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Vigilante: Southland #1 Review

Comic Books

Vigilante: Southland #1 Review

Los Angeles doesn’t have enough heroes. Most are fighting crime on the east coast where darkly shadowed cityscapes outline the horizon. This series aims to offer palm trees silhouettes instead, but is it good?

Vigilante: Southland #1 (DC Comics)

Vigilante: Southland #1 Review

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So what’s it about? The DC summary reads:

Donny was feeling pretty settled in his cushy life. Even though his girlfriend was politically active, he never gave social justice or racial issues any time. So, when Dorrie discovers something she shouldn’t have and ends up dead, no one expects Donny to be the guy to carry on her work—but that’s exactly what he does, putting on a mask and taking to the streets. He soon finds himself tangled in family history, political conspiracy, and a plot that goes far deeper than he ever imagined. Set in the heart of Los Angeles, this new VIGILANTE series raises an old question while making it relevant to our times: when you witness bad things being done, how far would you go to set them right? Written by Gary Phillips, noted writer of the Ivan Monk series of novels, and drawn by Elena Casagrande (Suicide Risk), this hard-hitting tale of revenge and redemption takes the Vigilante into a whole new danger zone.

Why does this book matter?

This is a new take on the street level crime hero that’s been developed by DC, and it’s important to know he’s African American too. He’s an average pothead type, so I imagine many folks can relate to him, but when his bae is attacked what will he do?

Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?

Vigilante: Southland #1 Review
This is about all you get when it comes to punching.

Gary Phillips knows how to write strong and complex characters which is evident right out of the gate in Vigilante: Southland #1. We not only meet protagonist Donnie, but his girlfriend Dorrie, both of whom live complex and rich lives. When tragedy hits though, we meet those who live on the darker side of life and they speak and act as you might expect. Clearly time and effort has been spent to make these characters more realistic and rich, which is evident in all their scenes. This issue sets them up well, so that when superheroics start to come into play it’ll feel even more real.

Elena Casagrande draws a premiere issue that is gritty and realistic; there’s a spatter of black here and there throughout the issue that adds a layer of grit to the story and that suits the seedy story. The characters are realistic looking and easy to read while the setting and environment are detailed too. Though you don’t get much superheroics, the opening pages do offer up the costume and Casagrande does well to make the costume look like something an average person would make.

Vigilante: Southland #1 Review
I wanna see how this weapon really works in a fight.

It can’t be perfect can it?

It’s obvious why the first two pages show us Vigilante in his costume, which is a flashback, because there isn’t a peep from him after. This issue is all setup when it comes to the characters with a slower plot that will try many people’s patience. Rich character work is appreciated of course, but aside from a small scene revealing the weapon Vigilante will eventually use, this issue is rather boring. It chugs along slowly, building up the characters as realistic, but never stops to tell us why we should care. It doesn’t help the protagonist isn’t the most likeable of guys as the issue opens with him ignoring his girlfriend and coming off as a lazy stoner too.

Is It Good?

The structure of the story is set and the characters richly introduced in Vigilante: Southland #1. Unfortunately there’s no action or superheroics at all and a slow moving plot that may deter many.

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