Indie Comics Spotlight: Vessels #1, Harley & Ivy Meet Betty & Veronica #1, and Eternity #1


By: Jonathan Pilley (@omnicomic)

Vessels #1

“Now go! Fulfill your oath. Seek out the one they call Wake.”

Living in older times was tough for a multitude of reasons. One of those is having to ascribe events to a seemingly unknown and incomprehensible entity. In the case of Vessels #1, that entity is looking to kill everyone. The issue is written by Dave Cook, illustrated by Rafael Desquitado, Jr., colored by Dennis Lehmann, and lettered by Garrett Gunn.

Experience a story that spans centuries, moving from the swashbuckling days of pirates, the Wild West, and to the future where the secret to an age-old mystery lies on a space station orbiting Earth. For thousands of years, the Vessel has been trapped on our planet. Now the time has come for it to return home. But its departure may be a harbinger of doom for every living thing on Earth.

The crux of the story in Vessels #1 is the seemingly never-ending struggle between good and evil, light and dark. Cook presents Cairnthala as a dying world being lorded over by the Eye-God and Wake is the hero the world needs but certainly doesn’t deserve. As a lead character, she’s a great mix of confidence and insecurities, all of which Cook brings together rather well for funneling the narrative through. Where the book really excels though is Cook’s peppering in instances of a different time altogether; it’s not really explained at all in the first issue, but will likely play a part as the book unfolds. These scenes are somewhat jarring in a way that allows Cook to keep the reader engaged without seeming completely out of place within the context of the narrative.

The artwork by Desquitado, Jr., is very appropriate for the tone of the story. He does a great job of blending together elements of a high-fantasy book through his rendering of a Middle Ages-inspired European village. Bold lines characterize the look of the players and the setting as Desquitado, Jr. emphasizes the varying looks of the villagers themselves. There are also some Dark Souls inspired characters who appear at the end of the issue, sporting some pretty terrifying looks. Lehmann’s colors are gold-tinged for most of the issue, as if to reflect the omnipresence of the Eye-God.

Vessels #1 is a very ambitious first issue that seeks to lay the groundwork for a seemingly compelling story. Wake is at the center of the universe and is truly powerful, making her a very fascinating character to follow. Cook’s script is thorough and engaging. The artwork by Desuitado, Jr., is a great fit for setting the atmosphere of the issue. Vessels #1 is the start of reaching for a very lofty goal in terms of storyline.

Vessels #1 is available now.

Harley & Ivy Meet Betty & Veronica #1

“Attention rabble! It’s the opportunity of your young, unfortunate lives!”

Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy have made names for themselves in the DC Universe as fierce characters willing to do whatever it takes to see their objective to the end. Betty Cooper and Veronica Lodge have made names for themselves in the Archie Comics universe as fierce characters willing to do whatever it takes to see their objective (typically social) to the end. It only makes sense that the two square off in Harley & Ivy Meet Betty & Veronica #1 from Archie Comics and DC Comics. The issue is written by Paul Dini and Marc Andreyko, illustrated by Laura Braga, colored by Tony Avina and Arif Prianto, and lettered by Deron Bennett.

Free college tuition for all Riverdale residents?! That’s the plan-after the town drains the wetlands that lie between it and Gotham City and then builds a new campus. The only snag? A certain botany-obsessed super-villain. When Poison Ivy enlists her bestie, Harley, to kidnap both Veronica Lodge, daughter of Riverdale’s most important citizen, and her friend Betty, she’s counting on some assistance-and the mayhem that ensues will probably work as well!

Crossing characters from different publishers can be a tricky thing to do, but kudos to Dini and Andreyko for pulling it off in Harley & Ivy Meet Betty & Veronica #1. Their script makes a lot of sense in regards to how it treats the characters, hitting all their characteristics in a way that doesn’t seem too out of character. Much like the CW series Riverdale, Archie isn’t the focal point at all really as Dini and Andreyko allow the characters of Harley Quinn, Poison Ivy, Betty and Veronica to breathe on their own. The dialogue is pretty excellent in that regard as well; the writing duo really knows what makes the characters tick and that shows. The ending of the first issue also has a pretty lighthearted twist that sets the stage for the remainder of the series that allows the issue to straddle both worlds with ease.

Braga’s illustrations really give the book a tremendous finish. All of the characters are easily recognizable throughout the issue with Braga rendering everyone as much more mature and more like adults as opposed to teenagers. The approach also gives the book much more of a comic book feel which helps as two of the characters in Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy hail from the more superhero-focused publisher (even if it does make the Riverdale side of things feel a little more superhero-ish as well). This is also picked up in the panel layouts as Braga is clearly bringing a much more big-publisher approach to the artwork – it’s certainly not bad at all, but the style feels a lot like page after page of pin-ups. The colors by Avina and Prianto are bold and vivid throughout.

Harley & Ivy Meet Betty & Veronica #1 is a lot of fun as it doesn’t take itself too seriously while at the same time giving readers plenty of page-time with all the characters. Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy are on their mission that will pit them against Betty Cooper and Veronica Lodge who are on their own mission as well. Dini and Andreyko get a little meta with the writing and the issue plays out a lot like a one-off episode of Batman: The Animated Series would have. Braga’s artwork is gorgeous and definitely hews more modern-day comic as opposed to nostalgic Archie style. Harley & Ivy Meet Betty & Veronica #1 is definitely worth taking the time to read as it’s just plain enjoyable.

Harley & Ivy Meet Betty & Veronica #1 is available now.

Eternity #1

“The brothers must know! But many eyes are open.”

There are characters in every universe who are more powerful than others. The most powerful are the ones at the top who move players around for the perceived benefit of the universe at large, but whether or not they really are keeping the best interests of everyone at the forefront remains to be seen. In Eternity #1 from Valiant Comics, big changes are afoot. The issue is written by Matt Kindt and illustrated by Trevor Hairsine.

Beyond time… Beyond space… Beyond reality itself… Eternity awaits! A new plane of existence is unveiled beyond our own and unleashes a universe of new worlds, new beings, and new myths…

To say that Eternity #1 is out there would be a massive understatement, but Kindt manages to corral the cosmic zaniness. All of the players involved in the issue operate on an entirely differently level (literally, it’s another plane) and Kindt is exploring that plane in earnest with setting up the events of the series. Kindt does a pretty solid job of keeping a hold on things despite all the galaxy jumping, but there are some instances where the transitions feel a little more jarring – it’s as if there’s too much being crammed into one issue. The dialogue is relatively straightforward and simplistic in its aim of getting the reader for what’s coming even if the premise behind the series at large is a little well-traveled at this point. And because everyone involved is so powerful there’s something of a tedium to their problems that seems to slow the issue down even more.

Hairsine’s artwork is very clean and strong. His approach matches the ethereal tone of the script and gives the reader plenty of insight into the wide variety of beings who inhabit various corners of the universe. The settings on Earth are pretty ho-hum, but when Hairsine goes into space he really stretches the imagination as far as what other worlds would possibly look like. Because much of the book features the characters essentially monologuing, Hairsine doesn’t get much opportunity to showcase them in various states of action and/or combat – there’s really just a lot of standing around. The muted colors finish the book with a certain drabness that does reign in the art a little bit and allowing it to better resonate with the tone of the characters.

Eternity #1 explores one of the more powerful characters in the Valiant Universe. Divinity and Myshka are very powerful in their own rights, but even all their power can’t solve every problem immediately. Kindt throws them a curveball to make the series interesting, even if the first issue seems to involve a lot of really omnipotent beings discussing current galactic events. Hairsine’s artwork offers a pretty creative look at the aforementioned universe and its inhabitants. Eternity #1 has some new takes on some familiar characters, mixing in quite a bit of intergalactic trippiness for good measure.

Eternity #1 is available now.

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