review by Kevin McCluskey
Story and Characters- B.J. Mendelson
Art and Letters- Piotr Czaplarski
The first thing that strikes you about B.J. Mendelson (author of the superbly titled ‘Social Media Is Bullshit’) and Piotr Czaplarski’s ‘Vengeance, Nevada’ is the cover. The simple silhouette and the use of blood spattered reds and whites on the all black background is reminiscent of Frank Miller’s work on ‘Sin City.‘ It is a pity therefore that the font used for the title of the series is minimalist to the point of having no design element to it whatsoever and unfortunately, it detracts from, rather than enhances the quality of the cover.
Czaplarski’s interior artwork and lettering are both stylish however and the visuals benefit from the flourishes of colour employed throughout, which contrast with the heavy, bold inks and stark whites that he utilises in the main. The use of colour throughout the issue, in what is essentially a black and white comic, is restrained, punctuating the monochrome to heighten drama or accentuate characters. The character designs themselves are solid, they're easily indentifiable, dynamic, expressive and the backgrounds provide a palpable sense of place for them to inhabit, particularly the main setting of the Nevada desert.
It would appear that the comic has been constructed with a digital format, rather than print in mind, as the panels generally flow from top to bottom rather than left to right, with Czaplarski often preferring to layer panels on top of and within each other, as opposed to having them side-by-side and using gutters between them.
Described as a “wild, superhero-horror adventure set in the American West, ‘Vengeance, Nevada,’ with its David Bowie, Robert Frost and ‘Star Wars’ references, reads like a very personal, yet outward-looking, passion project that juggles being a character piece against mythos and the world building of a potentially epic narrative. If anything, it’s overly ambitious and tries to pack too much into its 27 pages. As a result, it’s so tightly written that it’s overwrought and sometimes seems somewhat uncertain of exactly what it wants to be. It's also somewhat confusing, with its time, as well as location jumps without caption boxes to aid the readers perception of them, but it skips along at a brisk pace and as the pieces of the puzzle start to snap into place, the overall picture becomes much clearer and as such it’s still an enjoyable read.
Mendelson opens out his story to reveal a broader canvas than the initial pages would suggest and by the conclusion of the issue, has succeeded in setting the stage for further adventures within his world. It justifies, and perhaps requires, more than a single read-through due to how dense it is and in this way, it reminds me of the comics I grew up on from the Silver Age. There’s so much compressed into this single issue, that it may be disconcerting for readers who are more familiar with the slower paced nature of today’s comics storytelling. However, it does manage to distill its overall premise, as well as character backstory into a single issue tale that encompasses domesticity, underlying politics, interstellar conflicts, Arthurian legend and a team that are a sci-fi tech, superhero version of ‘Charlie’s Angles’ or the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad from ‘Kill Bill,’ with Bolo from ‘The Mighty Boosh’ thrown in for good measure.
It would be interesting to see where the creative team are intending to take this series, because as you're making your way through this issue you get the distinct impression that Mendelson and Czaplarski are becoming comfortable with their story as they're progressing. As a result, despite the fact that 'Vengeance, Nevada' stumbles in this first outing, by the end of its 27th page, it has found its feet enough to have me interested in coming back for another issue.
'Vengeance, Nevada' is available from Comixology for a mere 69p at