Resurrection time…. forgotten pieces from Vertigo’s past

Published On March 11, 2011 | By Richard Bruton | Comics, Reviews

Vertigo Resurrected: Shoot and other stories

Written by Warren Ellis, Brian J. Bolland, Brian Azzarello, Grant Morrison, Garth Ennis, Steven T. Seagle, Peter Millgan, Bill Willingham and Bruce Jones.

Art by Phil Jimenez, Andy Lanning, Brian Bolland, Essad Ribic, Frank Quitely, Jim Lee, Tim Sale, Eduardo Risso, Bill Willingham, Bernie Wrightson, Tim Bradstreet.

DC/Vertigo

Vertigo Resurrected is a “100-page spectacular” designed by DC to hoover up all of the little odds and ends from around the place – the Vertigo equivalent of rooting down the back of the sofa and putting the few quid you find in a jar.

It collects together stories from a few of Vertigo’s weird little comics from the last decade and change; Weird War Tales, Strange Adventures, Flinch and Heartthrobs.

But the obvious draw in Shoot is the never before published Warren Ellis written and Phil Jiminez drawn John Constantine Hellblazer issue “Shoot“.

Warren Ellis:

“……..which never saw print because it was about schoolyard shootings in the States and Columbine happened a couple of weeks before publication…… It’s a horror story. It’s intended to chill and disturb. It was, I was told, a little too chilly and disturbing for the time. I disagreed, and still do.”

And it does chill and disturb. Well, sort of. But in so many ways this is just too damn slight. 22 pages long, and 16 of them are spent in relatively quiet and very quick to read observation of an agent working for a Senate Committee looking at the phenomenon of schoolyard shootings and continually looking for that one defining problem to pint the killings on –  whether it be drugs, video games, E numbers, the latest pop tune played backwards or even those dangerous comicbooks.

But there’s nothing, no connection. Except …. one man, one blonde, trenchcoated man who keeps popping up in the back of the footage at each killing.

Starting with this on page 17, the book’s final pages act as something akin to a Bill Hicks style stand up rant with Constantine preaching to the investigator and Ellis preaching to the converted, an idea blast, using Constantine as his mouthpiece. It’s good, but it’s not great.

It is, in the end, just another 22 pages of John Constantine – and within 22 pages Constantine really can only show up, point out some trouble and do something to solve it. Although that’s what used to happen. Here, with Ellis’ open, fast, decompressed storytelling style, there’s not even the chance to sort it out – here he just turns up, has a rant and points out the problem.

It’s also a familiar style for anyone who’s every watched or heard comedian preachers like Hicks or George Carlin or countless others through the years. Knowing their work, you can imagine them doing exactly the same thing. But here, using Constantine, Ellis, although not really bringing anything new, certainly produces a good, if slight, piece.

(“Diagnosis”: Tim Sale’s art twists and turns through so many styles in just a few short pages of this Steven T. Seagle written short.)

And although you might be here for the Ellis written, Jiminez drawn opener, it’s well worth the price for the other 8 strips, and although they’re not all classics, there is a remarkably good quality to filler ratio here in the slightly less than 100 pages to this “100-page spectacular”.

The absolute best of them has to be Steven Seagle and Tim Sale’s “Diagnosis” which plays with language, with obsession, with paranoia – all to the backdrop of Sale’s gorgeous artwork, rich and easily switching styles to serve the story.

(Frank Quitely’s Action Man – so real, so “life-like”! From the short piece “New Toys”, written by Grant Morrison)

The Morrison & Quitely piece is great, albeit more for the fun of seeing a very different sort of Toy Story than anything else, but between Seagle & Sale, Morrison & Quitely and Ellis & Jiminez, there’s more than enough to please the reader in Vertigo Resurrected.

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About The Author

Richard Bruton
- Started in comics retail aged 16 at Nostalgia & Comics, Birmingham. Now located in Yorkshire, he's written for the Forbidden Planet International Blog since 2007. Specialising in UK Comics and All-Ages comics, Richard's day job in a primary school allowed him to build the best children's graphic novel library in the country.

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