The BondAge Of Vertigo: The Wake #1

wake

Elizabeth Heyman writes;

For those of you who attempt to maintain a balanced diet of publishers, you may have found yourself feeling slightly Vertigo deficient in recent months. It's true—unless you're one to buy all the re-releases of old trades, you've probably found yourself leaving the comic book store with less and less new titles from DC's smaller imprint.

Altogether, it's been a tough year for Vertigo who last December saw the resignation of Karen Berger, the only executive editor the brand had ever known. Not only did it struggle with this transition, but it was forced to miss out on the great success of its former characters Swamp Thing, Constantine, and Animal Man who now exist almost exclusively in the New 52. Additionally, early 2013 saw the conclusions to fan favorite Sweet Tooth, the highly acclaimed miniseries Punk Rock Jesus, and its longest running title, Hellblazer. Since then, there hasn't been much to fill the empty shelf space left by these stories.

Still, the lack of replacements is most likely the delayed result of the transitional period in which Berger stepped down and current Executive Editor Shelly Bond stepped in. Obviously, it would have been difficult for either woman to okay new projects while preparing to leave or to be sworn in.

The special edition re-release trades of Lucifer and Sandman have acted as the temporary compensation for all this as Vertigo has historically depended highly on the sales of trades more than floppies anyway. However, this business plan and focus on only a few main series could be cause for concern as Image seems to be seizing the moment and announcing a new title almost every month. Although, it would be an even greater concern had the end of May not given us the premier of the sci-fi thriller The Wake, whose second issue comes out this week.

This new title features DC's current go-to writer Scott Snyder who is also currently penning Superman Unchained and Batman. However, the artwork helps make this book distinctly Vertigo as it features the work of Sean Murphy, artist for Hellblazer and creator of Punk Rock Jesus. Murphy brings his typical mature style to the story but draws it perfectly to fit the suspense and mystery specific to the book. There may not be a lot of action sequences in this premier issue but that's only because it's too busy developing its plot and characters while still leaving plenty of questions to intrigue readers.

Perhaps it's the book's use of the giant sea monster trope or the Carl Sagan lookalike, but I thought I sensed traces of retro undertones throughout the story, despite it having a futuristic setting, making it even more of an interesting read.

It's similar to the one-shot remake Vertigo came out with in March, Time Warp, which features nine different takes on the concept of time travel. What both these stories truly accomplish is the revitalization of very classic, seemingly outdated science fiction subjects (sea monsters and time travel) that all fans can identify but with writing and artwork that make it excitingly modern and completely distinguished from their archetypes.

We can see hints of this twisting of classic sci-fi tropes in American Vampire which returned for a one shot two weeks ago and in Astro City which premiered the week before that. In fact, it looks like June is starting to be a tide changer for Vertigo and it's where we can draw our continued faith in Bond as an editor from.

If there's anything the ten year anniversary of Fables can remind us of, it's that Shelly Bond not only knows a good script when she's reads it, but she can bring in the right team to pull off a new trend before audiences even know they're tired of the old one.

Yes, things are still moving slowly at the imprint. The company as well as the entire industry lost a great talent with the resignation of Karen Berger and recovering from such a change will take time. Still, it's important to remember that Vertigo is in very capable hands. These new titles premiering might not be the next big hits but they demonstrate the potential currently held by the brand. Take Wake along with the rest of the June lineup and the promise of a Sandman prequel for 2013 as a sign that it still has a lot more stories to tell and it that this is only a teaser for what is to come in the Bond Age of Vertigo.

The Wake #2 is published tomorrow.

About Rich Johnston

Head writer and founder of Bleeding Cool. The longest-serving digital news reporter in the world. Living in London, father of two. Political cartoonist.

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