By Dustin Cabeal
Everyone pause for a second to soak this in. Someone made a comic book about a vigilante superhero in L.A., and it works. It doesn’t suck, people. It doesn’t suck. Perhaps it's because it doesn’t star a top ten hero/character or maybe it's the fact that it’s a character that likely wouldn’t rank in the top 100 of DC characters. Whatever the case, I enjoyed Vigilante: Southland.
The story gives us a couple of quick scenes from the future of the story. I’m never a fan of this, but I get that the industry loves it and feels that it's necessary. It's definitely not and I forgot the comic started that way until writing the review. The real opening introduces Donny and his girlfriend Dorrie. Donny loves to play basketball and smoke weed, while Dorrie is an activist that’s doing some B&E’s in a costume. Donny doesn’t know that and so when Dorrie is run down by a car the next day he’s not suspicious of her death… yet.
Essentially Donny’s motivation as a character is that he was an absent boyfriend that’s guilted by his girlfriend’s death to pick up her cause because he doesn’t have one of his own. It’s not the weirdest motivation, and you’re probably just supposed to see a mourning man take up a worthy cause after finding out how deep his girlfriend went down the rabbit hole.
The part that hooked me was the dialogue and the relationships. The dialogue was smooth and believable. It flowed quite well and didn’t feel stiff and awkward. There was only one info dump and even then, I could believe it is happening. As for the relationships, I won’t spoil them, but a character Donny interacts with is great and changes the dynamic of the story.
The art was not the typical style you’d see on a DC title, at least not one of their top books, which is probably why it was so damn good. It had some grit, some shadows, but overall it fit the feel of the world quite well. Thankfully the creative team worries less about showing L.A. landmarks and more about character development and moving the plot forward, so there were no annoying Hollywood Blvd. scenes or the LAX airport sign. It felt like a comic book set in L.A., the way that a comic set in New York City does. That is to say that residents of the cities will forgive that it doesn’t spend all its time trying to be exact, but does enough to get the vibe.
Vigilante: Southland is the best book I’ve read all week. I haven’t read everything on my list yet, and there’s a ton that I will skip due to personal taste, but of all the small press and large press titles I’ve read, this one was the most entertaining. Kudos to the creators for not only making a great comic to read but unlike other DC titles I’ll be back for more.
Vigilante: Southland #1
Writer: Cary Phillips
Artist: Elena Casagrande
Colorist: Giulia Brusco
Publisher: DC Comics