The Moviehunter

Pulp Culture
New titles give
Vertigo comics
renewed life


September 26, 2002
By Franklin Harris

DC Comics' mature-readers imprint, Vertigo, is undergoing a minor renaissance, mostly because of two new titles.

The first is "Fables" by writer Bill Willingham, penciler Lan Medina and inker Steve Leialoha.

Imagine that the fairytales of your childhood are all true. Snow White, Rose Red, the Big Bad Wolf and all the rest are real people, forced to live in exile ever since their kingdoms fell to a mysterious adversary.

Welcome to Fabletown. Here, Old King Cole is Mayor for Life, but Snow White, Fabletown's director of operations, is the one who really runs the show.

She's smart. She's beautiful. And she's in a really bad mood, because she has been betrayed one time too many.

Meanwhile, Snow's ex-husband, Prince Charming, has loved and left just about eligible young lady in the Fable community. Now, he scams free meals — and sometimes more — off of pretty, unsuspecting waitresses.

And who better to keep law and order in Fabletown than Bigby, the reformed Big Bad Wolf? He may be disguised as a human, but he can still sniff out clues better than anyone.

Fabletown exists alongside our world. It's just around the corner, so to speak, and if you know where to look. Willingham has created a compelling universe full of down-and-out expatriates whose "happily ever after" isn't all that happy.

In December, Vertigo will publish "Fables: Legends in Exile," a trade paperback collecting the first five-issue "Fables" story arc. So, I won't spoil the plot, which revolves around the disappearance of Snow White's party-girl sister, Rose Red.

"Fables" No. 6, which arrives in comic-book shops on Oct. 6, begins a new tale, drawn by incoming penciler Mark Buckingham. It's the perfect jumping-on point for new readers.

The second new Vertigo series is "Y: The Last Man," by Brian K. Vaughan (writer) Pia Guerra (co-writer and penciler) and Jose Marzan (inker).

Think it would be great to be the last man on Earth? Guess again.

Yorick Brown has half the world out to get him — the female half. The male half mysteriously dropped dead, and no one is quite sure why. Of course, no one has had much time to find out, seeing as how the entire world has tumbled into chaos.

The vast majority of the world's leaders were men, as were most of the doctors, lawyers, airline pilots, soldiers, you name it. Before whatever it was struck down half the population, Margaret Valentine was the secretary of agriculture. Now she is president of the United States.

Some women want to kill Yorick. Others want to capture him and sell him to the highest bidder. And others want to use him to repopulate the planet, and not necessarily the fun way.

Yorick has one thing going for him: He is an escape artist.

Series creators Vaughan and Guerra have put together one of the most ambitious new comic books in years. It's part adventure and part social commentary. And if the first three issues are any indication, men don't have a monopoly on making a mess of things.

But it isn't only new titles that are breathing renewed life into Vertigo.

New writer Mike Carey is giving "Hellblazer," formerly Vertigo's flagship title, a much-needed boost. The first issue of his tenure, No. 175, takes a big step in the right direction by returning the title's protagonist, John Constantine, to his native England.

Meanwhile, Carey continues to give the devil his due in the pages of Vertigo's most consistently engrossing book, "Lucifer."

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