Vertical was a one-shot by Steven T. Seagle, Mike Allred, Philip Bond, and Laura Allred. As the title implies, it was done in an experimental vertical format, with a six-panel grid on each set of facing pages. It’s half the width of a normal comic book, so a pair of facing pages gives the same amount of page space as a single comic book page. Brando Bale leaps off of buildings–always miraculously finding a way to survive the landing–and it is those splash pages that justify the format (the panel layout does make use of the format, but only the falling sequences actually require it as they were drawn). Otherwise it’s a love story set at the Warhol Factory of the ’60s, the center of Pop Art. Brando’s love interest Zilly Kane is a dead ringer for Gwen Price, the lead character in iZombie, a comparison that of course could not have come up at the time. I guess Vertical didn’t make enough of an impression on me to bring it to mind when I started reading iZombie.
The four-part miniseries My Faith in Frankie was written by Mike Carey and illustrated by Sonny Liew & Marc Hempel (Carey and Liew were co-creators). It’s about a young woman who has a personal god named Jerivan. The situation is helpful with most things in life, as Frankie has unbelievable good luck. But her love life is the exact opposite (jealous god and all that). Her first dates are afflicted with such bad luck that she never has a second date. Of course Frankie’s first serious love interest is pretty unusual. Her friend Dean was brought back from the dead by Jerivan. But he spent some time in Hell, so he’s got revenge on his mind, and is definitely not what he appears. The big climax explains the meaning of the title: Frankie has to save her god, instead of the other way around. So it’s kind of a light treatment of some of the themes Carey was writing about in Lucifer at the time. The book is structured in short chapters (ten per issue), which helps to pack a lot of story in. Carey doesn’t have to write transitions: it’s like a series of cinematic quick cuts. In the end it was a fun read, much lighter than most Vertigo fare. It’s basically a Young Adult romantic comedy, but with gods and demons.
Midnight, Mass: Here there be monsters was the six issue sequel to John Rozum’s first Vertigo miniseries, illustrated this time by Paul Lee. As the title implies, the focus is more on the life of the monsters than famous paranormal investigators Adam and Julia Kadmon. It features the return of the messianic monster Magellan, who the Kadmons encountered in the first series. They barely survived that meeting, and now Magellan means to lead a group of monsters to take over an entire town, murdering all of the human inhabitants. Each part focuses on a different monster, some in league with Magellan, others acting as moles for the Kadmons. The climactic battle includes help from the still-formidable elder Grandmother Kadmon, and a surprise assist from assistant Jenny. In the end I liked this sequel more than I remembered from the first reading. The series was bedeviled by numerous minor printing and editing errors, which Rozum wrote about on the DC/Vertigo message boards at the time. Here they are for posterity:
Before you buy your copy of M.M.:HTBM #2, flip through the first few pages and if you don’t see ads for Wrestlemania or Metal Gear Solid, then your copy is missing pages. I got three copies that had this problem, which means there are probably more out there.
If you find any like that, let the store manager know so that some person after you doesn’t go home and think “This story makes no sense.”
If your issue is complete, and it still doesn’t make sense, here’s the place to chew me out.
Oh, and by the way, speaking of technical glitches–those black spots against the sky near the beginning are stars, not locusts. The art was supposed to be reversed, so those black dots were white on a black sky, but somewhere down the line it didn’t happen. [2/24/2004]
I’ll try and make this as spoiler free as possible. If you are worried about spoilers, read the story first and come back. There are a number of mistakes in issue #6, which I wasn’t thrilled about, especially with this being the last issue.
Page 1 – The title should be “Magellan,” not “Reprobus,” which was last issue’s title.
Page 4, panel 6: That should read “Incapacitation spell,” not “Incantation spell” which makes no sense.
Page 19, panel 2: The dialogue should be spoken by one of the guards instead of who is saying it.
panel 5: This is the entirely wrong character in that scene. the dialogue should be being spoken by the three-eyed goat character from back in issue #3.
Last page: We should see the occupants of the house.
I apologize, I’m not sure what happened. I was moving during the process of this issue being drawn and lettered, and did not see anything until the actual final printed copy. [6/24/2004]
Bite Club was a six issue miniseries written by Howard Chaykin & David Tischman, illustrated by David Hahn, with covers by Frank Quitely. It uses a crime family of Miami vampires as a metaphor for the immigrant experience. The story opens with the murder of family patriarch Eduardo Del Toro, and much of the action that follows centers around the inevitable power play that results. Eduardo’s final big surprise is delivered when the family learns that he had named his youngest son Leto to succeed him. Leto has entered the priesthood and been out of contact for a couple of years, so he’s as surprised as everyone else. After awhile he begins to warm to the role, but lacks the appetite for power displayed by his sister Risa and ex Carrie in the surprising climax. I enjoyed Bite Club on rereading, although I was struck by a few things that I didn’t notice when I was reading it month by month instead of all together. The first is the “Previously, in Bite Club” page that opens every issue after the first. It’s a great feature in a monthly, when it’s been a month since you read the previous installment. But it starts to become redundant when you’re reading them immediately. The second is how little vampirism has to do with the story. It’s basically a crime family story, where the family members just happen to be vampires. The illicit drug Plasmagoria is introduced early on as if it will play a major role, but winds up playing only a small part in the story.