After a more than impressive run in Volumes One & Two of Vanguard, Dan Butcher was good enough to let me get an early look at the third volume ahead of it’s launch at this weekends True Believers Comic Festival.
This picks up the story 15 years after the events of the previous book and the crumbling remains of the UK sees everyone still scrambling for survivor in what’s now a dictatorship. There’s a definite shift in power as the masses now exist in a police-state with more rules & limitations than you can imagine but Dan’s ability to tie worlds together has never been more obvious than when he’s taking less than obvious elements and weaving them together.
The “innocent” masses and those in power are at loggerheads with each other but hidden in the shadows we see an ever-present tyrannical force contrasting against an uprising where familiar faces are stepping back up to the front-line. That inevitably becomes an intriguing list of elements to play-off against each other and with the likes of mystical powers, super-powers and corporate powers all vying for the spotlight I’m convinced that this only works because it’s all in the hands of one creator.
The familiar faces coming back into the game are the grounding elements they need to be and actually bring with it a strong sense of that superhero world that the story originated from but with a new roster of differing characters to explore, there’s a glimmer of the torch being passed in Dan’s creation. The action is still there too but with the same air of risk that we’ve come to expect given the surprise casualties we’ve seen already. That’s dropped in among an increasingly intricate plot which highlights that Dan’s been playing the long game since the beginning.
This third book quickly becomes a new high for Dan as his writing & art have both developed exponentially from that opening issue. The world building is on point but with the amount of dialogue & narration built into Vanguard it avoids an ever-increasing trend of over-writing in indie comics by being in the hands of one person. The pacing is key to that but the characterisation and blend of the elements all become crucial parts in being able to keep things coherent. I have to mention Martin Simpson’s cover for this book too which takes the whole theme of this third volume and smashes you in the face with it…..amazing.
This third volume, and the whole run in fact, feels like a prime example of how to construct a series that can last for a long-time & still remain fresh, and that’s something that mainstream titles have been lacking for me in more recent times. As the indie comics world becomes something I’m more & more involved with…..it’s a title like Vanguard that acts as the reward for that and has become an example of a story growing as the creator does……and one that I can’t really find a flaw in. Take a bow Dan……take a bow.
You can pick up this and the previous volumes from Dan at this weekend’s True Believers Comic Festival in Cheltenham (Sat 1st Feb).
You can read the whole series over on Dan’s Vanguard website or over on the Comichaus App and keep updated about all the other projects he’s working on over on Facebook & Twitter. Dan’s also got a pretty damn slick Patreon page to consider as well & I strongly recommend that you listen in to the Awesome Comics Podcast that Dan co-presents as there’s a world of comic chat & fun to be had there too.