The comic world seems to be missing out on something special because DC Comics Vibe is one of the best super-hero books on the market right now, a fun, fast, classic-feeling take on the teenage super-hero struggling to come to grips with his powers and doing what is right.
Vibe #6, which came out last week, continues this trend. While maintaining a solid theme of family fidelity, Gates continues to show just how difficult it can be to do what is right in this cynical world we live in. Moreover, he shows that sometimes it is the young and optimistic who can remind the older and jaded that they can return to light.
But what truly amazes me about this book is the breakneck speed that Gates is bringing to the book. The main action in this book is a breakout at the Circus. It is spurred on by Vibe fighting against A.R.G.U.S. And we have the return of a character we thought dead. All that in six issues! In standard comic timelines, the first 6 issues would be Vibe's first mission, the next 6 would his questioning of ARGUS, and the third issue would be the revolt and escape from the Circus. But why wait!
Part of me wonders if some of the pace is being dictated by sales. The book isn't doing well and maybe DC needs some part of Vibe's story to play out before cancellation. It is a shame. Maybe it is the very idea of Vibe that has kept people away, thinking he is the parody break dancer from the 80's. But the truth is this book is a bright spot in the bleak tapestry of the DCnU. Here is a young hero with ideals and morals and optimism inspiring people! If you are complaining about how dark DC is, you need to be reading this book.
Last issue, Vibe helped Gypsy escape and as a result was captured and imprisoned by A.R.G.U.S. It was clear that Cisco was not going to be able to abide by the rather draconian view of breachers that Amanda Waller and ARGUS espoused.
The idea of family love and protecting your loved ones has been a thread running through this book. Cisco feels compelled to do good because of the sacrifice of his brother. Cisco then tries to protect his father and brother Dante from any of the fallout from his life as a JLAer.
Now the tables are turned a bit. With Cisco dropping off the grid, Dante decides he needs to help his brother for once. And the best person to turn to is Dale Gunn. Gunn is a great foil for Cisco. He also works for ARGUS but has allowed his fear harm befalling his loved ones (protecting his husband) to tarnish his ideals and maybe fall in line and follow orders a bit too much. But you can see the sympathy for Cisco's ideals and some need to do what's right bubbling under the surface.
Now why Dante thinks he needs to shatter a window with a soccer ball to get Gunn's attention is a stretch. I suppose ringing the doorbell wouldn't be as dramatic.
As for Gypsy, we heard a snapshot of her origin last issue. Even then I wondered why Waller is so keen on keeping her trapped and has labeled her such a huge threat. Gypsy seems to be just a marooned young woman.
There must be more to her story to garner such close attention. And Waller teases us with this statement. What is Gypsy's true story?
Amazingly, Dante convinces Gunn that they have to rescue Cisco. They sneak in with Dante dressed up as a 'dog soldier' breacher.
As I said, that idea of family is such a strong undercurrent here. Armando, Vibe's older brother who died in the Apokolips invasion, is considered the first subject, the first breacher because he absorbed some of the vibrational energy.
Despite their stealth, Gunn and Dante are discovered. So rather than a quiet rescue mission, Dante blasts Cisco's prison tube apart. I love this quiet moment amid the chaos as the two brothers reunite.
Again, Dante is portrayed as something of a slacker. So to see him risk all this for Cisco shows how his brother's heroism is inspiring.
I also love ... love ... that we hear that Cisco's middle name is Paco (that being the original Vibe's name).
Gates' turns things up a notch when the A.R.G.U.S. troops arrive to contain Vibe. Dante is shot in the chest. Nice dramatic panel here by Pete Woods. You can feel the impact here. There is no way a 'normal' human could survive a bullet through the middle of the chest like this. Dante does get to say a few more words but I have to assume he dies here.
Is this a 'great power, great responsibility' moment? How will Cisco react to this? How will he avenge his brother? Will this make him turn more to the light to make sure this doesn't happen to anyone else? Or will he become mired by this evil and respond in kind. This is a reminder about how difficult and dangerous it is to do what's right. It would be easy to turn to the dark side. Fight not monsters Cisco, lest ye become a monster.
Unfortunately, I moved past Dante's being shot (and presumed death) pretty quickly when I saw all the other Circus prisoners who have been let loose by Vibe.. The DC geek in me let the drama and power of that Dante moment melt away in the excitement of seeing a bunch of beloved characters.
Abnazer, Rath, and Ghast!
The Nebula Man!
The Warlock of Ys!!
LADY QUARK !!!
We even see more of the Scissormen and Gates has them talk in their peculiar speech. Adumbrate the breadfruit!!!
There are even a couple I don't recognize.
Vibe's powers continue to ripple out and we see again the fabric of the world torn by his vibrations. Glimpses of other dimensions peek through the tears in space.
More intriguing is Vibe's dialogue. Voices in his head. Drums beating. Echoes. Is someone from one of the other sides trying to communicate with Cisco?
Again, great art by Pete Woods here.
Amazingly, Dante seems to still be alive, held up by Cisco here. Hmmmm.
Before I could dwell on that, the weakness in the dimensional fabric is cut from the other side by a scythe-wielding warrior called Rupture.
And, as hinted at, we hear a bit more about Gypsy's story. I said last issue it was a bit of a risk for Cisco to simply take Gypsy's Cinderella origin story as truth. Maybe she was hiding something. She knows that there is a someone named Mordeth - a mass murderer bent on controlling all dimensions. And Rupture is Mordeth's hound here. Gypsy assumes he is her for her.
It sounds like her father was battling Mordeth. Maybe he tucked her away on our dimension to keep her safe. A bit more plausible than the 'wicked step-mother' line she gave last issue.
Could an inter-dimensional story be coming up? Vibe vs. Mordeth on another plane of existence?
Then Gates blows the doors off the joint.
Rupture unmasks to show he is actually Armando, the presumed dead older brother!
Whoa ... nice cliffhanger!
What did I say above - fast, fun, and classic. I love the adherence to 'doing good' by the characters here. Gunn going against protocol to save Vibe and Dante acting grown-up and trying to save his brother show the effect Cisco has had on them. Immense action here with a bevy of DC dimensional characters was the highliight for me. But the addition of Armando and the villain in hiding 'Mordeth' is probably the biggest news for this title. Seriously, more story has happened in 6 months of this book than in the 2+ years of many of the DCnU books.
I'll ask those who haven't read the book to try it. I'll ask those who read the book to talk it up. This is a winner!