Vescell explores a world where humanity can completely change their natural body type, but does the execution live up to the promise of the concept? The answer is just a click away.
Credits & Solicit Info:
Writer and Creator: Enrique Carrion
Art: John "Roc" Upchurch
Letterer and Logo: Rafael Diaz
Production Design: Rafael Diaz and Evelio Tamayo
Caught between the lines of the magic and science, Mauricio Barrino can see the world in a much different light than the average person. With such forces at his fingertips, are there feats that are beyond his abilities? The answers to these questions are just the beginning of the mysteries that await those who explore the world of Vescell.
It's truly amazing how much of personal perception of the world depends on our physical appearance. Of course, while one could say that our society has an unhealthy obsession with this, denial of how it plays into lives borders upon crippling ignorance. If such things didn't matter, how could industries that revolve around fat removal, "sexual organ enhancement", "exercise" and "food that's deemed better for our consumption" become such big business?
With such a focus on achieving these ideals, the question of how our world would change if such alterations could be gained through a "simple process becomes quite the compelling one. Would our vision of what humanity is be altered by such an achievement? These are the questions that the world that is "Vescell" makes us ponder, but is the first issue enough to make people want to journey further to find out the answers? The answer to this burning question Is just below you.
From the minute a person opens the cover to Vescell #1, the first departure that they'll realize comes from the structure of the book. Unlike most first issues these days, Vescell #1 is not primarily written for the trade in mind, as this comic contains two standalone stories whose primary function is to introduce you to the characters and the world where their stories will be taking place. Speaking of characters, the main character himself possesses two interconnecting departures that are quite will end up being quite a bit deal to a segment of the audience. To make sure everyone understands why, allow me to explain in further detail.
The first thing that everyone will notice from the first story page is that Mauricio "Moo" Barrino (the main character's name) is Black, something that is a lot more uncommon for the Sci-Fi super genre (and Comics in general) than one expects it to be. Beyond that surface uncommonality, the big thing that sets this character apart from many of those who share his race, is how his sexuality is portrayed. Unlike most Black Males in this medium that usually fall into the traps of being portrayed as either sexless or sexually objectified, Mauricio is definitely in control of his sexuality and it is through said sexuality that we learn about his motivations and character flaws. What it all adds up to is a character that isn't virtuous by any means, but one that's refreshingly different enough that you'll want to see what happens to him next.
As for the overall writing, Vescell #1 includes elements that both help and hinder the appeal of the book. For starters, this densly written work is extremely well written, as the deft and intelligent dialogue helps to make the move the story along immensely in many aspects, which in turn makes it not feel too wordy. The second thing that needs to be praised is the wealth of great ideas and elements presented. One of the best (and most controversial) examples of these ideas is how characters' views of their body image played directly into their self-esteem, making their choices all the more dramatic. Despite all of the great ideas, Vescell #1 nearly falls apart because there's almost too much going on at once between the jargon, story ideas and characterization notes. What this all adds up to is a comic that might repel some people due to the information overload. Still, with such strong writing and refreshing conceptualization, I can stick around to see if future issues will have the polish needed for the writing to become great.
If I gave out awards for "unexpected surprises of the week", this week's winner would easily be John "Roc" Upchurch. When this title was announced, the only piece of art available to the public was the cover to this issue that got people's attention for the "assets" it proudly displays and while said cover looks even better in person, the jury was still out on whether the quality would shine through this whole book, which it most certainly has. For starters, the character drawings are not just appealing to look at (and depending on your sexual orientation, that's quite the understatement), but they emote extremely well, which helps to make the strong dialogue, even stronger. The action scenes also feel top notch, due to the dramatic drawings and overall art direction which uses the amount of panels to get the most out of each of those scenes. Beyond those two positives, the one thing that struck me most of all is the uniqueness of the art in this comic, as Upchurch's drawings are unlike anyone else's in the Industry right now and considering the display of quality, that's an amazing thing. If he can keep this, the future is bright for him and for this book.
My Final 22 Cents:
As this review comes to a close, I can't sit here and consciously say that this book will be for everyone, due to how it handles sex and sexuality. With the history of how badly comics have handled sex, (in all aspects) many comics like this will have a tougher time reaching a wider audience due to the inevitable reaction this comic's cover will extract. With that said, I must applaud the creative team's bravery in not only embracing the sexy side of this story, but balancing it very well with the rest of the story.
When everything is said and done, Vescell #1 is a comic that wins me over due to its refreshing concept and sterling effort. It's those two things that allow this comic to leave a good impression on me despite the shortcomings I thought it might have had. With 33 Pages of story for $2.99, the value that this comic has from a content standpoint cannot be matched; something I wished more comics has in general. Here is to hoping future issues of "Vescell" can live up to the potential that this one showed. If it does, then the future is very bright for everyone involved.
Writing ***1/2: A well written comic with a lot of excellent ideas that would be excellent if each of those ideas get the time they needed to really seem like gold.
Art ****1/2: The biggest surprise of this comic was the well and uniquely drawn characters and set pieces that gave "Vescell" a fee all its own.
Accessibility ***1/2: While this book opens up on multiple reads, some people may dismiss this because of overstimulation that some may experience from so many things coming at them at once.
Final Judgment: ***1/2 (Very Good)
Review by: Linwood Earl Knight
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