Friday, August 10, 2012

Michael Avon Oeming's "The Victories" from Dark Horse

Two things happen when a theme gets mega popular (ie; The Avengers elevating the superhero medium)...

1. Companies green light more projects with said theme
2. Creative types look to present said theme in a way we haven't seen before so that their material compliments what is popular instead of copying it. Well....SOME attempt this. Others just outright copy.

In the case of Darkhorse's new title "The Victories", it is clear we are looking at a creator with something to say. We have the rare opportunity to read a book with art and words erupting from the source and the result is nothing short of intense. Here's the tease from PR:
"Not long from now, all that will stand between you and evil are the Victories—six heroes sworn to protect us from crime, corruption, and the dark. As one member cracks down on the violence, he discovers himself touched by a painful past through the psychic powers of Link. Will this trauma cause him to self-destruct or continue the fight?"
What we are looking at, intentional or not, is the bastard child of Frank Miller, complete with the blocky silhouetted "hero", an ultra-violent moment set three steps into the future and a world hot to discuss him in great detail through the medium of Television. You might think I'm flat out saying this book robs wholesale from The Dark Knight Returns, but that is not the case. While the similarities are glaring, you'll find there is more below the surface. There is an anger in this art...maybe a frustration the creator is eager to rid himself of and this expelling of energy lands all over every panel. At the same time, there seems to be a touch of child-like glee in the action contained in this comic, something I've seen in the pages of Tank Girl whose creators revel in their perversity and crude jokes. If I didn't know any better, I'd guess a teenage boy gave birth to the work. The work plays very frantic and doesn't care that you are watching.

The Victories #1 begins with the introduction of The Jackal, a werewolf-like figure seemingly yanked from the animations of Batman Beyond, with a taste for justice and bloody conviction to exact it without need of courts and judges. Only Faustus stands in his way; a shadowy figure whose snappy battle banter is not as quick or effective as his combat strikes. It becomes evident these two have a past and diverged radically in their morals, suggesting this world has rung them dry and left them jaded. They are what this world has made of them, and even in the case of our hero, it ain't pretty. The action is frantic...spilling out of panels...overlapping..and landing squarely in your lap. The movement is fantastic while not being so inventive that you are left wondering which panel to read first. This comic is RAW in dialogue and content, but it does an amazing job of laying that content out in a very natural way. I've read comics where the creator was clearly trying to blow the top of my head off with sensational imagery and the immodest dropping of many an F-bomb, and I'm always left with that poseur taste in my mouth. The Victories is a dirty kid with a bad mouth in an alleyway with cuts and bruises goading his friends on to smash some florescent light bulbs they found in a dumpster. That kid is punk rock but he doesn't even know it. It is an authenticity that will keep me coming back as the larger story, only very slightly touched upon, unfolds in later issues.

I've read funny, violent comics..violent, funny, dirty comics.. and I'm a fan of the violent, shocking comic, but rarely does a book combine all these elements with compelling art and an energy you can feel through the ink. The Victories also has something to say and isn't looking to smack you upside the head with it. Over all, this is a first issue to be reckoned with. Though the content will be very familiar to seasoned comic fans, there is nothing typical here. If you are looking for a title to light a fire in your hold box at the local comic shop, this is it.

The Victories #1 is on sale August 14, 2012!

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