FCBD 2013: Absolution: The Beginning (Avatar)


3.5 / 5 – If you like violent books where the hero has to rise above the system to mete out lethal justice, check it out.

Avatar has carved out a niche as home to the edgiest comics out in the market place and Absolution is no exception. I was unaware of this character as I have read some Avatar books but not that many.  This book is previously reprinted material from the original series along with a four page preview of the new Absolution series starting in July (Absolution: Rubicon).  The full original series is in trade.

Absolution places us in a world where we have super powered individuals but they are integrated into society.  Several of them serve as members of the police force, including testifying in court.  We follow super powered policeman John Dusk as he works the most unpleasant beat, dealing with the worst of the worst.  We come into the story after he has seen too many years and too many horrors.  What happens when he goes too far and one of the super powered villains dies during a difficult arrest?  Any of you that have seen Death Wish, can probably take an educated guess.  We then follow our hero as he steps over that line between policeman and vigilante (while portrayed in a sympathetic light).

Writer Christos Gage was the big draw for me on this book with art chores handled by Roberto Viacava (color by Digikore Studios).  As noted, while I am not an Avatar expert, their books do seem to have a similar feel from the art perspective.  I would not go so extreme as to say there is a “house style” but whether it is the trade dress, coloring or some other factors, this had the look of an Avatar book to me.  I was not familiar with Viacava, but he gets it done.  This book presents a few difficulties as it is a fairly large cast, many of them out of costume.  He is able to render a variety of body types and ages in a convincing manner.  The storytelling and action scenes are also well handled.

The four page preview with art by Daniel Gete, leaves us with Dusk still a vigilante and still killing the bad guys.  We open up on a courtroom where a sleazy lawyer is getting his client free because Dusk’s original testimony can no longer be trusted in light of his subsequent actions.  The unrepentant bad guy explains to his cohorts how he will sue the city right before Dusk tracks him down and explains that he may be the first of his former arrests to be freed but he will take care of them all in a more permanent fashion.

One small pet peeve, is that I wish they had moved the forward to the end.  Gage gives a brief summary of the book and where the idea came from.  Unfortunately he includes some real life inspiration which when the scene is then in the book (with a different outcome), the scene is robbed somewhat of its impact.  I would have preferred to have my first experience of it be in the narrative and then learn of its origins.

This is an Avatar book, so you have your requisite scenes of graphic horror as our hero goes after serial killers.  The book is reminiscent of the wave of revenge action films that started in the ‘70s and bled into the ‘80s.  We see an ineffectual system that paroles hardened criminals who immediately return to their crimes, sadistic monsters who game the system to get away with horrible actions.  Finally, the protagonist is forced to take justice into his own hands to protect society.  Gage takes the approach of the gradual crossing of the line, in lieu of a climactic turn.  The entire team handles the matter deftly but there really isn’t too much new ground here.  The comic has a view point and an agenda but one it shares with plenty of other stories.  If those sorts of themes interest you and the “mature” nature also suits you, then both books would be a good choice.

Reviewed by: Andrew Sanford – andrew@comicspectrum.com
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