With its old-school logo and shadowy creature, the cover of Fred Van Lente and Guiu Vilanova’s “Weird Detective” #1 implies that Detective Sebastian Greene is an investigator of crimes that are a little bit stranger than most. While that is most certainly true, Van Lente proves his character is far more than that, literally defining the term “weird detective” in such a straightforward manner that readers will be genuinely surprised when they see just how strange this police detective really is. This is what makes this double-sized issue such a treat, as Van Lente gives his lead character surprising depth very quickly, despite the fact that he definitively and increasingly fits the definition of weird.
When first introduced, Sebastian appears cold, aloof and judgmental; from his trench coat and general appearance as rendered by Vilanova, he looks as though he’s cut from the same cloth as John Constantine. Van Lente wastes no time getting into the character’s head, though, establishing a kind of apologetic condescension in his general mindset; the character sees himself as more advanced than those around him, but only states this as a matter of fact, not driven by any kind of ego. In fact, Van Lente subsequently makes it very clear that his seeming standoffishness isn’t a character flaw at all, but instead just the nature of Sebastian’s true and surprising nature, in a shocking revelation shown halfway into the issue.
Sebastian is a strange one, yes, but it’s a likeable kind of strange, in that comical Coneheads kind of way. The character, like Van Lente’s overall script, has its share of comic relief, but Sebastian isn’t played up just for laughs; Van Lente actually presents a very compelling look inside the mind of this character, who is vastly different from everyone else for a very good reason. In fact, when readers learn exactly who Sebastian is, there’s a heightened sense of sympathy for the character, as the motive for his mission becomes fully apparent and his emotions — and quirkiness — become completely understood.
Van Lente’s story is rich with various backdrops, from everyday urban settings to seedy underworld hideouts to even a brief look at an alien landscape, and Vilanova handles the diverse environments well. There is sufficient detail in each rendering of the characters; Sebastian is readily identifiable and even has a slightly odd look about him. The pop culture detectives he patterns himself after are also immediately recognizable and add a further touch of comedy to Sebastian’s behavior. The surprises keep coming, and Vilanova skillfully captures them all.
MaurÃcio Wallace and Josan Gonzalez’s colors quietly carry Vilanova’s art and also serve as a storytelling tool, as they shade the flashback sequences in purple. The coloring is subtle enough that it goes largely nunnoticed, although Wallace and Gonzalez impress by beautifully embellishing Vilanova’s spread near the end of the issue, when Van Lente delivers the last of his surprises.
“Weird Detective” #1 impresses overall, as the entire creative team delivers enough twists to easily fill its forty-six pages. This debut issues offers readers an affordable look at a detective who’s pleasantly weird, indeed.