L.A. has turned into mostly rubble, gangs rule the streets, and Johnny has a lot of stuff to work out. Guy is angry, real mad, and he’s going to take it out on everybody. Is it good?
Suiciders: Kings of HelL.A. #2 (Vertigo Comics)
As Vertigo officially puts it, this comic is about:
Things are heating up on the streets of New Angeles. Johnny stole the Coyote’s championship sword, and the mayhem he’s caused has brought not only the wrath of the former Suicider, but also unwanted police attention. Meanwhile, Trix has a secret growing inside her she’d rather her brother not find out about.
Why does this book matter?
Lee Bermejo is writing this original series (and drawing the cover), with great art by Alessandro Vitti. If you loved the original series this is a must, but I found myself enjoying the first issue well enough without reading any of the previous issues.
Johnny needs help. Guy won’t let him pee!
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
Bermejo reminds us in this issue why Johnny is so damn angry, which is important because seeing an angry character isn’t enough. We see and know the pain he’s going through which helps us understand the rage and ultimately the violence he brings to others. It’s a kind of trick that Bermajo makes the reader feel okay with the protagonist throwing down a sword into someone, but he’s pulled it off!
As he blows up and loses his cool we witness Johnny’s sister sleeping with a guy she probably shouldn’t be. This story element works because it plays on our expectations that Johnny will find out and potentially freak out as he does on his enemies. That ramps up the tension and this issue checks back in on his sister and her dirty deeds with the bad boy.
Meanwhile the old veteran character introduced last month is going through stuff too. Bermejo does just enough to keep us interested, but also want more. Clearly his character is going to mean something to Johnny down the road and it’s fun to read how he might be his savior.
The art by Vitti continues to be strong, especially with Johnny’s emotions. The guy is a mess and instead of being annoyed or hating Johnny, we sympathize with him largely due to Vitti’s work. The guy is broken, angry, and upset and we feel bad for him. Again, this makes his violence feel justified to some extent or at the very least you’ll want him to get some help. The violence is exceptionally done too due to the layouts and well placed panels. Johnny takes on a team of men with guns and doesn’t even flinch which is badass to begin with, but Vitti infuses it with tension and street-level honesty.
It can’t be perfect can it?
I’m kind of perplexed how Johnny and the rest got out of the gang war of the last issue. The cliffhanger seemed to be about them maybe not making it, but this issue cuts ahead in time maybe a day with no explanation. That’s a bit frustrating.
Speaking of lack of information–and keep in mind, this is from someone who hasn’t read the first series–the cliffhanger didn’t deliver enough to have it make sense. I’m not sure what exactly happened, but…vampires? I don’t know, we’ll see next issue!
Is It Good?
Like a powder keg, Suiciders: Kings of HelL.A. builds up and then explodes in exciting ways. Most importantly, a very angry and violent character feels sympathetic and you can relate with him. That’s good writing.