by Jamison Ashley
*Be sure to check out the video at the end of this article for some insider rumblings.
Before getting to the title of this article, a bit of a primer may be in order. If you’ve never hear of DC Vertigo, it was an imprint of DC Comics created in 1993 to publish stories with more graphic or adult content that could not fit within the restrictions of the Comics Code Authority, thus allowing more creative freedom than DC’s main imprint. These comics were free to contain explicit violence, substance and drug abuse, sexuality, nudity, profanity, and other controversial subjects, similar to the content of R-rated films.
Although its initial publications were primarily in the horror and fantasy genres, it also published works dealing with crime, social commentary, speculative fiction, biography, and other genres. Originally publishing a mix of company- and creator-owned work, its current focus is on the latter. Many notable Vertigo series won the comics industry’s Eisner Award, including Sandman, Preacher, 100 Bullets, Y: The Last Man and Fables. Several of its books have been adapted to film and television including Constantine, A History of Violence, Stardust, and V for Vendetta, iZombie, Lucifer, and Preacher.
2018 marks the 25 year anniversary of Vertigo’s creation, and DC recently announced the return of the beloved Vertigo line with a brand new set of socially aware comic books. In a plan to make Vertigo more topical, this relaunch will focus on “bold voices across various entertainment backgrounds”, voices like the controversial game developer Zoë Quinn and atheist writer Mark Russell.
DC editor Mark Doyle said in the following press release:
We’re returning to our roots by spotlighting the most exciting new voices in comics, as well as bringing new voices to comics. From the corners of television, games, music, activism, podcasting, comics and more, all of our creators are passionate and have something to say. These sophisticated stories have amazing new characters and vast worlds to explore. That’s what it has always been about for me – new stories, new voices, new possibilities. We’re creating a new generation of DC Vertigo classics for readers of all genres.
Starting in September, Vertigo will launch a new series every month and each series will be offering commentary on a myriad of current social issues in what appears to be a very “on the nose” approach.
The lineup includes:
- BORDER TOWN from writer Eric M. Esquivel (Adventure Time, Starburns Presents) with art and covers by Ramon Villalobos (Nighthawk, America) will debut in SeptemberWhen a crack in the border between worlds releases an army of monsters from Mexican folklore into the small town of Devil’s Fork, Arizona, the residents blame the ensuing weirdness—the shared nightmares, the otherworldly radio transmissions, the mysterious goat mutilations—on “God-dang illegals.” With racial tensions supernaturally charged, it’s up to new kid in town Frank Dominguez and a motley crew of high school misfits to discover what’s REALLY going on
- HEX WIVES from writer Ben Blacker (co-creator of The Thrilling Adventure Hour) with art by Mirka Andolfo (WONDER WOMAN, SHADE, THE CHANGING GIRL) will debut in October“The women are too powerful. They must be tamed.” A malevolent conspiracy of men brainwashes a coven of witches to be subservient, suburban housewives. But it’s only a matter of time before the women remember their power…
- AMERICAN CARNAGE from writer Bryan Hill (TITANS show set to launch on the DC-branded digital service, MICHAEL CRAY) with art by Leandro Fernandez (THE NAMES, The Punisher Max) will debut in NovemberIn this thrilling crime saga, disgraced FBI agent Richard Wright, who is biracial but can pass for white, goes undercover in a white supremacist group believed to be responsible for the death of a fellow agent.
- GODDESS MODE from writer Zoë Quinn (Crash Override, featured in People’s 25 Women Who Are Changing the World and Forbes’ 30 Under 30) with art by Robbi Rodriguez (Spider-Gwen, FBP: FEDERAL BUREAU OF PHYSICS) will debut in DecemberIn a near future where all of humanity’s needs are administered by a godlike A.I., it’s one young woman’s horrible job to do tech support on it. But when Cassandra finds herself violently drawn into a hidden and deadly digital world beneath our own, she discovers a group of super-powered women and horrific monsters locked in a secret war for the cheat codes to reality.
- HIGH LEVEL from writer Rob Sheridan (former art director for Nine Inch Nails, co-creator of the Year Zero alternate reality game) with art by Barnaby Bagenda (THE OMEGA MEN, GREEN LANTERNS) will debut in 2019Hundreds of years after the world ended and human society was rebuilt from scratch, a self-interested smuggler with a price on her head is forced to traverse a new continent of danger and mystery to deliver a child messiah to High Level, a mythical city at the top of the world from which no one has ever returned.
- SAFE SEX from writer Tina Horn (host/producer of Why Are People Into That? podcast, writer/journalist/lecturer in sexual education and activism) and artist Mike Dowling(UNFOLLOW, 2000 AD) will debut in 2019A dystopian sci-fi thriller about a ragtag team of sex workers fighting for the freedom to love in a world where sexual pleasure is monitored, regulated and policed by the government.
- SECOND COMING from writer Mark Russell (God Is Disappointed in You, THE FLINTSTONES) with art by Richard Pace (IMAGINARY FIENDS) will debut in 2019God sends Jesus to Earth in hopes that he will learn the family trade from Sun-Man, an all-powerful superhero, who is like the varsity quarterback son God never had. But, upon his return to Earth, Christ is appalled to discover what has become of his Gospel and vows to set the record right.
So there you have it. The all-new line-up of “socially relevant, high-concept, inventive stories appealing to readers of all genres” according to DC. Which ones appeal to you? Is it the one about the “rag tag team of sex-workers” (Safe Sex) or maybe the snarky take on the central icon of the Christian faith with a dash of profanity and irreverence (Second Coming)? Or better yet, how about a book by the same woman who kicked off the entire GamerGate debacle but has never actually written a comic book (Goddess Mode)?
Jeremy Hamby of The Quartering notes that “DC Comics ignored the thousands of talented artists when bringing on this set of creators, ignoring people who are actually fans of comics and instead hired one of the most cancerous persons on the planet“: