For years, Vertigo Comics has been synonymous with edgy, bold comics. A beacon of hope for the disenfranchised comic book reader, a place to escape from the capes and tights that dominate the market. Under the leadership of Executive Editor Karen Berger, Vertigo released some of the best comics in the past twenty years, from The Sandman, Y: The Last Man, Preacher and Hellblazer, and along the way, catapulted the careers of Neil Gaiman, Brian K. Vaughan, Garth Ennis, and Grant Morrison, into comic book superstardom. It was essentially what all the cool kids were reading – indie rock in the face of bubble-gum pop superheroes. To some, Vertigo Comics was the pinnacle of the medium, an unstoppable juggernaut of creativity. However, in recent years, the stature of this imprint has seemed to diminish.
Out of four new titles released in 2012, Saucer Country, Fairest, Dominique Laveau: Voodoo Child, and The New Deadwardians (an eight issue series with the potential to be an ongoing), only the spin-off of Bill Willingham’s Fables has survived. Add to that the departure of Berger in March, and the termination of their flagship title Hellblazer with issue #300, and things were looking rather grim for DC Entertainment’s “creator-owned” imprint. With creators flocking to the likes of Image Comics to craft their stories free of corporate-owned characters (including Vertigo luminaries like the aforementioned Grant Morrison and Brian K. Vaughan), it appeared that Vertigo may have been in the midst of downward spiral, with the comics community awaiting the inevitable announcement that DC Entertainment was killing off their storied imprint. Well, under the leadership of new Executive Editor Shelly Bond, Vertigo is drawing a line in the sand.
Announcing six new titles to be released in the final quarter of 2013, to accompany the previously announced The Sandman: Overture by Neil Gaiman and J.H. Williams III, Vertigo Comics is saying that while they may be outnumbered, they certainly are not outgunned.
Dipping into the Karen Berger playbook, Bond has assembled a new wave of books from both established comic creators and fresh new faces from across the globe, while still holding true to what the Vertigo brand of comics was established for: great horror/fantasy books with a familiar but very unique voice.
These new books will join the current stable of Vertigo titles like Fables, The Unwritten, American Vampire, Astro City (which moved from the now defunct DC imprint Wildstorm), and new series’ The Wake and Collider (which debuts at the end of July), making the brand more exciting than it has been in some time. It appears Bond is doing her best with these new titles to prove all the naysayers wrong when they talk about Vertigo and its place in the new world of comics. In hindsight, we may see this as a last ditch effort to save the company, but you have to give it to them, it is one hell of an attempt.
So what say you, Dorks of the Shelf? Which of these titles are here to say? Which ones do not have a hope? Is this the end of Vertigo, or a fresh new beginning?
Official descriptions released by Vertigo:
When she was 15, Eve Coffin summoned a darkness that had been buried since the Salem Witch Trials. Now Eve’s back to harness the evil that destroyed her friends and is slowly taking over the sleepy town of Coffin Hill. This is a series full of magic, madness and murder via a twisted family of New Englanders. Arriving in stores this October, COFFIN HILL combines the talents of artist Inaki Miranda (FAIREST: THE HIDDEN KINGDOM) with writer Caitlin Kittredge, a young, dark fantasy author whose writing includes the Nocturne City, the Black London, and the Iron Codex series of novels – which include the recently published titles Dark Days and The Mirrored Shard.
Decades after “The Blight” all but wiped out the human race, Mother Nature is taking back what’s hers and she’s not alone … all the creatures of myth and legend have returned and they’re not happy. After her grandfather disappears, Prosper Monday must leave the security and seclusion of her Central Park village to venture into the wilds to find him, unaware of how much the world has changed. An epic fantasy adventure set in a post-apocalyptic world, Hinterkind is written by Ian Edginton and illustrated by Francesco Trifogli, and debuts this October
DEAD BOY DETECTIVES
Spinning out of the pages of Neil Gaiman’s Sandman, two dead British school boys star in their own monthly series and solve crimes in the 21st century with the help of a new female accomplice. Premiering in November, Dead Boy Detectives is written by noted British novelist Toby Litt with layouts and painted covers by Mark Buckingham (Fables).
THE WITCHING HOUR
Just in time for Halloween, this anthology-style one-shot collects short stories exploring witchcraft written and drawn by some of the most talented veterans and newcomers in the business – including Kelly Sue DeConnick, Cliff Chiang, Lauren Beukes, Emily Carroll, Matthew Sturges, Shawn McManus, Tula Lotay and many more.
Launching this December, THE DISCIPLINE is a dark, erotic thriller about a privileged young woman named Melissa who is thrust into a centuries old battle between good and evil. She begins an affair with a mysterious man named Orlando who opens her eyes to a sexually sinister world she never knew existed. Through this ritualistic seduction (“The Discipline”), Orlando unlocks Melissa’s inner power and then enlists her into a shadowy war that has been fought for centuries. THE DISCIPLE comes to you from writer Peter Milligan and artist Leo Fernandez.
Hitting the spinner rack this December, this new series marks the incomparable Lee Bermejo’s (Joker; Batman: Noel; Before Watchmen: Rorschach) debut as an ongoing series comic book writer and artist. Suiciders follows the lives of two futuristic boxers – one on top of the world, the other trying to fight (and kill) his way there. Set in Los Angeles after “The Big One,” “Suiciders” is the wildly popular reality sport that contestants are literally dying to be a part of … and to be the best, you have to murder the best.