As Bleeding Cool first reported coming out of ComicsPRO's Annual Meeting, publisher Boom Studios landed a pair of major talents in Mattson Tomlin and Lee Bermejo. This summer it was revealed that they were teaming up for a prestige Black Label-style series called A Vicious Circle, which graced the cover of Diamond's Previews catalogue.
Tomlin is one of Hollywood's most in-demand screenwriters, first capturing audiences and critics' attention for his screenplay for the pandemic love story, Little Fish, which has a 91% approval on Rotten Tomatoes. He followed it up by writing the Jamie Foxx & Joseph Gordon-Levitt starring Project Power for Netflix and writing and directing the Mother/Android, starring Hit Girl herself – Chloë Grace Moretz, for Hulu. But he first popped up on our radar when it was revealed that he was brought in by Matt Reeves to do uncredited writing and development work on The Batman, which then lead to his first comic work at DC on Batman: The Imposter. Despite the lack of credit on the first film, his contributions were significant enough to earn him a co-writer position with Reeves on The Batman 2 which is slated for 2025.
And it's that Batman connection that led to his partnership with chart-topping, iconic comic artist Lee Bermejo. Bermejo's seminal work in the Bat office includes the New York Times bestselling Joker with Brian Azzarello, Batman: Noel which he wrote and illustrated, and the series that launched DC's Black Label imprint – Batman: Damned, also with Azzarello. And that's just the tip of the iceberg of the work that has made Bermejo one of the most sought after illustrators of his generation. We've previously reported on the "Bat Bump" that occurs on creator-owned projects from prominent Batman creators like James Tynion IV, Scott Snyder, Tom King, and Josh Williamson. What kind of Bat Bump will we see on A Vicious Circle when it FOCs on Monday with a dynamic duo of Bat-creators?
Tomlin's first creator-owned work in comics and Bermejo's second, and his first interior work since he helped launch Black Label is quite a potent combination indeed. Especially when you factor in Tomlin's increased visibility to comic fans thanks to his appearance alongside Keanu Reeves, as the screenwriter of Netflix's BRZRKR film, on stage at Comic-Con in the history-making Hall H panel.
A Vicious Circle follows a trained assassin from the future who seeks revenge on the only other man with his affliction—each life they take forces them both to involuntarily travel between vastly different past and future eras. And while the concept is tailor made for the type of big budget, genre-driven films Tomlin is known for (and presumably a no brainer option for Boom's first look partner, Netflix)… the real star of the first issue is Bermejo's art. With each murder-induced time jump, Bermejo switches art styles from photo realistic graytones to neon high contrast to stylized rendering to classic illustration paintings and much, much more, each seemingly paying homage to luminary comic artists and historical master painters. On a number of pages, Bermejo switches styles half a dozen times on each page. I suspect a page by page breakdown may be warranted to identify all of the influences in the first issue alone.
Bermejo is joined by variant cover favorites Alex Garner, Jae Lee, and the recently revealed Inhyuk Lee. And given the $9.99 price point on this oversized, double-length debut issue, the 1-in-25 Inhyuk Lee incentive cover is the one to chase as I can't imagine there will be many in the marketplace… certainly many fewer than the average Boom creator-owned launch.
Boom is calling A Vicious Circle a "graphic storytelling event" and this may be one of those rare instances where it isn't hyperbole. At the very least, every retailer should be showing this to their Time Before Time, BRZRKR, and Echolands customers for an easy sale. Will comic shops gauge demand for this one accurately, or should we expect A Vicious Circle to be another immediate sell out like Behold, Behemoth, Damn Them All, Stuff of Nightmares, and many others?
That's entirely up to them as A Vicious Circle by Mattson Tomlin and Lee Bermejo FOCs this coming Monday, November 14th.