Vindication #1 // Review
With slightly under 1% of the U.S. population in prison, the criminal justice system represents a substantial sub-population with a tremendous amount of complexity. Criminal justice is rarely as easy as any one story can illustrate. Writer M.D. Marie endeavors to tell a story of crime and punishment in modern America that reaches for something a bit more complex than the standard police procedural in the new title Vindication. The story is drawn by Carlos Miko with ink by Dema Jr. and color by Thiago Goncalves.
The story opens with an inmate named Turn Washington. He’s been released after serving three years of a life sentence without the possibility of parole. Evidence has cleared him of all charges. On his way out of prison, he is accosted by a homicide detective who is convinced that releasing Turn was a mistake. The “hero” of the first issue turns out to be that dark figure of a detective who assaults Turn after he’s released from prison. From there it’s a police procedural with some legitimate question of the ethics of the detective and the true innocence of the man who has been released.
Marie enters murky territory from the first issue. We don’t know who is “good” or “bad.” There’s evidence in the scripting that Marie isn’t even thinking in terms of heroes or villains in a shadowy story of crime from multiple angles. Marie’s dialogue feels more than a bit stiff in places. People have a tendency to speak in stiff exposition at times, though that’s a major hazard of trying to write a concise police procedural. The big thing that Marie’s got going for her in the future is a format that doesn’t necessarily need to have a neat wrap-up before the end of the movie or the beginning of the next episode. Things don’t have to have a satisfying conclusion in an ongoing story, especially if it turns into a long-running monthly serial. With open-ended comics as in life...things don’t always get resolved.
Miko and Dema Jr. etch a highly detailed world. There’s A LOT of work put into packing the panel with ink. Every line on every floor tile, slat and window blind comes across as clearly as every piece of stubble, spot of blood and link of fencing. The effect of all this detail is a rigidly defined realism that sometimes weighs-down the fluidity of the action on the page. Faces don’t always feel as expressive as they need to be to deliver emotion. that being said, there’s a very gritty and earthbound mood that makes Vindication a very unique experience in the comic book format delivered as it is with the muted, smartly dulled colors of Thiago Goncalves.
D.M. Marie is working with energies that could turn into something profoundly original and insightful. The first issue is making all the right movements towards the possibility of a moody gaze into the nature of crime in America, but for now it’s interesting enough to think of all the directions Marie’s story might head off in as the series begins its promising journey.