Death-Man, Blake Edmonds, The Leopard, Pete’s Pocket Army, Doctor Sin, Adam Eterno, Steel Commando, Thunderbolt the Avenger, and Yao; these names may not sound familiar to you now, but they are members of The Vigilant, a new team of forgotten heroes from British Publisher Rebellion. Let’s check it out, and see what’s brewing!
Writer: Simon Furman, Bruce Leslie, Karl Stock, Aaron Stack
Artist: Simon Coleby, DaNi, Henrik Sahlstrom, Warwick Frasier-Coombe & Staz Johnson
Cover: Simon Coleby
Cover Price: £3.99 or $4.99
Previously in The Vigilant: When Rebellion purchased the Fleetway library of titles back in 2016, they took possession of a large number of characters from the ‘60s and ‘70’s which were made for the various titles Fleetway published. Now, Rebellion is reviving those characters under the direction of a stable of talented creators to form the basis for the Rebellion-verse.
STARTS WITH A BANG AND KEEPS THE PRESSURE UP
Adam Eterno, in his quest to fix time, finds himself impaled by the vicious Iron Major during World War II. Taken captive by Von Hoffman and his psychic underlings, the essence of Eterno is trapped in the form of a golem-like goliath, making him the prisoner of Zenga.
Meanwhile, across time, everything is rubbish. Thunderbolt is battling thrash-metal trolls, the Leopard is rescuing people from a scene reminiscence of Hitchcock’s The Birds, Yao is battling hopping vampires in Hong Kong, and Blake Edmonds is taking on chariot driving, Anubis headed archers. During all of this, Dr. Sin looks on from his interdimensional base, The Thirteenth Floor, where he is monitoring the forgotten heroes beside his companions Death-Man and the Steel Commando. Soon, he sends out a call to arms in the form a mysterious number 13 which appears before the heroes, calling them to his base.
Soon Dr. Sin will lead these heroes on a mission to save Adam Eterno and save reality as we know it. The villains have taken refuge in Continuum-881, making the Tower of London their forward base of operations. As the heroes attack on multiple fronts, they will come into conflict with Dr. Mesmer and his bandage wrapped automaton Angor, giant insects, and a host of other villains from the past. But Dr. Sin has reinforcements of his own, and he doesn’t hesitate to call them in when the time it right.
After the adventure proper is told, we are treated to tales of three of the heroes, which happen during the big battle. We learn more of Yao and her origins, of Death Wish’s Blake Edmonds and what might have been and already was, and the origins and re-discovery of The Steel Commando.
Overall, we have a set up for future stories, and a whole library of characters to choose from.
A DIFFERENT SENSE OF WHAT SUPERHEROES ARE
British comic publications, in general, seem to have not only a physically different appearance but a different beat than what we normally see in American titles. I believe the story told in this one-shot would have become at least a six issue mini-series event with supporting books introducing each character.
And that would have been a shame.
These characters, all resurrected after decades of inactivity, all have that familiar British quirk to them, and that’s a good thing. The heroes, and the villains, don’t seem interesting in spending a lot of time showing off, they have a job to do and they do it. Simon Furman (Transformers, Death’s Head) introduces the characters with little fanfare. The character backgrounds are all given in the roll call pages, and not bothering with that makes it feel as if you have stepped into a world that is not new, but lived in. These characters have been going through their lives regardless of publishing schedules. By taking the introductions away, we get to go directly to the big story. Furman tears down the adventure and sticks to the meat and potatoes (or the bangers and mash), packing a lot of action into the story. You get an idea of what the characters are like, and then you move on. He is introducing them to a general public, not rehashing their life stories. Likewise, Simon Coleby (Judge Dredd, The Authority) makes up for the lack of exposition by providing deep, detailed and classic art. No big flashy splash pages or double-page spreads, there is no time for that.
We do slow down for the three backup tales. These tales all happen during the big battle, and set the stage to tell more about their respective focuses. Author Bruce Leslie (Dragon in the Needles) and artist DaNi give us a peek into Yao’s past and her purpose, Karl Stock (Judge Dredd Megazine) and Henrik Sahlstrom (Mirror’s Edge: Exordium, Fantomen) have Blake Edmonds glimpse into an alternate timeline while reliving his past, and Aaron Stack and the art team of Warwick Fraser-Coombe (Dead Girls, Afterlife Inc.) and Staz Johnson (Robin, 2000 AD) tell the last days of the Steel Commando. Each story has its own tone and art style, giving us a great range of entertainment.
BOTTOM LINE: FAST PACED AND FLUID, AN ALTERNATIVE TO THE STANDARD AMERICAN SUPERHEROES.
As I stated before, the British comic book and graphic novel scene is as different from the American scene as the Sex Pistols from the Ramones. It’s hard to explain, but you just understand t when you read it. It’s not a bad thing, it gives an alternative for people who want to try something different of have been put off by American titles. Rebellion has not, to my knowledge, made a big push into the field of superheroes as of yet, but these characters may change that. If you are a die-hard Superman or Captain America fan, I would suggest you try it for the variety, but for fans of classic Vertigo and older Eclipse publications, you want to pick it up. This issue, while not perfect, shows that there is a sensibility that used to be right under the current at those publishers. Here it comes out complete and salutes.
The Vigilant One-Shot introduces a new class of superhero to the stands, and it’s British enough to make you want to take a look.
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