Vengeance, Nevada is the ominously titled new book from BJ Mendelson. Mendelson is best known for the appropriately titled Social Media is Bullshit. Mendelson is the creator/writer and has paired with artist/letterer Piotr Czaplarski.
Opening our review copy of the first issue the cover was instantly striking. A cool red and white blood splattered woman in a uniform and the chilling quote, “All Will Be Judged.” The story starts to unfold posing more questions than answers. The characters are introduced through cross conversations and an assumed understanding of events we haven’t seen. Initially this may feel jarring since it’s an issue #1 and the reader hasn’t jumped into an ongoing story. Stick with it. It makes more sense as the issue goes on and by the end it all falls into place.
Everything falling into place isn’t to say that all your questions are answered. It wouldn’t be much of an initial issue if it did. Having read a fair share of indie books, too often is there too much missing from a story. Too much is assumed that the reader will know because the creator is so eager to get their idea onto paper (screen?). It looked like Vengeance was going to hit this pitfall in their initial issue but they narrowly avoid the trap. A bit more of clarification would have been appreciated.
There is a bit of clunky dialogue up front and some needless back and forth on topics that don’t serve the story. Some ironing out of this dialogue would do a lot to serve the comic. Firstly, the pages would be cleaned up giving the artwork more room to breathe. The conversations would also read much more naturally. In addition there would be more time later on for clarifying what becomes a story pretty large in scale.
While writing is obviously important for comic books the art can’t be overlooked. You could argue the artwork is even more important given the visual medium. Marvel comics is somewhat famous for their claim that they could tell their stories purely with visuals and no dialogue boxes. Vengeance boasts some great artwork. The striking black and whites of the initial pages are accented with punches of color. The colors punch up more and become part of the story in a way as the book goes on.
The page layouts show great promise for the book. They look like any other big title professional from a major publisher while being fresh and unique in their own merit. Breaking the confines of the panels, plenty of large establishing images and action shots, and great implied movement.
Vengeance, Nevada is a promising first issue in an on going series. The first book is available for only $2.99 on Comixology.
Vengeance, Nevada available on Comixology
Excuse this write up being light on images. Especially after stating how important the artwork is. I wasn’t given any sample images stand alone from the book and don’t want to give away the artist’s work without written permission.