Review - VS #1 (@ImageComics)

"I can't abide a silence."

Everyone loves a good game show. The people playing the game show typically also love it as well, unless the game show involves lots of gunplay and the threat of death. VS #1 from Image Comics has all of the above. The issue is written by Ivan Brandon, illustrated by Esad Ribić, colored by Nic Klein and lettered by Aditya Bidikar.

War has become a spectator sport. Privately funded armies of superstar soldiers march into battle for fame, profit, and the glory of their sponsor nations. When a new generation of soldiers arrive, top gladiator Satta Flynn is about to discover how fleeting the limelight can be.

Flynn is the main character, recovering from a severe injury and Brandon writes him with an abundance of grit and perseverance that makes the theory that he's determined to get back out there that much more believable. Beyond the character development though, there's not much else in the way of details about the world Flynn lives in or why he's living in it. The brutality on display by Brandon is definitely pervasive throughout the issue in a way that brings to life most modern first-person shooter matches. Brandon does work in nice little show callouts that ensure the reader knows they're "watching" a reality show, but other than that there's not much else that really explains what's going on. Granted this is only the first issue and Brandon's got some time to explain what's what over the course of the series, but a little more information surrounding the show itself would've been helpful.

Ribić takes an interesting approach to the artwork in that it's not defined by clear linework. This approach provides a somewhat painted style to the book that fits extraordinarily well within the context of what's going on. The action is extremely fast-paced throughout as Ribić shows the reader how savage the show is across a variety of organized panels mixed in with those that are inset and overlaid. The reality show production callouts throughout are peppered in so as not to be obtrusive to the reader with Bidikar providing a slick looking interface style that's befitting of a high-tech society. Klein's colors provide a predominantly blue hue throughout the book that keeps the work primarily in the reality show.

VS #1 isn't a new concept, but it does provide some deeper characterization for the main character Flynn. Flynn is bound by the thirst for glory, even if that means sacrificing his corporeal body in that quest. Brandon's script is a slow-burn throughout the issue, carefully guarding details of the world while giving Flynn plenty of personality. Ribić's artwork is an appropriate match for the content of the story in that it's fluid enough to follow along with the combat. VS #1 is something new worth checking out.

VS #1 is available now.