I read this comic with a level of glee that I typically reserve for Christmas Eve. It feels like ages since I opened the file to the first issue of The Private Eye, and I’m biased in talking about this comic in that I admire Brian K. Vaughan, Marcos Martin, and Muntsa Vicente for going a non-traditional route in this comic’s release, making it pay-what-you-want through their own online store. Although I started off reading that first issue with a bit of trepidation thanks to some subconscious idea that the lack of editorial oversight would impede it from achieving its full pull potential, it became apparent at the closing of the issue that the trio had concocted something that could not have been possible in a pre-war print format. Simply browsing through this comic, it becomes apparent that the creative team has no concern whether their comic translates to a print format, taking full advantage of the screen in a way that few digital comics do. Starting a comic off with a rocket launch rarely fails to draw an audience. Thankfully, this comic starts there and only proceeds to continue to ratchet up the tension even after the main big bad has been disposed of. Once the rocket launches, and the tentative fate of P.I. is revealed, the creators devote the rest of the comic to the response of those close to P.I. and the citizens of Los Angeles. I really liked how fully rendered Gramps slowly became as a character, moving from someone who existed mostly as a figure of comedic relief to a sympathetic person in his own right representative of current twenty-somethings who have only ever existed as adults in a world of social networking.
I also liked how the main conflict of this comic doesn’t concern the actions of the main antagonist DaGuerre, but instead focuses on the government’s response, and their lack of full disclosure to the public. Reflective of contemporary instances where the government lacked trust in the general public, Vaughan and company achieve a level of haunting speculative fiction seen in the prose work of authors like Margaret Atwood. The world of P.I. and his partners never feels far removed from our own, and Vaughan does a fantastic job of making his world a natural extension of our own, responding in natural ways to ecological issues.
Marcos Martin breaks down any resistance a reader might have in fully investing in this world, employing an astonishing amount of detail in every aspect of this future Los Angeles. Particularly, I was repeatedly impressed by his ability to render a wide variety of looks for the pedestrians of Los Angeles, not only composing unique outfits but also pairing them with masks that covered a variety of makes and styles. After the madness of the first twenty issues, it hit me as a fantastic contrast to note that the majority of residents had been able to continue with their lives oblivious to the tragedies faced by the other characters. Coupled along with Muntsa Vicente’s colors, I could never doubt that the world of The Private Eye didn’t feature the amount of scrutiny typical of books overseen by larger editorial teams.
Brian K. Vaughan and company promise that The Private Eye doesn’t signify the last of this team’s collaboration, and I’m grateful for that. With The Private Eye, Vaughan has shown how easily he can manage to take a long-established character and emphasize aspects of them that may have remained unnoted otherwise.
The Private Eye easily merits a full reading over spring break. Sitting with a cocktail near the beach, it can easily become one of the top five memories you can thank me for later.