By Ben Snyder
I am very confused on what exactly VS #1 is about. It’s really pretty to look, and Flynn seems like an interesting enough character. But it’s really confusing to know what is real and not real in the world of VS? Obviously, Flynn is a grizzled combat veteran, but did that combat happen in cyberspace, a virtual reality rehab program, in his past, or in his future? Flynn is obviously a celebrity but how did achieve it? Hopefully, we’ll see in future issues, because VS #1 is definitely successful in making me want more of it.
There isn’t much story in VS and whatever plot points are elaborated upon are met with even more questions, but author Iván Brandon does a solid enough job in building a budding world that begs to be explored further. Perhaps the most ingenious way Brandon builds this world is by the use of advertisements and commentary. When Flynn is a grump, the doctor says that is probably a side effect of the medicine. This is followed by a little blip in the corner of the panel naming the medication. When one of Flynn’s teammates gets a penalty, a similar blip in bright red indicates “Mama” Martinez is responsible for it as she insults a referee. In the middle of battle, a blip advertises Mobile Gravesites. This method of commentary is unique and so much more entertaining than a sterile exposition dump.
Unfortunately, this method also blurs the line of what is happening in the story. Is this battle real or is it a game? It doesn’t help that Flynn literally dissociating transitions us into these scenes. We need clarity to explain the stakes of these battles. And luckily we will be getting some in the following issue as Flynn dies in battle at the end of the issue.
I’m more excited to learn about the world in which these battles take place in and the politics surrounding them. It’s made obvious that Flynn is basically worshipped for his exploits, so that must mean that they are televised in some sort of way. It is also hinted that he is being manipulated for other purposes. We shall see why, but VS #1 is extremely successful in making me want more knowledge. It’s a rare instance in which the reader is literally thrown to the wolves and it works perfectly. It makes me think that this world is so complicated and intricate that a boilerplate exposition dump would do more harm than good.
Esad Ribić’s art is well suited to this story. His skyscapes, planets, and environments are beautifully sci-fi and I love the design of Flynn’s enemies. They are a mixture of ancient Roman and futuristic and it adds to the gladiator style feel the battle has. All of the action scenes work really well and look really pretty. The scenes in which Flynn isn’t in battle look boring in comparison however. Maybe we just aren’t given the opportunity to see as many interesting things as most of these scenes have Flynn in the forefront and focus of them.
VS #1 isn’t a perfect entry point to a seemingly overtly complex and convoluted story. However, it is successful in whetting the appetite for more of it. With interesting art, and clever story explanation, hopefully it doesn’t bite off more than it can chew.