Review – Vinyl #1 (Image Comics)

Publisher: Image Comics
Writer: Doug Wagner
Artist: Daniel Hillyard
Colours: Dave Stewart
Letterer: Ed Dukeshire
Release Date: 23rd June 2021

Walter is a serial killer. Walter’s best friend Dennis is the FBI agent tasked with taking him down. When Dennis is kidnapped by the leader of an insane death cult as revenge for the his part in the incarceration of her son, Walter does what any friend would – he decides to use his very special set of skills to save the day, and possibly make some new friends along the way.

It has been four years (yes really, four years!), since Doug Wagner and Daniel Hillyard’s masterpiece Plastic hit the shelves. When I first read Plastic I was blown away by the sheer inventiveness, how dark the humour was, and just how incredibly endearing and likeable Edwyn was, especially for a clearly insane sociopath serial killer. By the end of this first issue of Vinyl, I am as irrevocably hooked on this series and our new protagonist Walter, as I ever was with Edwyn and Plastic.

Wagner and Hillyard are a pair of geniuses, in my humble opinion. While there are strong similarities between Walter and Edwyn, the former is already, for me, a much more intriguing character. He has the same naïve, almost endearing exterior persona that Edwyn has but, there is an ingenious mind behind that façade, that both the FBI and Madeline – the leader of the aforementioned cult – have vastly underestimated, possibly fatally so.

The pacing of the issue is perfect. There is so much menace generated amongst smiles, platitudes and good old fashioned courtesy that when we get flashes of visceral horror it’s genuinely shocking. There is also some wonderful pitch-black humour and some fantastic little moments that really make you feel really uneasy, like that sudden realisation that Walter was never going to fall into any trap set my Dennis or Agent Ruiz, and that he knows more about them than they’ll ever know about him. There’s almost something of Hannibal Lecter in the execution of everything Walter does, but I’m getting to the point where we’re entering definite spoiler territory and I wouldn’t want to spoil this first issue for you at all.

Hillyard’s artwork more than exceeds my expectations, bringing a similar style and feel to his work in Plastic. However, as much as I loved the artwork in Plastic, for me this artwork  is miraculously even better. I think that with most of the first issue happening during broad daylight, it makes the more shocking and outré aspects of the story much more visceral and unexpected. Having Dave Stewart on colours is the icing on the cake for me. He’s been one of my favourite colourists for over 25 years and he just never seems to put a foot wrong, no matter what project he’s working on.

This is a superb first issue, and it is a series that you do not want to miss. Thriller, psychological horror, slasher, pitch-black humour, and yet another insane but endearing and compelling serial killer that you will be rooting for from the first page to the last.

Rating: 4.5/5.


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