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Voluminous Vertigo Week: Vinyl Underground #5

DC’s Vertigo line of comics puts out some of the best comics by either Marvel or DC, and this week, a staggering FIVE good Vertigo comic books were released – let’s talk about them – BC.

One of the more interesting aspects of the Vinyl Underground is how writer Si Spencer has taken a lot of the same approaches with this comic that I do not think worked with his Tim Hunter series, but I think they work a lot better when done with brand new characters.

The Vinyl Underground, in case you are unfamiliar with the book, is about four young adults (each with their own expertises and eccentricities) who solve occult crimes in London. They’re basically an updated take on the Scooby Doo gang (Spencer has hung a lampshade on this comparison a number of times already). At the end of the book’s first arc, the tight trio had expanded to a quartet (working in the lead character’s ex-girlfriend) and the lead, Morrison Shepherd, discovered that his long-lost (and presumed dead) mother might very well be alive and somewhere in London.

The rest of the comic is quite a trip through Shepherd’s past and London’s eccentricities. Spencer gives us a history of the mapping of London, in particular, Phyllis Pearsall’s A to Z map of London, which included, for copyright purposes, certain fictional street names (so one would know if her map was being copied) – Shepherd’s mother is on one of those fictional streets. Meanwhile, on the search for her, Shepherd is accompanied by a mental manifestation of himself as a five-year-old child, which is the last time he saw his mother. The interaction between the older Shepherd and his younger self is quite amusing, particularly when the five-year-old Shepherd takes up cursing – you know, to make himself seem older.

While Shepherd is on this journey, the other three members of the group are dealing with both Shepherd being missing (Shepherd is a recovering drug addict, so he checks in with the other two members of the group every day to make sure they know he is not back on drugs), and the awkwardness of adding a new member to their little crime-solving gang. And when they get a lead on a new crime – things are even worse off.

Inker Cameron Stewart is a brilliant artist, and he helps the book’s feel immensely, but penciler Simon Gane is no slouch himself. Very nice artwork – good character-based stuff.

This is a smart, funny comic with engaging personalities and an interesting look at the world of the occult.

Recommended.

7 Comments

This’ll be the make-or-break issue for me in determining whether I stick with the series or not. Good to hear it comes with your recommendation. Never see much talk about this book.

Hmmm. I found the first issue strikingly uninvolving & haven’t picked up one since. I’ll have to think some more about it …

Tom Fitzpatrick

February 8, 2008 at 8:08 am

I haven’t read any of this series, but I think you miscounted how many Vertigo books came out this week.

Since this is the third blog, you have EXTERMINATORS # 26, NORTHLANDERS # 3, INCOGNERO ogn, and SCALPED: BOOGIE CASINO tpb.

That’s 7 Vertigo items, not 5 as you indicated.
Unless, you just mean comics only.

I’m enjoying the series so far. I just want more Vertigo titles to stick around, hence my buying every damn thing out from them just keep the mix interesting. Granted I’m not British, but I can get the feel of what Spencer’s doing.

I’m glad someone is doing a review of this title. The writing’s interesting but Simon Gane’s artwork (along with Stewart Cameron’s makes it a crisp, pop-like book that Spencer’s going for….I’m in for the long run.

-D

How do issues 3 – 5 compare to 1 & 2? Because I thought #1 was interesting but fairly derivative and #2 was awful – thus I stopped buying it. In fact, the only reasons I bought #2 were Cam Stewart’s involvement and Spurrier’s text piece explaining his vision for the series.

So I’m wondering if BC and others would say it’s gotten better (specifically doing a better job of living up to Spurrier’s stated premise & themes) or if my tastes are just different and you really liked #s 1 & 2?

I’m trying to support Vertigo singles (even though I prefer their stories in trade), hoping that some of their new series might make it past issue # 20-something.

I might have to pick another issue, as I HATED #1 and haven’t bought it since. That bugs me when books get better after truly terrible debut issues, which this had.

[...] Croninborg wrote about this issue back when it came out. Read his review here. [...]

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