Written and Drawn by Michael Avon Oeming
Published by Dark Horse Comics
Sick of the same old re-fried tales of super-heroics in your comic books? Michael Avon Oeming’s Victories is different from what you are used to. No stranger to creator-owned comics, Oeming is best known for his long running Powers series with Brian Michael Bendis. Taking full responsibility for the art and writing here, he does an excellent job of introducing a new city, crammed full of larger-than-life characters while still keeping the story grounded and human.
The Victories themselves are a group of heroes who could easily be seen as vigilantes if you squinted at them right. The focus here is on Faustus, a red-robed mask who gains his powers through years of martial arts training. His team mates are similarly powered and well named, Oeming has created some intriguing characters here that leave you wanting to learn more. They are all visually distinct, (I love Sleepers’ bandages and how his tie flaps in the wind) and have strong personalities. I can’t wait to learn more about Sleeper and Sai, meet Metatron properly and learn why D.D. Mau shouts her name when she fights.
As in all good comics, this city is a broken dystopia, “it smells of rotting flesh and dirty money–the buildings creak like an old man’s bones.” Haunted by a drug called Float (a narcotic that grants a brief ability to hover while also causing gross physical mutation) the city is only kept from the brink by the Victories and even they may be teetering over.
This is a dark and very personal book. It feels like therapy of a kind, driven by something deep and powerful. At times it bordered on uncomfortable, but that also made for some very real, authentic story-telling. Everything builds to a peak, the unveiling of the secret is inevitable, you can tell what’s coming but cannot turn away.
I always think of Oeming’s art as being very clean-almost on the Bruce Timm level-but as in many things, I am so very wrong. Here it’s often fluid, messy and organic. The art gets it’s loosest in the personal monologue/drinking scenes of Faustus. The pages can be dark and visceral and bloody, there are multiple decapitations and the Victories signature move is lopping off the hands of their foes. Many of the panel borders are unevenly drawn, adding to the organic pace of the page. In a comic about a hero with drinking problem you can almost hear the clank of the hip flask in his utility belt as he moves.
The lettering of the SFX in fight scenes is great, huge chunky letters that ‘sound’ loud. The colouring dynamic and evocative while still allowing Oeming’s thick bold line do most of the work. I always enjoy the old technique of having the local TV news guy fills us in, for me it’s always one of the better exposition delivery systems
Should I buy it? This is must for Powers fans, those who love Oeming’s art and for those who like a dark and introspective look at super hero comics. I enjoyed it greatly and think it works fantastically as an introduction to this series, I am excited to read the next collection
Next time: The long wait is over, as the only comic I would consider getting monthly releases its second volume. Saga Volume 2, by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples. Will it reach the high bar that the first book raised or come crashing down under the weight of my expectations?