Impressions of Brian K. Vaughan’s and Marcos Martin’s The Private Eye #4

(There’s A Proposal for Oral Sex At Some Point)

I’ve been reading The Private Eye (TPE) since the first issue dropped sometime in the spring this year. As my partner, close friends, and the people who let me talk about comics know, I’ve been and acolyte of Vaughan’s since my parents gave me the first deluxe volume of Runaways while I was a senior in high school. Since then, I’ve read all of Vaughn’s Runaways…run, Y:The Last Man, Pride of Baghdad, and the first two volumes of his current image title, the superb Saga. During that time I also converted my youngest sister, and a couple friends to Vaughnites, and take every opportunity to make new followers.

The Private Eye is available as pay-as-you-will over at Panel Syndicate and as much as I loved the notion of being able to get cash directly to the creators, I forked over squat for the first 3 issues. No excuse, I had the money, I just wasn’t a fan of the idea of buying something that’d end up amounting to 1’s and 0’s on my laptop. However, for this one I went ahead and gave up a pint of mid-level beer (3 bucks- the standard cost of a printed comic) this weekend in exchange for the latest offering from Vaughan and Martin.

The Private Eye #4
The Private Eye #4

That said, I’m not sure how I feel about The Private Eye, Vaughan’s first online-exclusive title. It’s a beautiful comic that takes full advantage of its digital format with fantastically vibrant colors that would be diminished by printing and also possesses Vaughn’s propensity for building rich and complex worlds that are like our own, but different enough to captivate page after page.

My main issue with TPE is that so far Vaughan hasn’t given me sufficient reason to care about his characters. Their dialogue is just as sparkling and clever as Yorick from Y or any of the Runaways, but unlike characters from either of those two comics, I don’t feel anything towards the title’s eponymous character.

So far he only serves to take us about this colorful future world that occurs in a time following an event called the Flood wherein everyone’s private online information has been made public and the entire adult population is forced to wear mask while out in public for fear that their past will catch up to them. Sounds cool, right? And it so is. This premise allows artist Marcos Martin to litter every panel with zany disguises while having it be a normal aspect of everyday life within the world of the comic. However, without much investment in a character whose name we still don’t know four issues in, I’m not sure I give a fuck if he bites it in the last issue.

Thankfully though, the end of this issue seems to be a huge turning point for the story so far and hopefully it’ll mean that we’ll get to see our main guy exhibit an emotion other than annoyance.

Dazzling Colors and Layouts for Days
Dazzling Colors and Layouts for Days

However, whereas Vaughan’s script leaves something to be desired, Martin and colorist Munsta Vicente make me want to take this comic over to my local printer to post all over my living room to the annoyance of my much saner roommate. Martin takes full advantage of screen dimensions and ditches traditional comic layout for one that’s more in keeping with a computer screen. The result is a comic that looks unlike any other I’ve read, and will probably be the reason I read through the end regardless of whether or not I end up caring about Vaughan’s PI.

Read if you want more colors in your life than the average rainbow, or if you like playing ‘Where’s Waldo’ type games in crowd shots.

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