By: Geoff Johns & Andrew Kreisberg (story), Pete Woods (pencils), Sean Parsons (inks), Brad Anderson (colors)
The Story: One day you’re trying to sell point-and-shoots, the next you’re battling Parademons.
The Review: In my review of the other JLA spin-off title,* I talked about the different reasons people pick up certain books and how for me and Katana, it was a matter of supporting any series that attempts to promote some diversity in the mostly homogenous world of comics. While I don’t disapprove of putting new faces in familiar brands, I do respect original creations more, and while Vibe may be lacking in some areas, he at least has more originality than most.
Once again, I thank my lucky stars that I’m not so immersed in continuity that I bring old prejudices to this series. While I’ve heard the jokes and stories about Vibe, I can’t say I’ve ever read a single thing with him actually in it. So what do I think of my very first exposure to the much maligned superhero? I have no idea how much he resembles his previous incarnation, but Cisco Ramon as he stands now is a very endearing sort of character.
Establishing his sibling relationships from the start sort of immediately sets him apart from a lot of the other supers, most of whom have rather grim, forgettable family lives, if any at all. In contrast, Cisco’s bonds with his brothers, both dead and alive, feels sincere and credible. You can also tell how their lives shaped Cisco’s. The late Armando’s determination to be the first Ramon to go to college to help his family is about the last thing he says before his death, and it clearly impresses on his youngest brother, as Cisco has picked up that goal as his own.
Both Armando and Cisco’s sense of responsibility stand in sharp contrast to middle bro Dante, who scoffs at the value of education at every turn (“So we can be unemployed like every other graduate out there?” “A college degree doesn’t mean anything anymore.”). Fortunately, Johns-Kreisberg avoid turning Dante into the archetypical slacker/moocher, in part because Cisco firmly stands up to that kind of behavior and in part because for all his flaws, Dante has an honest and caring bond with his younger brother. The two don’t shy away from the subject of Armando’s death, and Dante freely admits he feels guilt over it every day in his own way.
All this is well and good, but it’s the superheroics we came for. Although controlling vibrations doesn’t sound like the most amazing power in the world, Cisco shows off some creative uses of his abilities, defensively and offensively (giving more oomph to his punches, for example), even against a mostly manufactured threat. But given that Cisco’s job from this day onward is to handle any nasties that slip out of their proper dimensions,* that’s basically a promise of bigger, crazier action to come.
But the real draw of this series is that you have Johns writing it and he knows how to play in the DCU sandbox. Not only do you get a glimpse of the other “subjects” A.R.G.U.S. has captured over the years (including Pariah of Crisis on Infinite Earths fame and Gypsy, also a former Justice League Detroit alum like Vibe), you also get a huge cliffhanger revelation when Amanda Waller muses as to whether they’ll be ready to face Darkseid when he returns “…for his daughter.” Even if the rest of this issue stank, how could you resist the allure of that?
Woods once again proves to be one of the most adaptable artists in DC’s ranks. Here, he strikes a very pleasing middle ground between the more sophisticated, detailed work he did on Action Comics (with Paul Cornell) and the looser, livelier style he applied on Legion Lost. The issue looks confident and relaxed, but has plenty of depth and shape for you to take it seriously. Once you add Anderson’s eye-popping colors, this is definitely art for a top-notch mainstream title.
Conclusion: A solid effort for a character who apparently has a lot to prove. It’s as much as you can expect from any comic book debut: a likable hero, an interesting premise, some good action and drama, and strong art.
- Minhquan Nguyen
Some Musings: * And I do think it’s quite interesting that you can have a spin-off to something that isn’t even an established series just yet.
* Though I’m not sure how I feel about Cisco referring to himself as a “border cop.” Why invite that kind of political scrutiny?
- Anyone recognize any of the other “subjects” in the A.R.G.U.S. facility?
Filed under: DC Comics, Reviews Tagged: | A.R.G.U.S., Andrew Kreisberg, Brad Anderson, Cisco Ramon, Darkseid, DC, DC Comics, Geoff Johns, Gypsy, Pariah, Pete Woods, Sean Parsons, Vibe, Vibe #1, Vibe #1 review