On the surface, “The Victories” #1 looks like a giant allegorical stand-in for bigger name, big-two characters. Rest assured that Michael Avon Oeming’s story is no more a simple allegory for those characters than it is an allegory for “Star Wars.”
Oeming (along with colorist Nick Filardi and letterer Aaron Walker) stretches his wings quite a bit with page layout, graphic elements and type treatments. The end result is a nice array of dynamic images that had me thinking back to the first time I saw some of the “Arkham Asylum” page layouts from Dave McKean. Granted, Oeming’s work is of a quite different style than McKean’s, but the choice of incorporating text into image and losing the definition of both was bold in 1989 and is still striking today. For every dozen good visual choices Oeming makes, he delivers a questionable storytelling or layout choice. One such example is during the “final” confrontation between Faustus and Jackal. The composition of the page and interaction between the figures had just enough negative space intruding upon it to prompt a “What the heck just happened here?” from me. Continuing the story cleared things up, but that page still strikes me as needing a bit more oomph and proves that Oeming still retains mortality.
Oeming’s writing in “The Victories” #1 is way over the top, even for a superhero comic. He introduces the reader to a judge who has the most stilted dialog of any comic book character I’ve read in 2012 and that comes after an introduction comparing the city to a suicidal priest. The Jackal is every bit the cliched, monologuing villain mocked in Pixar’s “The Incredibles” and the “hero” of the piece is tortured seemingly beyond redemption.
Loaded with expletives, gory disembodiments and other excessively disgustingly foul acts, this story doesn’t do much to entice readers to return for any further installments, despite some bold art choices in the non-offensive scenes. “The Victories” #1 was more than enough for me to thank Oeming for sharing his ideas and leave them for fans more apt to enjoy them in a way I simply cannot.