In what is becoming a common practice at DC, Vibe gets a new writer this issue (after only two!).
Sterling Gates jumps on the book and begins his writing duties with a Vibe VS Kid Flash story. The issue is filled with action, a little humour, more A.R.G.U.S, more Gypsy and of course more Vibe. But it is also an issue that is just fine, run of the mill, average. It maybe early days for Gates, but this script doesn’t exactly get you excited about his time on the book.
The main problem isn’t that the narrative is cliché or that Vibe’s characterisation is lacking. It is the sense that Gates is trying to sell you things. Namely Vibe and Kid Flash. In what can only be described as bad exposition, we have Amanda Waller and Agent Gunn telling us how important and powerful Cisco is. The dialogue is heavy handed and doesn’t exactly tell us anything we haven’t already heard before in the last two issues. But Gates hammers Cisco’s importance home several times in this one book. At the same time Kid Flash’s appearance feels more like an advert for the character than anything else. Look how mysterious, screwed up and fast this character is, seems to be the message Gates is delivering. Instead of what could have been an interesting encounter between the two heroes, we get a hard sell.
That isn’t to say the issue is terrible, its just fine. The overall plot moves forward with Gypsy escaping, Waller scheming and Vibe getting told he works for the bad guys. It’s quite reassuring that Vibe seems to question his masters after his encounter with Kid Flash. It means that the readers don’t have to watch that aspect of the plot play out over a year or so. However nothing presented here is engaging.
Cisco’s characterisation, which was handled well in the last two issues, has all but vanished. This isn’t a good move on Gates’ part, as this version of the character shares a lot in common with other popular teen heroes. Therefore when you focus mainly on plot and deliver a narrative that covers familiar territory, Vibe doesn’t come across well. There is one moment of humour that shows off the only unique aspect of Vibe’s character (his relationship with his brother), but that is it. For the most part Gates sacrifices character for plot.
And what an uninteresting plot it is. It deals with a confrontation between two heroes, which is of course a misunderstanding. Granted it makes Cisco question the people in charge of him, but it’s just one long and banal action scene. There is more focus on DC’s answer to an evil version of S.H.I.E.L.D, who provide the reader with all the clumsy exposition they need. And there’s a cliff-hanger that has no impact. Seriously the character that turns up at the end could be anyone. Also all they have to say for themselves is that Cisco is “asking the right questions.” Gates is clearly going for mystery, but fails.
Pete Woods has a better time with the issue. His Saturday morning cartoon style continues to suit the character. His pencils are energetic and his character work does the job. The depiction of Vibe’s powers is a little pedestrian and often the panels with him using them seem a little messy. Woods is joined by Fabiano Neves this issue and he is a serviceable artist. His style isn’t too far off Woods so the transition between the two artists is smooth. His facial work is a little more expressive than Woods though. Ironically the most striking image in the book is the blurred one on page three.
So, Gates comes on board and it seems that he isn’t too enthusiastic about the character. He pushes forward the plot that started in issue one and there is a sense that Gates is perhaps rushing past this plot to get to his own story. The issue itself is fine, it has a lot of problems but it isn’t offensive. The art is solid and continues to give the book a suitable tone. One can only hope that this is just the shaky first issue that comes from a change in writer and not the quality of the title moving forward.
A COMIC BOOK BLOG RATING
|A nice touch of humour near the beginning.||Distinctly average, Gates’ hard sell is a turn off and plot elements get in the way of character work.|