Story: Donny Cates; Pencils: Ryan Stegman; Inks: JP Mayer; Colors: Sonia Oback; Letters & Design: John J. Hill.
Image Comics' new series Vanish, created by Donny Cates and Ryan Stegman, begins September 21st with the release of Vanish #1. A brilliant, though familiar, hulk-smashing of genres gives way to a story with bombastic visuals and enticing writing. A healthy dose of fantasy wrapped in a prescription of capes-and-cowls (with a stunning anti-hero no less!) means this series may just be what the doctor ordered.
This initial issue plays with big superhero tropes, but struggles to inject anything new to the approach. There are plenty of expectation-subverting moments, but overall the superhero elements seem like an afterthought, a way to keep readers moving on to the next issue. This does not inhibit the story itself, however. While frantic, often jolting from place to place, and time to time, exposition dump to exposition dump, this team manages to reign in the mania with a clear idea and direction. This issue is about introducing its main character and it does one helluva job doing so; aside from the sadly cookie-cutter style, the clear writing and dynamic visuals injected with oh so much gore make Vanish #1 a clumsy but plucky first step.
The visuals in this book are vivid and create a dimensionality that gives everything more depth, which in turn is filled with saturated black shadows and flowing linework. This flow gives darkness a living quality as it flows across and even borders whole panels, informing the darker tone of our titular "hero". Many moments in the art brought me back to my earlier days reading the original Spawn, with imposing figures and chiseled everything to match darkness galore and visceral action — both of which are found in abundance here.
Vanish #1 earns 3 out of 5 POPs in my book!
Catch this genre-blending beast when it hits the shelves of your LOCAL COMIC BOOK SHOP (!!!) or on Image Comics' website on September 21!
If Donny Cates' meddling with genres is your cup of tea, then you may very like his intrusions into satantic panic and teenage angst in the pages of Aftershock Comics' Babyteeth. If you're in the mood for more bombastic story and visuals I'd direct you to either God Country or Crossover , both from Image Comics and Donny Yates.
Austin Kemp read Batman #315 (Batman vs Kite Man) when he was 5 years old, and hasn't stopped reading comics since. Austin is a college writing teacher and has a masters degree in Comics Studies. Austin and his partner, Savanah, live in Massachusetts with their master, a cat named Chaplin.