So, it’s finally here! As noted on the cover “The Unlikeliest Hero” gets his own book… a series no one thought would ever happen. Yet here it is, Vibe #1, starring the break dancing, Latin stereotype from the reviled “Justice League Detroit” one of the least successful revamps in comic history. So how did it turn out?
The book stars Francisco “Cisco” Ramon, who is also sometimes called Paco by his brothers. When Darkseid attempted to conquer the Earth five years ago, his first stop was Detroit, where Cisco lived with his father and two older brothers Armando and Dante. Armando is about to become the first person in their family to go to college, thanks to his skills at football. But when Darkseid’s potal opens, Cisco gets sucked in between dimensions, permanently altering his body. Armando manages to pull Cisco out just as Darkseid’s first Parademon emerges and kills the older brother.
In the present, Cisco works at a big box electronics store, while Dante appears to be a freeloading slacker. Dale Gunn (also a character from the JLDetroit era), agent of A.R.G.U.S. confronts Cisco and explains his true nature, that his body is sort of a nexus into the various parallel worlds. As such, he can sense beings from other dimensions, which Gunn demonstrates by taking Cisco to a house with a Parademon inside. Gunn tells him that this is the same one that killed Armando. Cisco explodes with energy and ultimately unleashes his sonic vibrations on the creature, accidentally killing him. Gunn then takes him in and gives him a suit and the codename Vibe and plans to make him a member of the new Justice League of America. But this being a fictional government agency, things aren’t what they seem and there are some dark goings-on behind the scenes.
In all, not bad! The Ramon brothers are likeable enough. Amanda Waller’s personality is consistent with her appearances elsewhere in DC’s lineup. There was one awesome Easter Egg that really excited me. (Hint, it also ties into JLDetroit… but one of the better parts!)
As far as the writing, I could feel a bit that Geoff Johns knew he was fighting an uphill battle here. By that I mean maybe he and co-writer Andrew Kreisberg handled it a bit too gingerly. While the dialogue is strong and the overall tone was entertaining, the story felt a bit safe and I didn’t like that the main character was just along for the ride. Usually a super hero discovers their powers on their own, but here he’s told he has powers and basically created by Dale Gunn. So that aspect was less than compelling, but I’m interested enough to stick around and see where this goes.
The art, by Pete Woods is extremely clean and attractive, contrasting with David Finch’s gritty style on Justice League of America. I read them back to back and the contrast was jarring, but that doesn’t take away from either. Woods work is bright and reflects the optimism of the lead character. I think it’s a perfect fit, but I do wonder how two up-beat characters like Vibe and Stargirl are going to work on a team that is seemingly a more grim and gritty team.
In all, the book works. It’s entertaining and you can tell the creators are really handling this one with care. Unfortunately, maybe they need to loosen up a bit. But it was good! Nice artwork. Interesting characters. Decent story. I’ll give this at least a few more issues.
Written by Geoff Johns and Andrew Kreisberg
Art by Pete Woods
Cover by David Finch