Dan Butcher’s Vanguard already impressed with the first volume collection and with the Superhero web-comic already showing a relentless level of progress I had high hopes the same would continue when the second volume saw print.
The Vanguard team and the whole world were rocked by the events in those first five issues and with issues 6-9 in this second volume we see the world continue to unravel. The problems for the Vanguard team are just as real as they always were with secret plots to undermine them and to cause chaos across the globe that they’ll struggle to cope with……….and that’s exactly what they get. The team becomes fragmented as they try to juggle the life of superheroes and the very real life elements that niggle away at them as they try to save the world.
Add the increasing pressure on the Government & the military and the riots begin to take hold on streets across the world with the Vanguard team needed more than ever. Cue an ever-complex plot that could have easily been caught up in itself but the magic of Vanguard is that Dan is writer & artist for his creation and that allows the world to be balanced out perfectly. Long stretches of dialogue are needed to ground the story with a sense of reality while balancing that off with some poignant moments for some of the individual team members and a shitload of action gives this a well-rounded outlook across the whole second volume.
The appearance of Team Xtreme with ex-Vanguard member Gradlon on the scene helps add further layers and with the realization that anyone in the whole cast can be killed-off at the whim of their creator makes sure that this has a much fresher feeling than just another run-of-the-mill superhero story with zero risk – an idea that Dan had already introduced in that first volume but certainly develops in this run.
The end result is a second volume that takes the foundation built-in those first few issues and takes it to a whole new level. People die in this release and each one feels like a gut-punch meaning those deaths hurt and the risks being taken by all the heroes in Vanguard instantly become much more significant. The story weaves through its politics, its in-fighting among the team, it’s rivalry between the teams and it’s action-filled sequences with great ease – the result of having one person steering the story & art in the direction the story needs.
Dan’s writing and long-term goals for the title seem to be gaining momentum as he surprises us at every turn and all while his art explodes off the pages in the most entertaining way possible. The main gain here is that while we live in a world with a superhero saturated comic scene it’s reassuring that something like Vanguard can pave the way for a fresh approach that treats the reader to a story of Superheroes with real consequences and that makes this & the previous volume worth reading & re-reading.
This second volume makes it’s print debut at London Super Comic Con this weekend where you’ll be able to get your hands on the first volume too.