Vertigo is back, which is a strange thing to say as they didn’t actually go away. Yet this book feels like a new start for the DC imprint.
The book starts with a loss and continues heaving loss onto Chloe Pierce who looks to give into the depth of her despair with a very personal decision which is taken away from her by the Haverlin brothers. From there we learn the focal point for Chloe’s state of mind is the author of the book, An Honest World, Astrid Mueller. Mueller it seems is able to generate two extremes in people, you either love her or you fear her. Chloe decides to take her fear and challenge Mueller, giving away home field advantage to the Clean Room.
Gail Simone is synonymous with writing strong women, from Canary and Batgirl to Red Sonja. Simone is also not afraid to write characters who may, at first glance, seem to be damaged in some way, whether through disability or in this case, through the perceived mental health. Simone doesn’t disappoint in this instance. Chloe’s frailty at the start of the book seems to build on the idiom that when you are at rock bottom, the only place you can go is up. The writing is engaging, with the characters having a well rounded feel. As its Simone, there has to be a red head, in this case its the aforementioned Astrid Mueller. Plot wise, there are moments that seem derivative of a certain Al Pacino and Keanu Reeves film. But this is the first issue, so we will see how things go.
Former 2000AD artist Jon Davis-Hunt brings a clean look to the book, which features in this first issue quite a number of characters and situations. At times, Davis-Hunt takes a less is more approach to his own inks which may give the impression of blankness of facial expression. Davis-Hunt overcomes this with some clever use of images in the panels, focussing on parts of the face rather than letting the background emphasis details, which would serve as a visual disconnect. Davis-Hunt is also the colourist, providing strong colors throughout the book that if anything, are maybe too bright.
I am a fan of Simone and I am glad to see her produce something of substance, following on from the over long Swords of Sorrow books from Dynamite. The book reads well, looks great and I am looking forward to the battle of wills between Chloe and Astrid that seems to be on the horizon.