Image / Top Cow
(w) MD Marie (a) Carlos Miko & Dema Jr (c) Thiago Goncalves
With the emergence of smartphones, 24-hour news networks, and social media, the nation’s law enforcement has found itself under great scrutiny. Long gone are the days of looking at police officers with respect. Instead, that respect and optimism has been replaced with fear, suspicion, and distrust. Based on the evidence presented in the court of public opinion, this change in perception is not without merit. It is this view of law enforcement which is the foundation of Vindication #1, from Image Comics and Top Cow Productions.
There’s a good chance you’ll walk away from this comic pissed off, and rightfully so. What was billed as a harrowing look at the criminal justice system is just a run-of-the-mill story featuring dirty and vindictive cops. After a gripping opening sequence, the book opts not to follow the black character and his journey to reintegrate in society after being wrongfully jailed for a decade. Instead, readers follow the detective who put him away. It’s a decision that perplexes. Writer MD Marie has stated in interviews that this story will deal with national issues and how both sides see it. If the goal is to have readers identify with or related to both stances on an issue, this first chapter misses the mark.
Detective Chip Christopher’s plight leaves room for empathy. He thought he had brought closure to a family in need of it, only for it to be blown apart. Following Christopher as he struggles with this development – perhaps rattling his faith in the system he inhabits – is a unique angle that, on paper, should be interesting. Unfortunately, MD Marie’s story makes Christopher a dick. From his introduction he is instantly unlikeable, undermining any real desire to see things from his perspective. Things spiral from there as he becomes obsessed with the overturned conviction. He tampers with evidence. He argues with the LAPD’s internal affairs department. Very quickly, readers will wish they were following the freed Turn Washington instead of his persecutor and ultimately will be relieved when they reach the final page.
Vindication #1 is not completely without merit. The art from Carlos Miko, Dema Jr, and Thiago Goncalves is, in keeping with Top Cow tradition, fantastic. Vindication concerns itself with real-world problems, and the art supports that by being stunningly authentic. The linework and shading work in great harmony to provide true-to-life depth of vision. Much of the time, the work by the art team is the only reason to keep trudging along through the issue.
Vindication #1 is a comic that sadly does not live up to its promise. This is only one issue, and perhaps things will change for the better in the succeeding installments. But even if you take the potential of social commentary away, you are left with a pretty book full of unlikeable characters. Great art can do a lot for a book, but it cannot salvage this subpar story.