A new DC Digital First series always gets my attention, I love these cheap weekly treats. And this one stars Vixen, one of the best heroes out there. While other characters have been horribly mischaracterised over the years >cough Supergirl cough< Mari McCabe has always been well-treated. From her first spotlight in Justice League of America through Suicide Squad and beyond, Vixen has impressed.
And here she is again – strong, smart, sexy and confident, a classic hero, always ready to get the job done.
But she’s not alone. The story starts with another hero with ties to the African continent, super-speedster Impala.
An archaeologist has been possessed by an ancient object of power, and while Superman, Wonder Woman and other planetary powerhouses seem the obvious choices, bringing them in is a no-no.
Vixen has a mystic artefact of her own, safeguarding her from the possibility of possession. She’s well up for the challenge.
I loved this. Geoffrey Thorne’s script is pacy and funny, using Vixen’s powers and personality to good effect and introducing the latest version of Super Friends character Impala with economy. I take it that Charles is meant to be a Brit, as he says ‘love’. ‘wotcher’ and ‘cheers’ – in his secret identity he’s likely a Swinging Sixties hairdresser. And it’s great to have Global Guardians head Dr Mist, around, doing his ‘stern wizard’ bit. There’s also a wee reference to a very minor DC-owned character who may show up down the line.
A tiny mystery in the script is why the Global Guardians’ organisation is referred to as ‘GGI’ – the obvious thing the final initial stands for is ‘international’, but that’s far too tautological, so what could it be? Whatever the case, the Global Guardians have a rather excellent new status and I hope to see more members before long.
ChrisCross was once a stalwart of DC Comics, but it’s rare to see art by him at the company nowadays, which is a shame, as he’s a big talent and I like him drawing my favourite heroes. His Vixen is a treat, as he brings back her DC Rebirth costume rather than the awkward new one seen in preview art, and teams with colourist Wil Quintana for the visual representations of Mari’s power.
Impala doesn’t wear a costume as such, but his mask is all that’s needed to give him the cool factor. And again, Quintana gives the art extra oomph with well-chosen and applied colours. And kudos for the skin tone work, with everyone looking good.
I mustn’t forget Jordi Tarragona, who provides slick, sharp inks, and letterer Andworld Design (it’s a shame, though, that the very first panel contains a misspelling).
The dual publishing nature of this story brings my only real problem with this issue. For the most part, it does the Scooby-Doo Team-Up/Batman Adventures thing of strict landscape-shaped pages, suitable for a tablet. A couple of times, though, ChrisCross goes off grid, composing the visuals in more traditional mode, meaning you get the same set of images twice, but cut differently to fit in dialogue. Like this very unfortunate case.
It’s jarring, ruining the flow of the story, and, frankly, unnecessary – why not just let ChrisCross draw every side like a normal comics page? That’s how other DC Digital First books such as Wonder Woman: Agent of Peace are done. We enjoy other comics on screens, and don’t demand reformatting for a horizontal read. At the moment, this isn’t Digital First, it’s Digital Afterthought.
Happily, the second chapter isn’t as badly affected, although the opening digital pages look pretty sparse due to panels with angled edges being extracted. It’ll likely all look great in the published version.
Said second chapter – which will be the middle section of next month’s 40pp print collection – sees Vixen, Impala and Dr Mist track down the villain from the first issue who, I have to say, has one of the most interesting outfits I’ve seen in a while.
As well as plot movement, there’s more fun banter and an interesting wrinkle with Mari’s powers. It’s well worth your time and, at 79p/99c very little money.
The second chapter’s cover is, as is practice for DC Digital books, a repurposed interior panel. The first, though, is a crop of the print issue’s cover by ChrisCross and Quintana, below, and it’s well done, but doesn’t feature the fun Mari we meet within… too, too scowly! And I love the logo, it’s very sharp. I actually prefer the second cover, I’m a sucker for framed art.
I don’t know what’s coming after the first story, but DC are promising ‘a platform for new, emerging storytellers to reveal their takes on popular DC characters’. Based on the quality of the first two offerings, edited by Andrew Marino, I’ve subscribed.