Vertigo has been on a tear with solid adult themed series that aren’t just original but inspired. Lee Bermejo’s series Suiciders is getting a sequel of sorts, or in this case a second chapter, from Vertigo as it further explores the world he set up. Question is, is it good?
Suiciders: Kings of Hell.A #1 (Vertigo)
The biggest recorded earthquake has hit Los Angeles and the city and society have crumbled. In the previous series Lee Bermejo explored the gladiator arenas that kept people busy and rich, but in this new series it’s all about the street gangs and their acts to stay alive.
Why does this book matter?
Think of this as a more gritty and realistic Escape from New York and you get the vibe it’s going for. The characters are Mad Max level crazy and the only rules are there are no rules. Along with artist Alessandro Vitti, Barmejo has the chance to show us what could happen in an ethnically complex world with the only rule being kill or be killed.
I think you should back down dude.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
Crack this comic book open and right away you’ll notice the detail put into every panel and the vivid storytelling in play due to the solid layouts. Alessandro Vitti draws with a lot of detail from the characters to their surroundings to some solid atmospheric sequences. The book opens with the world on fire (literally) and it’s clear very quickly that Los Angeles is dead and buried. This thoroughly establishes that what comes after when the book cuts ahead 15 years is going to be a world we’ll have to learn more about to understand.
Vitti has an incredible handle on the human form particularly when characters are in a crowd or near one another. Take for instance a hulkingly huge shopkeeper whose arms are as big as the protagonist’s head. Or when a brawl takes place the women are of a slighter build than the men. This detail helps convey how real things are and makes the blood and gore that much more painful to watch.
This book is all about Johnny who is the leader of the Kings of HelL.A. He’s violent and angry but for good reason which sparks one hell of a gang fight in the books last few pages. He’s all rage and anger, but Bermejo imbues a lot of heart and pain into him to make him appear justified. He’s certainly crazy, but not like many of the flatter characters of a similar nature we’ve seen in comics. Plus Bermejo wrote this sentence which might be my favorite of 2016, “Yet, he remembers other things crystalline and in slow motion that I only remember blurry and sun-blotted.” Beautiful.
Another element that works is the skater punk attitude the book invokes not only visually but via the characters’ antiestablishment attitude. With not much of an establishment left they still manage to make a corporate minion run for his life. Their gang mentality is right there on the surface due to the well rendered characters around Johnny – admittedly not explored as much as they could be at this point – but it’s obvious a lot of time and thought went into them.
It can’t be perfect can it?
This comic feels short which in part is due to an 8 page flashback sequence that establishes the world and Johnny’s reason for being so angry. Once the main story kicks into gear some basics are established, but then a gang war takes over which reduces its opportunity to develop the characters and plot. It’s a first issue so it’s not such a big deal, but the bigger picture is still vague at this point.
Is It Good?
If looks could kill this book would just as brutally as the gang members. I didn’t read the original series, but still found myself entertained and interested in this series.