As ideas for a series of anthology one-shots goes, having each comic focus on one of the four colors used for CMYK printing is certainly odd. But first out of the gate “Vertigo Quarterly: Cyan” is off to a strong start, with enough good stories to make this comic worth your while.
The book starts and ends with two of the best pieces, but they’re about as different from one another as you can imagine. Shaun Simon and Tony Akins’ “Serial Artist” involving a serial killer who considers herself an artist teamed up with an undertaker is the sort of idea that could sustain a huge story, and it’s much to Simon and Akins’ credit that they can boil it down to a satisfying 8-pager. The end result is a story that has no fat on its bones, but also isn’t afraid to use its opening page just to properly set a scene and give you a feel for how Liz is killing her victims. It doesn’t hurt that Akins’ art is gorgeous — I suspect I’m not the only person who’s missed his work on “Wonder Woman” — with gentle, soft lines and some great tight focuses on images like Liz’s eye. By contrast, Fabio Moon’s closing story “Breaking News of the Wonders the Future Holds” is more of a mood piece than anything else, but its character portrait of finding the bright side in bad news is uplifting without being cheesy, the perfect way to close out this comic.
As for the stories in between these two, there are some other strong pieces. It was a real delight to see the return of Robert Rodi to comics, who teams up with Javi Fernandez and Jose Villarrubia for a modern twist on an old fable with “Madame Bluebeard.” Rodi’s story of modern beards starts with a sharp usage of wordplay, but keeps the reader interested well beyond that. Rodi’s story is one that works perfect for this story length; any shorter and it would feel rushed, but too much longer and it would be drawn out. Fernandez and Villarrubia’s art is fun, too; the rough edges from Fernandez draw great Hollywood glamor and a sharp femme fatale, and Villarrubia’s deep cyan hues bathe the panels in just the right mood.
James Tynion IV and Martin Morazzo’s story is also impressive, managing to give us in just a few short pages a very distinctive future world. Tynion’s story is as much about love as the big science-fiction ideas, and Morazzo’s art reminds me a lot of the late Seth Fisher. Its delicate lines are captivating, and Morazzo can draw exquisite detail without ever making a page look cluttered or jumbled. I want to see a lot more from Morazzo in the years to come, he’s a real great find.
Last but not least, Lee Garbett and Jock’s “Blue Sundae” probably wins the award for strangest story idea. Ice cream truck drivers being some sort of legendary warrior is a great genesis point, but what really sells “Blue Sundae” is that Garbett and Jock never feel the need to sit down and explain why it is. They just push forward and tell the story without batting an eye; no boring exposition needed here. In doing so, the story comes across as confident and powerful, just what you should want.
There isn’t a dud in the book, here; even pieces that feel a little light in scope like Amy Chu and Alitha Martinez’s “So Blue” work because of the story character work and eye-catching visuals, for instance. Not every story needs to be a world-shaking event, and I like that Chu and Martinez go for something less death-defying and succeed. And when something is world-shaking, like Monty Nero and Al Davison’s “Much Ado About Nothing,” I must admit that it’s the care that’s taken in the execution that is the biggest draw. With page layouts that form a countdown and fantastic character expressions and fine details, you can just stare at the art for hours and drink it all in.
It’s nice to see something as oddball as “Vertigo Quarterly: Cyan” succeed, and it bodes well for the remaining magenta, yellow, and black themed-issues. There’s a little something for everyone here, and with a mixture of new and familiar talent, I think that the book comes together into a book that’s worth your money.