Indie Comics Spotlight: The Victories, Call Me Perilous, Gladiator
by Jonathan Pilley (@omnicomic)
The Victories #5
All good things must come to an end, and if the previous issues are any indication, then The Victories #5 from Dark Horse is slated to be something crazy. As in Jackal crazy. The title is written and illustrated by Michael Avon Oeming, colors by Nick Filardi and letters by Aaron Walker.
Faustus is in jail. He’s facing an extended stay unless he’s willing to let someone help him who he’d really rather not help him in the Jackal. The deranged lunatic offers his assistance to Faustus on the condition that Faustus become a killer in a sense, all in an attempt to extract revenge against the Mark, Faustus’ former master.
To this point, Oeming has pitched Faustus as an almost eternally conflicted hero, struggling to be both someone the city needs as a protector while also living his own life. As is often the case with superheroes and dual-identities, that never works out. Fortunately for Faustus, his identity is so tied up in his superhero persona, that there’s often a lot of overlap between his two lives. Even when he doesn’t have on the mask, he’s still tied to the Faustian ideas and code he lives by as the superhero. Jackal has made it a point to force him to pervert that code in the name of vengeance, something very similar to the Joker and Batman in The Dark Knight. There’s a dynamic between both Jackal and Faustus that’s just sick in a way, which makes for great storytelling.
The art in the fifth and final issue helps the series finish strong. The fight between Faustus and the Mark is brutal and violent, punctuated by the Jackal’s involvement as a strong punctuation mark (no pun intended). The entire book is an explosion of emotion told through art and bold color changes, making sure your attention is kept throughout the entire issue. One more thing on the art: Jackal is deranged not only through his actions, but through his appearance. Just about every panel has his tongue hanging out and wagging, regardless of what he’s doing at the time. It sort of adds this loony dimension to him and makes him seem that much more of a complete nutjob. And it’s awesome.
Seeing the end of The Victories is a little bittersweet, but fear not! It’s clear that Oeming has more stories in mind to tell as the fifth and final issue ended in a way that leaves the door open for more Faustus and Jackal. The Victories #5 is a satisfying conclusion to the miniseries and is definitely worth checking out.
The Victories #5 should be in stores December 12.
Call Me Perilous #1
If your resume includes “resident alien,” “scientist” and/or “kung-fu master,” then chances are you’ve got quite a storied past. Perilous is such a character and–after his debut in Valhalla Cindermane–is getting his own comic in Call Me Perilous #1 from Enemy Transmission. The first issue is written by Michael Kuty and illustrated by Daniel G.A. Goiz.
Perilous is a blue man with none of the rhythm and more of the combat prowess. He’s something of a problem-solver, tapped for his unique abilities to save the day. His latest tour of duty involves curbing riots stemming from Rage Gas, a unique, biological warfare weapon that turns crowds ravenous. Things aren’t what they seem, however, and at the end of the issue, Perilous finds himself in a situation worthy of his nickname.
The first issue is actually a little on the crazy side. The story moves at a breakneck pace, introducing Perilous, thrusting him in the middle of chaos and then having him work to figure it out. He’s got a love interest and the relationship is reminiscent of Dr. Manhattan’s in Watchmen…they’re even both blue. But Perilous does have some history, and fans of Enemy Transmission’s work Valhalla Cindermane will feel right at home. That’s not to say that Call Me Perilous #1 isn’t accessible to new readers. For a first issue, it’s got enough intrigue to grab the reader’s attention. The story sort of jumps around quite a bit, mostly owing to the fact that there’s just so much going on. Perilous is sufficiently capable of holding his own and seeing how he escapes the predicament at the end of the issue will be interesting.
The art by Goiz has a glossy look to it. Characters are illustrated with an overabundance of detail and shadows, especially Perilous. His muscles are very well defined and there’s heavy shading on his entire body, contrasting sharply with his blue color. The mob scenes are effective at showcasing the bedlam and his blue stands out amidst the red rage.
There are some noteworthy developments in the first issue; and quite a few characters and a reasonable plot introduced, but the issue is a little jumpy. It all settles down in the end and there are clear threads being established for future issues. Fans of powered beings, vampires and gorillas will be on board for Call Me Perilous #1.
The Equation #1 is available now.
Proving temporary insanity is no easy feat. It’s something the courts rely on in many cases to either prove guilt or innocence, yet in some cases the line isn’t so clear. What if the person really is a gladiator as opposed to thinking he’s one? That’s the premise behind Gladiator from Red Tempest Comics. The issue is written by Ricardo Ferrari and illustrated by Oscar Capristo.
Caladus is one of the most feared gladiators of his time, making short work of any and all comers. He’s also a prisoner wanted for fourteen murders (beheadings actually) whose trial is set to determine whether or not he actually is a gladiator or just insane. While in prison, he proves without a doubt he has the capabilities of a gladiator, but the jury is still out on whether or not he actually is one.
Ferrari’s tale is pretty intriguing actually. He takes the concept of reincarnation in a sense, in that Caladus is someone who’s seemingly fought through the ages. The thing is, he never lost his gladiator mentality, prompting him to respond to situations in any time as if he were in ancient Rome. It’s a rather unique story and the entire time you’re wondering whether or not he’s actually a gladiator in modern day or if he’s just insane.
The art by Capristo is subtle, but extremely effective. It’s a style that suits the work very well, not relying on an abundance of blood and gore to get his point across that Caladus is someone you shouldn’t trifle with. It’s all black and white with heavy shading at some points for effect. Some panels are a little difficult to interpret as far as what’s going on, but those are few and far between.
Gladiator is an inventive book that poses the question of what would happen if a gladiator lived in modern times. It’s likely he would still have that caged fighter mentality, adapted to work better with technological advancements of the present. The book posits that he would be just as fierce out of the arena as inside it and that’s something everyone who crosses the path of Caladus can attest to.
Gladiator is available now from the publisher’s website with interiors below.