Publisher: Vertigo Comics
Story: Lee Bermejo
Art: Alessandro Vitti
Release Date: 30th March, 2016
It’s safe to say that Vertigo have been absolutely crushing it lately, churning out ambitious, challenging books at an almost dizzying pace. Of all their announced releases however, Suiciders: Kings of Hell.A is the one I was perhaps looking forward to most. Lee Bermejo really grabbed my attention with his dark, post-apocalyptic gladiator story last year, and with this new series promising to take us out of the walled cities and into the violent, gang-infested streets of a Los Angeles trying to recover from the biggest earthquake in recorded history… well… let’s just say this first issue couldn’t come soon enough for me.
While he provided both the writing and the artwork for the original Suiciders series, Bermejo hands off the visuals to the supremely talented Alessandro Vitti here, save for a brief introduction which Bermejo illustrates himself. And do you know what? I think it’s for the best. Don’t get me wrong, Bermejo is undoubtedly one of most strikingly gifted artists on the scene today, but the previous series lost a lot of its momentum in later issues, and already, Kings of Hell.A feels like a tighter, more structured read – presumably as a result of Bermejo being able to give the story his full undivided attention this time around.
While the opening introduction serves as a beautiful showcase for Bermejo’s painted style, Vitti is definitely the right choice for the dirty, chaotic and brutally violent streets of the post-quake Los Angeles. His scratchy style does a tremendous job of portraying emotion and impact, and even in the mass brawl which dominates the closing pages of the issue he still manages to keep things almost impossibly detailed and shockingly easy to follow.
The story revolves around two siblings, Trix and Johnny, who have grown up in the post-quake world, the former being born in the rubble of Los Angeles mere minutes after the ‘big one’ hit. While this first issue primarily serves as just a brief introduction to the pair, we do get a sharp, brutal taste of their world as their ongoing beef with a rival gang turns physical, with the introduction of an “OG Suicider” offering up some intriguing questions for the remainder of the series.
While the characters themselves aren’t quite fleshed out just yet, the world itself most definitely is, and Bermejo and Vitti’s creative partnership hits you like a brick to the face, providing a shocking, visceral introduction to this bleak and violent world. Highest of recommendations for this one, folks.
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