Publisher: Image Comics
Writer: Doug Wagner
Artist: Daniel Hillyard
Colours: Dave Stewart
Letterer: Ed Dukeshire
Release Date: 24th November 2021
He’s got rhythm, he’s got music, he’s got his man, who could ask for anything more…?
Walter’s war is coming to an end, and while it has come at great personal cost, he’s still upbeat. Dennis is safe and Walter just has to take care of Madeline so that they can make their escape from the compound. What could possibly go wrong?
This has been one of my favourite series of the year, and I’m more than a little sad to see it coming to an end. That being said, discovering that Vinyl is part of a wider universe that includes PLASTIC and the forthcoming NARCO elicited a little cheer. When Plastic came out, I was blown away with how inventive, and how different it was from anything else I was reading at the time, and I really didn’t think that it was possible for Doug Wagner to better it, but honestly Vinyl is at least as good, if not better, and I can’t wait to see what they do with this serial killer universe in the future.
So, if my previous reviews of this series haven’t inspired you to jump all over Vinyl, what else can I say to you to get you reading this? Well honestly, I’m not sure. Every single thing about this series has been pitch perfect for me. From the wonderfully weird and warped writing of Doug Wagner, through Daniel Hillyard’s disturbing but highly entertaining artwork, backed up by by the world class colouring talents of Dave Stewart and finished off with some fantastic lettering by Ed Dukeshire, there is nothing to fault from the first page to the last across all six issues.
There is something undeniably charming and endearing about Walter. I mean sure, he’s a brutal serial killer with an incalculable number of victims to his name, but there is an innocence about him and his need to find a friend that is almost childlike, to the point where you feel genuine empathy and sympathy for him as he comes to terms with losing his entire world (as grisly and macabre as that world is.) The camaraderie and concern for his fellow serial killers is quite touching, as is his celebration of their demise. It’s really, really hard not to like Walter, and I have to say that I also found myself really liking Edwyn when I read Plastic. I’m not sure if that should worry me or not.
Walter is also terrifyingly single minded when he needs to be. I’ve mentioned in previous reviews how intelligent he comes across as being, and how he’s not just two moves ahead but seems to have already worked out the moves for the next three games before you’ve even got your first pawn out. In this issue he displays all the same charm and brains, only this timethey’re married to the unstoppable force of a Michael Myers or a Jason Voorhees as he works his way slowly and methodically through Madeleine’s remaining soldiers.
As with my previous reviews, I don’t think Daniel Hillyard’s artwork is appreciated enough. I’m not actually sure that I can think of another artist that could do a better job of this series and there are some pretty damned good artists in my top 5. Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to see Alex Cormack or Ryan Lee providing a pinup or a short story in a special, but I think in this instance, it would just lose its heart if someone else illustrated it. I think that’s the crux of why I love this series. Yes, it ticks all my boxes in terms of horror, carnage and tension, but what keeps me coming back is the heart that comes through in every page which is as much to do with Hillyard’s art as with Wagner’s narrative.
As I mentioned earlier, we now have an entire Plastic-verse unfolding, so we could be seeing a lot more superb series down the line, but I genuinely hope that we also see the return of Walter at some point in the not too distant future, as it almost felt like losing a friend turning the last page.
[PREVIEW ARTWORK – CLICK TO ENLARGE]
The writer of this piece was: Mark Scott
Mark Tweets from @macoy_comicgeek