Current Reviews


Vertigo: First Taste

Posted: Monday, April 11, 2005
By: Michael Deeley

Writers: Brain K. Vaughn, Brain Azzarello, Alan Moore, Warren Ellis, Si Spencer, and Neil Gaiman
Artists: Pia Guerra, Eduardo Risso, Stephen BIssette Darick Robertson, Dean Ormston, and Chris Bachalo (p), Jose Marzan Jr., Eduardo Risso, John Totleben, Jerome K. Moore, Dean Ormston, and Mark Buckingham (i)

Publisher: DC Comics/Vertigo
Price: $4.99 USD

Reprinting stories from:
Y The Last Man #1, 100 Bullets #1, Swamp Thing Vol. 2 #21, Transmetropolitan #1, Books of Magic: Life During Wartime #1, Death: The High Cost of Living #1

To be honest, a $5 TPB would have to be pretty bad to get less than . Hell, even the first Prophet trade has $5 worth of laugh-out-loud badness. (Is portraying Jack Kirby as a midget alien warrior an accidental insult, or a misguided tribute?) But Vertigo: First Taste not only features some of the finest talent working in comics today, it contains one of the greatest comic books ever made.

The purpose of this trade is to promote the Vertigo line of books. Of the six comics included here, 3 come from series still being published; 1 is related to a new series featuring the same characters; 1 comes from a series that ended last year; and the last is part of a 3-issue mini-series.

Letís get the worst out of the way: Death: The High Cost of Living #1 really doesnít belong here. Yes, itís a great comic. Yes, itís great to see art by Chris Bachalo and his frequent partner Mark Buckingham that one can actually read. But itís 1/3 of a mini-series published over 10 years ago that spun-out from a series that ended 9 years ago. If anyone is moved to drop another $15 to get the other two parts of Death, theyíre going to feel ripped-off. Then again, maybe Vertigo is turning the Death character into a franchise. There is another TPB, (which wasnít bad), and the Death manga (which was). Another Death manga is on the way.

Still, there are better choices from the Vertigo family. Fables comes to mind; itís an ongoing series in need of exposure. Preacher #1 or Sandman #8 would also have worked. (Sandman #1 is too long and doesnít represent the overall series very well.) Itís too soon for Hellblazer. The political climateís right for The Invisibles. And with the popeís recent death, what could be more (in)appropriate than Lucifer?

As a whole, First Taste succeeds in getting you interested in some Vertigo comics and the entire line. They range from horror to sci-fi, from fantasy to young love, from urban crime to speculative fiction, (or whatever genre Y: The Last Man belongs to). The bookís strength lies with the individual issues. Y ends on the seriesí trademark cliffhanger. The reader is left with a desperate need to know what happens next. 100 Bullets gives a hint to a dark conspiracy that encourages revenge. Transmetropolitan is social/political satire crammed full with sex and drugs not yet invented. Life During Wartime sees a world torn by magic-based war, while its savior is in another reality; one where magic and religion donít exist. And Swamp Thing takes you inside the mind of the madman and leaves you changed.

Finally, there are lists of the many graphic novels published by Vertigo. All the comics I listed, plus Animal Man and The Doom Patrol, are included. The Vertigo website and Comics Shop Locater Service are also listed.

So as a showcase for its comics, First Taste is a 5/6 success. As a means of introducing new readers to the wider world of comics, itís a complete success. I think weíll be seeing a lot of these sold cheaply/given away on Free Comic Book Day. And if you donít own half of the books included here, go on and get it. Itís 6 comics for the price of 2. And if this book sells well enough, Vertigo might do it again. Or DC.

Wouldnít that be something?

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