I was lamenting (to myself) a few months ago that Vertigo Comics had really let itself go. It seemed that the majority of their publications were re-hashing past successes like The Sandman or Swamp Thing. And a lot of the new stuff was fairly realistic crime comics like DMZ, 100 Bullets, or The Losers. Basically, stuff you could find elsewhere. I thought Vertigo was about pushing the envelope and providing an outlet for high-end alternative comics?
As if they heard me, Vertigo has recently released three new titles - all of which are worthy of picking up:
American Virgin - This is fun and is the most different from the average comic fodder. There's only been one issue so far, so it's hard to judge. I liked what I read so far and the author started a lot of threads that can go somewhere interesting.
Adam Chamberlain is a 20-year-old youth minister, a best-selling author, and most important, the head of a rabid national virginity movement. But practicing virgin or not...Adam is about to lose it. Just a few weeks shy of marrying the girl of his dreams — the only woman God has said he can ever know sexually — Adam's fate, future and sex life are cast in direct opposition with God's Word.
The Exterminators - If you can handle it, this is a fun and twisted series. It's definitely not for the faint of heart. But it's also not pointlessly mean-spirited. By issue #3, it starts to poke its head out of the murky angst that it's mired in.
The series centers on a dysfunctional group of bug killers prowling the barrios and bungalows of Los Angeles — the thinnest point on the shaky borderline between civilization and the violent chaos of nature.
Testament - It's a little too soon for me to be able to say what this series about. So far, it's taking stories from the Old Testament and applying them to a sci-fi future based around issues that we see in play today's government - privacy, war and recruitment. Here's the DC blurb about it:
From the imagination of best-selling author Douglas Rushkoff (Coercion, Club Zero-G), one of the most iconoclastic and acclaimed minds of our era, comes a series that exposes the "real" Bible as it was actually written, and reveals how its mythic tales are repeated today.So there you go. Smart, interesting, and alternative comics. Go for it. Buy en masse.
I've often thought the problem with the modern comics market is that everyone associates comics with costume clad superheroes. There's no reason to think that:
- Just because the characters are superheroes doesn't mean it's vacuous
- Not all comic books are about superheroes
If the comic industry is to grow to its next step, it's getting more people to buy comic books by convincing people there's more out there than just kid stuff.
So congratulations to Vertigo for pushing the boundaries. I hope they get the support they need to continue.