Rating: 5/5 – Lee Bermejo at His Best Doing Post-Apocalyptic Gladiators!
by ComicSpectrum senior reviewer Shawn Hoklas
After reading the first issue of the Suiciders I’m not quite sure the direction of the book is headed in, but I’m excited about finding out. Lee Bermejo who’s best known for his work at DC including the 2008 Joker hardcover and his Lex Luthor mini-series is now bringing his ideas to Vertigo in a story taking place in a California that’s gone through “the big one”, an earthquake that has left the city of Los Angeles in ruins and separated from the rest of the United States. Since that destruction, the city has turned to a form of entertainment that’s reminiscent of the gladiator fights of ancient Rome with “Suiciders” becoming the gladiatorial heroes the city comes to know and love.
Fortunately, Suiciders isn’t just about big fights within impressive arenas. Bermejo is taking his time in this first issue to show that there’s a lot of story to be told, not only about this new form of entertainment that’s exploded in popularity, but also about the way society has changed in a city that’s cut off from the rest of the world and how that affects the people that live there. Bermejo infuses immigration scenarios into the story that are just as strong as the action itself, and ends this premier issue with a powerful scene showing just how much a culture can change when a disaster strikes.
The story was so enjoyable from beginning to end, I’ve read most of Bermejo’s work and I feel as though this is him at his best. The page layouts are creative and cinematic and the detail he’s pouring into each page is extraordinary. Seeing the Suicider known as the Saint being prepped for battle in a full page splash is a perfect example of the amount of thought and time going into Bermejo’s art. The Saint is being dressed in multiple armor plates by a team of helpers that’s similar to a Nascar team prepping and fixing a race car during a pit stop. The action scenes also stand out, especially with Matt Hollingsworth providing the colors. In the arena scenes while the two Suiciders fight, neon signs flash words like “Kill”, “Burn” and more. Hollingsworth is able to delicately balance the violence with spectacle, making it all feel real.
With Suiciders, Lee Bermejo is creating a world where violent entertainment is attempting to cover up a depressing and regrettably altered reality. Bermejo is writing and drawing this new series that will be told in arcs, allowing him to maintain his unique singular vision. As this first issue went along I was starting to see just how many layers there are to the story and each one became as interesting as the last. This is Bermejo at his best. There are so many panels and pages that will stay with me long after I finished reading that I can’t wait to see more.
Reviewed by: Shawn Hoklas
https://comicspectrum.com/ Covering the full spectrum of comics culture