The Vigil is a new superhero team book that is a part of DC’s We Are Legends initiative, celebrating Asian American and Pacific Islander Month. As these characters were previously teased in a Lazarus Planet tie-in alongside Red Hood and then made an appearance in Detective Comics, it seemed that they were being set up as Batman adjacent or at least Gotham operators. After getting into this first issue, it seems that isn’t the case but who knows? Maybe they’ll swing back into Gotham as this miniseries progresses. Regardless, I’m happy to review anything written by Ram V, one of my favorite writers in all of comics. So, let’s go!
I think most people would agree that new character initiatives are usually lucky to produce one popular character no matter the volume of new additions or the quality of creators. Who else remembers the New Age of DC Heroes? So, it’s unfortunate that these We Are Legends books are not particularly likely to hit it big. That’s probably why they were all announced as 6 issue miniseries instead of ongoing titles despite not being labeled as such on the cover. If one of these titles sells well enough it will definitely receive an extension but clearly, DC isn’t taking the risk of selling these as ongoings before they’ve proven themselves. Honestly, it’s understandable given the fact that popular characters like Cyborg or Aquaman can’t even support ongoings anymore. My point though is that The Vigil is a title that has a lot of potential to be something special, despite the challenges up against it.
The book is well written but I wouldn’t expect anything less of Ram V. What makes this title interesting to me is what it could become: an important element of the DC universe. The biggest component that could make that possible is the characters. It’s difficult to create new superheroes worth a second glance at this point. There are too many already. Despite that, these guys are legitimately pretty cool. Design-wise, they hit the nail on the head. Each member of this team has a memorable aesthetic that is just detailed enough to be interesting but simple enough to be iconic. Though we don’t know much about who each member is as a person yet, the ones we’ve been introduced to have clever power-sets that aren’t just swiped from some other character. It also works to these characters’ benefit that they aren’t American or (so far) based in the United States. They would have fit the initiative if they were Indian American just fine but there’s already a superhero for every major city in the USA. Meanwhile, you can count heroes from the rest of the world on your fingers. There is a space to fill and less competition sets this title up for success. I, for one, would like to see more non-American superheroes find success. This industry needs more new perspectives anyway.
What’s this book offering in execution though? Well, at this point we’re still finding the lay of the land. V structures this issue around a new operative joining the Vigil and shrewdly drops her directly into a command center as the field team is executing a mission.
Her unfamiliarity gives the opportunity for a lot of exposition that feels natural and comes up organically as the plot progresses. Since a mission is at hand, we also get some solid action scenes to break things up. As a first issue, this does a great job of setting up intrigue and introducing most of the players. The only area I think it falls short in is characterization. We learn very little about who most of these characters are; though that isn’t necessarily surprising or a bad thing. This is only the first issue after all. As long as we get to know these people in the coming issues, I won’t be complaining.
Lalit Kumar Sharma’s artwork at times falls short of the writing’s standard, unfortunately. Though it is mostly consistent and anatomically it looks alright, I find the linework to be heavy-handed and at times lacking depth. There’re also some flubbed panels floating around which are unfortunate.
I do think Sharma has something going for him though. He has a defined style, at its best his work can be very dynamic and energetic, he knows when to draw backgrounds and when to skip them, and his sequential storytelling and page layouts are strong. If his work was a bit more refined (maybe a dedicated inker would help) I think it could be quite special.
- You want some strong new characters
- Taking a break from Batman for a week sounds nice
- You’d like to add Sumit Kumar’s beautiful covers to your collection
It’s not that DC needs new characters. What they need is new angles and perspectives and as it happens, new characters are sometimes the best way to get that. This issue is a strong start for this troupe and I’m very excited to see what it could grow into. Come on, DC readers, let’s make this series sell well enough to become an ongoing!
DISCLAIMER: DC Comics provided Batman News with a copy of this comic for the purposes of this review.