Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Writer(s): Damon Gentry and Troy Nixey
Artist: Troy Nixey
Colourist: Michelle Madsen
Release Date: 21st March 2018
Vinegar Teeth is, as the title suggests, a strange combination of things that you wouldn’t usually put together. If you mixed a standard police procedural and 1950s science-fiction B-movie, you would have the basic mixture for this strange concoction, which revolves around the pairing of Detective Artie Buckle, a damn fine detective and a damn awful human being, with an extra-terrestrial creature, the titular Vinegar Teeth, as the pair fight crime both on the streets and across the stars.
The comic practically pulses in its punchy pacing; Vinegar Teeth is discovered by Buckle during the opening frames of the first issue, during a sting operation in which Vinegar Teeth proceeds to eat the suspect, ruining Buckle’s long-term undercover work. The creature is subsequently made a police officer and, to Buckle’s dismay, Buckle’s new partner.
Grabbing the reader with its tentacles from the outset, the story whisks us through the dirty, dystopian underworld of Brick City. The fact that the comic was penned by Troy Nixey, along with Damon Gentry, means that Nixey’s design of the repulsive characters, the throbbing, putrid city they inhabit, and indeed Vinegar Teeth’s Lovecraftian, fleshy, and bloody mass, is both immersive and visceral. Michelle Madsen’s acidic and primary palette gives the comic the added pop it needs, particularly around the extensive body horror, which lends it more than a little Cronenbergian seasoning.
Vinegar Teeth brings to mind the humour surrounding similar human/alien galactic policing pairings, such as in Fred Van Lente and Guiu Vilanova’s comic series Weird Detective, also from Dark Horse, and Jack Sholder’s criminally underrated film The Hidden (1987). The moments of black comedy between the two protagonists are needed to balance out the lashings of gore. This issue has a delightful drunken exchange between Buckle and Vinegar Teeth about the morality of eating people, which precedes a simply stunning final section that propels the action to a much larger cosmic stage. I honestly have no idea where the series is going, and I bloody love that.
Weird, wacky and wonderful, this is one not to be missed.
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The writer of this piece was: Rebecca Booth
Rebecca Tweets from @rebeccalbooth