Parolee Turn Washington and Detective Chip Christopher – cogs in a justice machine that isn’t just. Can either of them find what they’re looking for: validation or vindication? Find out in our Major Spoilers review of Vindication #4!
Writer: MD Marie
Pencils: Carlos Miko
Inks: Dema Jr.
Colors: Thiago Goncalves
Letters: Troy Peteri
Publisher: Top Cow Productions, Inc. and Image Comics, Inc.
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: May 8th, 2019
Previously in Vindication: Turn Washington served ten years for a crime he didn’t commit. Detective Chip Christopher made his bones putting Washington away. Released from prison, Washington vows to find those who framed him, while Christopher vows to put him away again, for good.
Who is the US justice system meant to serve? The victim? The perpetrator? The police? Society? Vindication #4 touches on all of these, without really coming to a satisfactory answer.
I’ll be frank. Vindication #4 is a tough, sometimes confusing read. It’s a compelling read, granted, but there are elements displayed that can leave a reader scratching their head – some of which are own goals by the creative team.
Race is at the heart of Vindication #4 and the overall series. At this distance, I won’t pretend to say I fully understand the dynamics at play between racism and policing in America, but Vindication #4 makes a decent stab at doing more than scratching the surface of the issue. I will say though that this series, with its dense writing and plotting, makes a decent stab at conveying the overall sense of sullen rage, denials and confusion at play.
Reading Vindication #4 is like diving into a novella. There are so many characters involved in the plot, all with something to say at length, that the reader should be prepared to give more than they would to this issue than your standard superhero comic. Writer MD Marie goes to great effort to make his characters feel like actual people. Most of the time it works, but occasionally some leaden writing can leave the character, and the story, flailing. For example, we have a scene where a juror, Jensen, visits Washington’s mother. It’s unclear why he’s there, but the next time we see him, without any intervening connecting event, he’s in custody being questioned by the police. It throws the reader off kilter and undermines your faith in the writer.
ART THAT SUITS THE MOOD
The art team of penciler Carlos Miko, inker Dema Jr, and colorist
Thiago Goncalves brings a dour tone to their work. Vindication #4 isn’t what one would describe as flashy – it’s the mean streets of LA, populated by lowlifes, shattered urban infrastructure and a harried police force. The art looks like’s it’s been brought to life through a coffee filter – browns proliferate, and all the colors are dull and lifeless. I was left somewhat confused about characters in Vindication #4 – some are too similar, and others seem to change facial features from panel to panel. It’s not a deal breaker, but with an issue that requires utmost concentration, you could be left floundering trying to work out who is who. But if you wanted the artwork to match the tone, then Vindication #4 is the place to be.
This is the last issue of the series, and I was left feeling aggrieved how it just seemed to fizzle out. I’m unsure if that’s the writer being true to his vision – in real life, how many of us actually get our hero moment or our chance at full (ahem) vindication? Not many, I’d say. So when I saw the story just ends, I mean exactly that. Couple that with a panel on the last page where an apparently errantly directed word balloon flatly contradicts something said in the previous panel, and I was left feeling a little flattened myself.
BOTTOM LINE: GRIPPING, KIND OF.
America feels like it’s at a crossroads today. Though really, America has always felt like it’s been at a crossroads. Vindication #4, and the wider series, feels like an attempt at decoding the mystery of what to do next, where to turn to in search of an answer, how to solve a seemingly the intractable moment of crime and race. But, perhaps that’s too much weight to rest on a narrow foundation. Whatever you think of the series, and this final issue, I don’t think you can argue that at least it reaches for a credible depiction of a world that feels alien, but can be frighteningly close.
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Crime, punishment and the search for justice intermingle in an issue that mostly sticks the landing. Vindication #4 is a tough, but worthwhile read and if some of the elements don’t always cohere, it’s a valiant effort at trying to come to terms with the real world as it is, and not how we would like it to be.