The beauty of anthology comic books is that you get plenty of story for one solid price. You’re also taking a gamble because you’re bound to not love every artist or story, but that’s okay! This is a grab bag and the hope is the publisher did their homework to give you an eclectic taste of comic book storytelling. It may not need be fantastic, but is it good?
Vertigo SFX #4 (Vertigo Comics)
This issue has nine stories with a variety of subjects and plenty of differing art styles. Stories include ghost hunters, a crooked detective and a father who hasn’t yet accepted his son’s homosexuality to name a few. All of them include or end with a bang.
Why does this book matter?
The price may be a bit steep, but if you’re interested in short but sweet storytelling this is as good as it gets. Really only Dark Horse comes out with an anthology series that can rival it.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
Let’s break this down story by story starting with the first story and ending with the last.
Ekoh³ is written and drawn by Nathan Fox and it screams Paul Pope in its style. This is one of those mind-bending stories with a cool twist if you’re sold on the story.
Monkey See is written by Jonathan Case and drawn by Leila Del Duca. You’ll fall in love with the story right off the bat as we follow two detectives in a 50’s style crime story. One is quite green and even forgets his gun. We’re quickly zoomed off to a Hollywood mansion and the story is rife with surprises. A really great short story that has good comedic timing and fantastic art.
Not with a Bang is written by Cavan Scott with art by Nimit Malavia. This is a science fiction story that’s all inside the protagonist’s head. He has suicidal thoughts, but this is the future so there are other options. There’s a nice surprise at the end and Malavia’s art goes a long way in creating a depressing and cool atmosphere. The lines are quite thin and deliver a calm that helps sell the big twist.
Mary focuses on two reluctant camera people who work on a ghost hunter TV show. Writer Jordie Bellaire paces this very well and while the big horror hook hits you’ll see it coming. That said artist Declan Shalvey nails the dramatic beat near the end. The fact that it does end where it does is a bit unfulfilling though. What happened to the partner?!
D.A. Bangz! is written by Howard Chaykin with art by Jed Dougherty and it’s about a 50s teenage band whose drummer tours Europe losing them some gigs. He comes back having seen the Beatles and it changes them for the better. It’s a nice feel good story that works quite well due to Dougherty’s repeating layout of the boys before and after their drummer returns.
Message from Yonder is written by Samantha Shannon and the drawn by Marco Rudy, and it’s a visceral story that’s all about the art. The painted pages spill to create double page spreads that are quite eye catching. This one is moving due to the nice message at the end and the lifelike images.
Bang Bang for Buck! is a circus story all about two jerk owners who want to make a buck. It’s 1965 (a lot of these stories take place in this time period I’m noticing) and a sure deal walks in asking for a payment of their hands. That’s it! They agree assuming they could blow him up when his show is done. Emma Needell writes a creepy story with a fun twist that reveals a backstory that explains it all. The art by Ale Garza and Dan Green is quite nice with a cartoon look and feel that’s all its own.
Beat for the Gods is a story about a dad who lives an ordinary life but has coworkers leaving him bigoted notes. K. Perkins writes simply a feel good story with a surprising and touching end. Artist Travis Moore makes this story heartfelt due to great facial expressions on the characters and a solid final two pages that highlights the boredom and fear by juxtaposing it against the pure joy moments later.
Little Bang closes the comic with a cataclysmic story about the end of the world. Christian Ward writes and draws a tantalizing tale as we witness people holding balls of light and wishing the world wasn’t so awful. If I wasn’t mistaken there’s some kind of big bang thing going on, but I was confused by much of this story. For a quarterly all about the bang though this one definitely takes us out on a big one.
It can’t be perfect can it?
Of all the stories above I wasn’t a fan of three due to them either being confusing or way too obtuse for their own good. It’s possible if the creators had another page or two they’d feel more fleshed out, but as is they didn’t cut it.
Some stories are too trippy.
Is It Good?
70% of these stories totally enthralled me. That’s pretty good odds and you might have even better luck than me if you give this a chance. I guarantee there’s something in here for you, especially with so many great twists.