Besides Twilight Children, most of these new Vertigo series and mini-series have been… mediocre so far at best. However, I have a lot of confidence in this new series from Si Spencer called Slash & Burn due to the talent and strong premise behind it.
Let’s give it a look and answer the question: Is it good?
Slash & Burn #1 (Vertigo Comics)
A North Dakotan firefighter by the name of Rosheen Hayes answers a call to put out a fire at a storage locker in the middle of the night. There she discovers a body amongst the smoke and ash… one which pulls her into a mysterious murder and drug case. Can she help solve the case with a new detective on the force as her dark past comes back to haunt her?
This is quite easily one of the best new Vertigo titles to debut so far. Si Spencer does a terrific job laying down the groundwork for the readers. He establishes Rosheen’s character very well through her interactions, her inner monologues and the flashback she has in the middle of the issue (which happily wasn’t placed in at an awkward position); she’s an enjoyable and intriguing character.
The murder mystery is compelling and brings about the appearance of an old face from Rosheen’s past. Between that and the revelation at the end of the comic (that was sadly spoiled in the solicitations, interviews, and original announcement for this comic), there is a lot going on in this book and a lot to dig into. This is a really filling book, but never feels overly complicated or complex to the point where it is hard to understand what is happening like some of the other new Vertigo series.
Ooooh, someone is getting creative with their narration.
Max Dunbar provides lends his talent as the artist for this issue and he’s good overall. He’s decent at drawing characters and capturing their moods and emotions (though the female characters seem to share similar faces, like Rosheen and Lucy). The layouts are constructed well and flow decently for the most part, outside of maybe one panel or two. Given that fire plays a big role in this comic, Dunbar does an excellent job of depicting the way the flames leap and move; along with Nick Filardi’s coloring, the flames appear at once beautiful and deadly, especially in one scene where a barrel explodes with blue flames. The only nitpick worthy thing about the art is that at in the final scene, the comic says that it is 12:00 A.M. and the sky looks as if it is still in the middle of the day. That’s either an art or an editing flub where it should be 12:00 P.M, but again, that’s mostly just a nitpick.
The thing about Si Spencer is that he has an “interesting” way of writing dialogue and narration. It’s not exactly straightforward or easy to understand with how phrases and analogies are used or how sentences are strung together. It made reading other series of his rather difficult due to how unnatural and awkward the text was. Slash & Burn is different for the most part with the dialogue (though some of the kids sound a bit older than how the artwork depicts them), but the narration is pure Spencer style. It is very off-putting and unnatural, like the character is thinking in riddles or using flowery/colorful expressions and terms to describe things (especially at the beginning when Rosheen introduces herself). It really makes things difficult to understand what our lead is thinking about or getting at, even knowing the twist at the end. Admittedly, this style of narration did work in one scene where Rosheen described how she could hear and interpret fire in the storage locker, comparing it to an orchestra playing as she conducts it. It worked really well, especially juxtaposed against the terrific artwork that depicted that scene.
Is It Good?
Slash & Burn #1 is easily one of the best new series to debut out this line of new Vertigo Comics. It features great characters, interesting storylines, and captivating twists. The narration and dialogue department might not suit everyone, but there’s nothing so serious that it’ll hurt your enjoyment of the story. This is a comic that I definitely recommend and hope you give it a look.
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