There are few things worse than an indie book in a cape. I try to avoid them. It always ends up the same it seems, but dig through the review folder and they always float to the top. Thinly veiled mimics of Big Two superheroes, usually with a post-modern high concept gimmick, all in the hopes of somehow climbing the same ladder Stan Lee did without the faintest understanding of the history that lead to the icons of comics. Vigilance doesn't avoid these pitfalls entirely, the plot weakly borrowing the "does the world need a Superman" trope that Batman Vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice keeled over into earlier this year. However, Vigilance has one defining feature that made it a mostly painless read: pencilist/inker Valdeci Nogueira. Before we get there, let's get the story out of the way. In a world of superheroes, a humanoid alien woman with Superman level powers crash lands on Earth, injured and unable to communicate. A government sanctioned superhero retrieves and rehabilitates her, eventually inducting her into his organization to be a superpowered asset of the U.S. Government. She selflessly, tirelessly, and expressionlessly works to save lives, but is opposed for some reason by a fear mongering politician who pushes a narrative that she is a subversive who wants to take over the government. While not hard to read save for the senator's hyperbolic rant, there's a lot of missing pieces in the characterization of Vigilance. She isn't given any human characteristics. We never see her do anything other than superheroey things, no sign that she's lonely, idealistic, or even requires sleep. This could play nicely into the narrative of whether or not she can be trusted, but Vigilance also serves as the book's actual narrator, giving us a transparent window into her purely innocent motives, leaving the Senator to be an antagonist she seems barely aware of and entirely unaffected by. The end pages, setting up the next issue's conflict, is also without ties to any of the apparent themes of the book, instead giving us a generic punchable problem.
But enough of that, artist Valdeci Nogueira sells this book as hard as he can. His nibby thin lined style has its own flair, a strong sense of comic book composition, and some genuinely impressive energy. He draws superhuman feats better than static dialogue scenes, but his confident inks feel surprisingly professional in this indie setting, one of the better looking examples in small-publisher superhero books. It's somewhat undermined by an uninspired color job that takes away from the lines rather than elevates them, but the book's stronger artistic moments shine through regardless.
As a story, Vigilance is confused and directionless. As a showcase for art, it's pretty likable and surprising. I can't recommend reading a book on the latter alone, but at the very least you can takeaway that Nogueira deserves whatever attention this book might bring to him. Look him up.
[su_box title="Score: 2/5" style="glass" box_color="#8955ab" radius="6"]