The Comic Book Club: Soldier Zero and Vertigo Resurrected

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Some clever picks for the reprinted stories here, though. Bill Willingham’s “It Takes a Village” anticipates what he started doing a few years later with Fables; Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely’s “New Toys” isn’t their best work, but it’s one of the earliest Morrison/Quitely collaborations, and somewhere on the continuum between Toy Story and Joe the Barbarian; Brian Bolland’s “The Kapas” is eight pages of Brian Bolland (I wonder if that’s the longest single story he’s done since The Killing Joke? He’s got another eight-pager in next month’s issue of DC Universe Legacies, too!).

Now, how about another “Vertigo Resurrected” with Rick Veitch’s original Swamp Thing #88?

(More on Techland: “Deadpool” and “Daredevil: Black and White”)

MIKE: Well, I can see why DC took a pass on “Shoot.” As I was reading it I kept thinking how much it reminded me of some of the earlier episodes of Fringe (which themselves harken back to The X-Files). The entire pacing of the story was presented as a mystery. What’s causing these school shootings? Who is this man at all the scenes? The final pages, of course, tip the entire story on its ear, and it made me sit back in my chair and think very hard about what this book might be saying about me. After all I was a violence-desensitized suburban do-nothing in high school. Certainly I wouldn’t have just stood there and watched someone shoot up a room full of my peers? Wait, do I hate myself?

The pacing of the book was excellent, I thought. Fast. That could be because I’m pretty sure that I’ve listened to part of the Jonestown Massacre tapes and I can imagine how someone listening to them over and over might be affected. As far as John’s entrance, I couldn’t help but notice the liberal sprinkling of UK slang in his word bubbles. It seemed forced and out of place. In fact, his angry and confrontational tone throughout doesn’t make sense until those final pages.

GRAEME: Yeah, “Shoot” was… weird. It doesn’t even really make sense. Is there any real explanation given for why Constantine is at all those shootings, beyond “I’m checking out shootings for a friend?” And the rant at the end reminded me that Ellis’ Hellblazer was, at its best, journalism disguised as comics. There’s no real narrative here, it’s a rant with some art from Phil Jiminez (whose work here is so… glossy, I want to say, so not right for the subject matter or the character, that it reminds me how out of place I felt like his stuff was on The Invisibles, way back when).

(More on Techland: The Comic Book Club: “The Last Phantom” and “Set to Sea”)

As for the other material in there… Eh, it’s nice enough, I guess? The Morrison/Quitely story was a nice surprise, but felt very familiar, as if it should be part of Flex Mentallo or something. It’s also the best of the shorts, although I really liked the Steve Niles/Tim Sale short, if only because Sale’s work is gorgeous. Overall, though, it’s a fairly weak package for $7.99. Hopefully, someone can come up with a better use of the format for Vertigo in the future. Maybe we could get a quiet Flex Mentallo collection through this format…?

EVAN: My first reaction upon reading “Shoot” was to wonder what all the fuss was about. Even though it’s been floating around the internet for years, I’d never read it. And once I did, it surprised me by not being as explicitly violent as I was led to believe. It seems like the difference must’ve been more of a philosophical one as to what the story meant. But, honestly, John Constantine is a git. The things that come out of his mouth are meant to inflame, and in that way, “Shoot”‘s totally in keeping with the characterization set up by Alan Moore all those years ago.

As for the rest of the collection, most of it felt like stuff pulled up to fill out the book. I like the Morrison and Quitely tale, especially that last creepy page. But all of the back-up work felt too ridden with weird tics–everybody working the EC influence out of their systems–to have the bigger impact that “Shoot” does.

Man, I would love to see Flex Mentallo in this format.

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