Alasdair Stuart writes for Bleeding Cool
Vengeance, it seems, is a dish best served in up to nine panels. Maybe its just me but I’ve read a lot of comics about people seeking hideous vengeance for the hideous thing done to them hideously recently, and whilst it’s fun and all…well, let’s just say if Fluttershy vows eternal vengeance on Queen Celestia for stealing her cupcakes next week we’re going to need to sit the industry down to have a quiet word.
So Venezia, written by Wolf Beaumont and illustrated by Brian McCranie, Omi Remalante Jr and ET Dollman is a a pleasant surprise. This is a vengeance story, certainly, but it does three things that make you sit up and pay attention, maybe even dodge the odd arterial spray.
Firstly, the setting. Based in Venice, the book is full of the city’s beautiful architecture and, crucially, the city’s character. This isn’t a series set in Generic Fantasy City, or Seacouver, the mysterious hybrid of Vancouver and Seattle that every American TV show seemed to film in in the 1990s. This is a living, breathing city, a shifting canvas for this bloody story to unfold on and every on the creative team deserves kudos for nailing the feeling of ‘other’. Omi Remalante Jr is to be particularly complimented here, as the colours used perfectly evoke the idea of a damp, gaslight city by the sea, with blood about to spill on the cobbles.
Secondly, this is a creative team who clearly talk to one another. Sometimes you can see how closely a team works by how in line the art and the script are and here they move as one. Take the moment where the lead, preparing for her latest attack, remembers the circumstances of her parents’ murders. The script leads us through two time periods at once, whilst the art makes it clear which is which using nothing more than perspective. It’s clever visual storytelling and its repeated later when the lead dismantles her foes, the page becoming a whirlwind of violence defined by her movements.
Thirdly, there’s the very real possibility the heroine is completely deranged. The end of the first issue leaves the story in a fascinating place whether she’s sane or not, but, for me, the implication is that she’s hallucinating, as well as being a terrifying Venetian ninja. If I’m right, then this is less a book about vengeance and more about a human timebomb trying to do as much as she can before she detonates. If they don’t go with this, the book is an interesting crime story. If they do go with this option, the book is equal parts tragedy, noir and horror. Either way it has my attention.
Venezia is currently only available online, from what I can tell, and if you’re a fan of driven vigilantes then this is one for you. It wears it’s influences on its sleeve; Assassin’s Creed, hints of the Magdalena to the costume but that’s never a bad thing and this is a hard working creative team who’ve made something impressive. It deserves attention.