Vertigo is probably my favourite comic book publisher, in that I buy more of a percentage of their published titles than any other. But here I find myself reviewing two comics that seem steeped in Vertigo, yet not published by them.
And yes, talking about Brightest Day #23 in this way I’m going to have to use spoilers. And that means spoilers beyond the last page posted yesterday as well.
Not that you’d see the Vertigoness straight away. It’s colourful bright superheroes saving the day all over the world and the machinations of the White Ring becoming clearer just as the threat also gains some clarity. And the threat is a very familiar Vertigo character indeed, the branches and vines on its body darkened as the phrase “the Green has become the Black” echoes through Star Forest. We learn the true nature of the tree. Which all gives that spoiler page so much more resonance.
I mean, okay, it’s not a Vertigo comic. It’s a DC event comic, but Swamp Thing has become such an icon for Vertigo it’s suddenly become hard to separate the two on the page. And, disappointingly, it’s not a particularly good Swamp Thing, I think I may have preferred China Mieville’s version, machine guns and all. And despite all the machinations being depcited and coming to fruition, it doesn’t have the deviousness or complexity that Fear Itself seems to have shown in its first issue.
Green Wake from Image, another first issue, feels just like a Vertigo comic, more so than many current Vertigo comics do. It’s bleak, it’s ugly, colours are knocked back with in murkiness where “the Black has become the Green”. With such a prominent colour shown in the title and on the page, it feels as this will become very relevant very quickly.
Because, while never stated, this is a murder mystery set in Purgatory. Seriously, doesn’t that sound like a Neil Gaiman or Mike Carey plot to you? With two police partners, one of whom is growing more and more inhuman. And a flashforward to a tragic accident, of which there is no escape. And a tale setting up all the events that lead to this inevitable ending – or beginning, depending on your point of view.
Just as Green Wake blurs the page, so the narrative is blurred. There’s never a moment when you’re totally convinced who and what you are reading. The comic seems to seep into you, it’s a transformative reading experience, even as the characters and plot slip from your fingers in all the green ooze. Where Brightest Day left me empty, Green Wake drains me into itself. There are so many points of view, figures with their own desires and needs that you just aren’t party to, it’s as intriguing as Twin Peaks, with touches of Strangehaven, Hellblazer and The Prisoner along with it.
Comics courtesy of Orbital Comics, London. Find their most recent podcast with me and Gary Erskine, right here.