. Angel’s recent appearance in the box office hit “X-Men First Class” was most certainly a major factor in her resurfacing, at this point in time, in my opinion.
Lastly, let me delve into the art, of Vengeance #1. Nick Dragotta’s art was good and solid, throughout, but nothing exceptional. He does well at conveying the facial emotions and expressions of all the characters involved, though. The action in Vengeance #1 also has a decent flow. One of the strong suits of Dragotta’s art, here, is his ability to truly make the minority women featured in the book, really look like the minority women they are. He does very well at distinguishing the ethnic features and body types/shapes of both Angel Salvadore and Miss America Chavez, not to mention, at depicting Angel’s dreads pretty well. Dreadlocks can be tricky for an artist; some can draw them well, so they look like what they are, while others make them look like the character has a head full of snakes or strands of Spider-Man webbing. The colorist, Brad Simpson, does not use a conventional color palette for the art; he instead, favors a somewhat muted palette that utilizes a lot of heavy blues, purples and greens, with shades of pink, orange, as well as some reds and yellows, used for highlights and contrasts. Overall, the colors in this book are a bit reminiscent, of the palette used by Watchmen colorist, John Higgins. I enjoyed the departure from the norm, in that regard, and anything that reminds me of Watchmen, is a good thing, in my universe.
All in all, Vengeance #1 was a good read, and sets the rest of the series up, to be one with as many noteworthy happenings as it’s advertised to have. I’m looking forward to seeing more of how Magneto fits into the story at large, as it progresses. The issue ends in a cliffhanger, as the Braak’nhüd attack Miss America and The In-Betweener, as she is flying him to safety, and back to the Teen Brigade’s headquarters, so the next chapter is likely to start out with a bang.
Vengeance #2 hits the stands August 3, 2011.
All characters and images are property of Marvel Entertainment.