Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Review: Vibe #5

Vibe #5 came out last week and certainly had the title take something of a left hand turn onto a new path. It is interesting to see things change so quickly here rather than simmering slowly. I wonder just how much this quick pace and shift in story is being driven by the unfortunate poor sales numbers on this book.

In this issue, Vibe goes from being an agent of ARGUS to being a fugitive hunted down by the very agency he has served. We had seen in the early issues of the book that Vibe was starting to question whether or not he was truly working for the 'good guys'. Whether it be Kid Flash or this issue's Gypsy, Vibe can't just hang his hat that he is doing the right thing. And that questioning of their authority would have been a great thing to slowly heat up over time until it hit a full boil.

There would be an awful lot to explore there. Cisco's family would be endangered if he runs. He is being compensated/rewarded by Argus for his service. There are probably real threats that ARGUS is dealing with. There could be a lot of plot lines and hand wringing about turning on them.

No complaints about this issue as things move forward quickly and ends with a fantastic cliffhanger. I was hoping that this decision to run would be more drawn out.

Pete Woods is on art on the book with inks by Sean Parsons. Parsons brings a sort of Cully Hamner flourish to Woods excellent pencils which makes this book very visually appealing. Brett Booth pencils the cover with great design.

Last issue, Vibe decided to help Gypsy rather than bring her in. With the ARGUS troops closing in, Vibe makes that bold decision. He is going to quit his job dramatically, turning on the troops and helping Gypsy escape.

I think it is interesting that Cisco decides to completely trust Gypsy as quickly as he decides to turn against ARGUS. This shows just how new Vibe is to this game. She actually could be the vanguard to an invasion who has charmed him. I would have liked at least one panel where he weighs what he knows of both sides before changing his life so profoundly.

After all trusting Gypsy completely is no different than trusting ARGUS completely.

Dale Gunn has always appeared to be his own man, working for ARGUS but not necessarily blindly following orders. I like how he stands up to Amanda Waller, asking her for some leniency with Cisco. Vibe is just a kid only doing what he thinks is right.

Unfortunately, Waller isn't buying this. She sends in the Suicide Squad to clean up this mess.

I don't think Gunn's role in Cisco's life is over. My guess is he is going to be an ally in this mess.

On the run, Cisco goes off-line, destroying any tech that he could be tracked by. While running, Gypsy gives us a one panel origin story.

She comes from a dimension-hopping family who has been stranded here by her ... wait for it ... evil step-mother. As daughter of the caravan leader, she might even be a princess. This isn't lost on Cisco. He says she has walked out of a fairy tale.

Now Gypsy needs to find a dimensional rift to rejoin her caravan. This leads to the best pages in the book.

Cisco is still learning his powers and we get to see him figure things out. It leads to some wonderful images like this one.

Vibe decides to open up his eyes to all the dimensions to see if he can hone in on Gypsy's. We get this fantastic 2 page wide-screen panel showing the dimensions just behind the veil of our reality. It looks like a hole-riddled quilt. Some of these other dimensions look relatively 'normal'. But in others we have fairy appearing people, dinosaurs, and futuristic buildings.

I thought this was great, grabbing me as a reader visually and showing the potential for this book.

It is almost too much for Vibe to take in. So to help him concentrate, Gypsy kisses him.

As someone who grew up reading about teenage heroes struggling with their powers, feeling a little isolated, and often being socially awkward, this felt like a classic moment. Who wouldn't want to be kissed by an extra-dimensional princess? Again, this felt perfect for the book. With that contact, her particular dimension pattern becomes clearer.

Hmmm ... maybe physical contact with breachers somehow gives Paco information about where they came from? Maybe helps him open up specific portals? Hope this is explored soon.

The next pages are a decent fight sequence between Vibe and Gypsy against the Suicide Squad.

Vibe ends up skirmishing with a villain named Crowbar. During that battle, Vibe ends up using his power full throttle. After some buildup, the battle explodes with vibrational energy and when the dust clears, Crowbar is simply gone.

Again, we are seeing Vibe's powers as they manifest. I doubt Crowbar was vaporized. Instead, I bet he has been shunted to some other dimension. It is a brief reprieve as Vibe is knocked unconscious shortly thereafter by Deadshot.

While the two page dimension-viewing spread was my favorite moment of the book, this was an extremely close second.

Gypsy tries to hide in plain sight as King Shark but that is literally sniffed out by Harley Quinn. While we can't see all of it, I have to assume that Harley knocks out Gypsy with the giant wooden mallet she uses. That is equal parts ridiculous, brutal, and fabulous. Perfect for Harley!

And suddenly Gyspy and Cisco are imprisoned, bottled in the Circus. And when Vibe tries to escape, the tube ends up binding him even tighter.

Again, Dale Gunn comes out as the voice of reason and I presume an eventual ally to Vibe. He asks how many people Waller will imprison for 'safety'.

Given what I have read, the next two issues are going to be a crazy breakout from the circus which means we might get to see other extra-dimensional DC characters in the book.

So overall a rapid and very fun ride with dramatic character movement forward. I would have expected this sort of story more around issue twelve of this series, so to get it so early is interesting to me. How will this effect the JLA book? Will this remain a 'teen hero discovering his place' book? Or will the cruel reality of rebelling against a black ops system with family and friends being caught in the crossfire end up working into the book? Will trusting ARGUS then trusting Gypsy leave Cisco jaded and cautious? Or will he continue to try to help those he feels need it without reservation.

This book has been consistently entertaining. It has a classic 'struggling young hero' feel like early Spiderman, Firestorm, etc. But it also is moving at a breakneck pace which leaves you breathless as a reader, wanting to read more almost immediately. It is a shame that sales aren't healthy. People are missing out on a great little comic here.

Overall grade: B+

1 comment:

Martin Gray said...

Waller really is vile in the New 52 - yes, maybe Gypsy is a bad egg, but to just throw people into prison, set killers on them? I want her gone from my DC books.

I'm not sure the fight was handled brilliantly, the Suicide Squad would pile on, not fight Vibe individually.

I'm thrilled that we don't have a year of Vibe working out that maybe ARGUS aren't the best of the good guys, this makes him seem sharper. I don't think Amanda will take revenge against Paco's family, I get the impression she takes a hands-off approach to normals.

Is this the first time we've seen that Spanner, of the Spanner's Galaxy mini series, is in the tubes?

Great book, great review!