By Damien Becton
When you read a debut issue of a comic, there are certain things that you would expect. Things like big action, plenty of set up for following issues, and introductions to the core characters are just a few. Many times, comics incorporate these elements rather ineffectively. Fortunately for the debut issue of Vengeance, Nevada #1, writer, B.J. Mendelson (Social Media is Bullshit), and artist, Piotr Czaplarski, do an excellent job with these aspects by introducing a pretty interesting world and juggling a bunch of moving parts.
For the majority of Vengeance, Nevada #1 we follow a woman named Kristen. She reminisces over the love of her life as well her son. It also appears that she may be in the business of robbing banks, as some of the issue dedicates time to an action packed scene where she (or someone appears to be her) engages in a heist and takes on some superpowered characters. Truthfully, there is a lot of moving parts in this issue, but it lead to me becoming more immersed in the issue itself - I found myself asking questions that I wanted answers to that will probably only come in issues to come.
I’ve said that there is a lot going on in this issue, but it doesn’t retract from Mendelson’s storytelling. He actually is able to humanize and develop Kristen extremely well in this issue, without sacrificing the action scenes that you would expect from a number one issue - and he does so in a pretty clever way. Kristen is actually holding conversation with another character, describing her motivations and loves while, in the actual panels, the previously mentioned bank-robbing/heist scene takes place. The contrast between Kristen’s characterization and dialogue between the characters and the action that takes place is a genuinely engaging aspect of the comic.
The art, for the most part, is excellent, as well. Czaplarski uses an anime inspired style to tell Mendelson’s story and it works extremely well. The action scenes are dynamic and impactful, and even the scenes where characters are just standing around, resting, or petting a kitty are great. However, there are a few gripes that I have. Some scenes look a little too exaggerated, even for the artstyle - a splashpage that kicks off a short chase scene comes to mind. Also, there’s a scene where a character “shape-shifts” but I wouldn’t have known that was going on if another character didn’t say outright that the character was shifting shapes. Conveying this transformation probably could have been executed a little better.
Overall, even though this issue raises a bunch of questions (as expected in a number one) and there is a lot of stuff going on, I had a good time reading this book. Mendelson does a great job establishing characters as well as utilizing some great action scenes. Perhaps what is most enticing about this book is that the book is only $1 on Comixology. With such a cheap price tag for an engaging debut issue, you get a lot of bang for your buck.
Vengeance, Nevada #1