OK. Vibe isn’t selling big numbers. That must stop, now. Because the sixth issue is once again one of the smartest, most fun superhero books available today. And it features one of the biggest scenes since DC rebooted its universe.
Said scene involves the escape of a batch of prisoners from the Circus facility run by the US government’s super-secret ARGUS organisation. They’re freed by the powers of Vibe, who begins this issue as a prisoner himself, having displeased resident tyrant Amanda Waller.
So who frees Vibe, otherwise known as Cisco Paco Ramon? Step up big brother Dante, who persuades Waller’s number two, Dale Gunn, that he owes it to Cisco to get him out of the Circus’s stasis tubes. Disguised as a new ‘breacher’ – an extra-dimensional threat to Earth – Dante is marched into ARGUS, and that’s when the fun really begins. By issue’s end I’m wondering if Vibe’s new friend Gypsy is actually the daughter of a very famous denizen of the DC universe, and whether the price of helping his brother will prove a high one for Dante.
Oh, and there’s a big surprise. One writer Sterling Gates, in a recent interview, challenged readers to anticipate. Nope, I never saw it coming – it’s not actually something you could work out, more one for the random guessers out there – but it’s going to make things even more interesting.
Also around this issue is Gunn’s husband Casey, who rather disappoints with his attitude that Gunn should go along meekly with the plans of Waller, who treats the Circus like a metahuman Guantanamo Bay. We learn that he’s ex-CIA, tossed out for insubordination, and has apparently left his spine behind; hopefully he’ll look to Dante – previously presented as something of a slacker – and step up.
Because this really is Dante’s peak. He’s the motivator of the action, and the guy through whose eyes we see the inhumanity of the Circus. He inspires Gunn, and he frees Cisco.
A couple of things made me giggle. First, the continuing line in the opening legend telling us that Vibe is ‘the second youngest member of the Justice League of America’ – random. Then there’s an evil place we hear of named Mordeth, which presumably ceded from the nation of Subtle.
It’s good to smile, amid the more intense moments of drama. And this series presents plenty of those, as event piles on event, with set-ups quickly paid off. If you’re at all interested in the cosmology of the current DC Universe, this is the book you should be reading. Heck, it ties into the previous DC Universes, with cameos by Lady Quark, Pariah, the Warlock of Ys and more. ‘More’ includes the Demons Three, recently seen in Justice League Dark, and, hmm, who is that woman at extreme left, below? She looks familiar …
This is also the book to be reading for top-notch pop art, as penciller Pete Woods, inker Sean Parsons and colourist Brad Anderson give us big, bombastic panels, and tiny ones with telling detail. There’s a lot of humanity to the characters, making it easy to empathise with them.
Mind, there’s a dog soldier in here who doesn’t half look like a pig. Still, perhaps that’s how dogs look on Apokolips.
Whatever the case, one thing is certain – this title is a thrill ride, blending superheroics and soap superbly. It’s old school in that it’s a satisfyingly dense read, but up to the minute in its flashy presentation. We’re on the hero’s journey, but it’s not just Vibe who’s learning about right and wrong, and himself, it’s every character. Well, apart from the witch Waller, I suspect there’s no saving her.
If you’ve not tried Vibe yet, give it a go – I’d rather like this series to be around awhle.