This comic is proof Marvel is willing to try. The vocal outrage of always being served the same meal is met with this spicy plate. A shame, then, how much it feels like the success of this book, or apparent lack, will end up being proof for Marvel that this isn’t what the audience wants. Cries for something different don’t always equate to wallets opening for that difference. Amidst the spandex formula stands this book loud and proud. With one toe in the shared gene pool and the rest hanging in a radioactive breeze, the outcome is a book that delivers the illusion of the familiar while firmly smashing your face with the sort of creation people lauded Stan Lee for, but hate every else for attempting.
Our two new super teams, one apathetically heroic and the other heroically villanous, vie for page time and the bad guys take it in this battle. The heroes don’t do a lot but interact with some C-listers and allude to the fact they usually do plenty. It’s not riveting, whereas the villains light up the page. They get a mission, they rock vivid and diverse costumes, and they just seem like more fun.
The promise of Bullseye on the cover doesn’t quite pay off like many might be thinking or hoping. Not much has changed for Bullseye since Shadowland. This book isn’t planning on retconning anything or meddling in affairs when it can simply dance around them. As a MacGuffin, Bullseye works well. It’s when Lady Bullseye enters the scene that some elements fall down. Casey plays her for some strange laughs and it feels inconsistent to the character.
Nick Dragotta creates some great pages here. You could read this book without words and it would be awesome, but he meshes well with Casey’s insane thoughts and concepts. The little things are in effect, like the Damian Hellstrom panel or the throwback Bullseye/Daredevil panel that show Dragotta is a diverse talent. Brad Simpson’s colors bring out a strange quality to the art that makes this book feel like it takes place in the sweaty armpit of the Marvel Universe, and I mean that in the best way.
Joe Casey is doing to the Marvel Universe what Tyler Durden did to kid’s flicks. You have to pay close attention, and not blink, and you’ll get your perverse delight. Casey fans will love this because it’s just what he says he’ll set out to do. There’s a wicked pleasure seeing this book occur in the same playing field as the usual friendly standbys. It’s like someone just relieved themselves in the office watercooler and live streamed the rest of the day. “Vengeance” is a fun book, it’s certainly well made, but it’s going to have to work to find its audience.