Less Heralded Vertigo
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I am a huge Vertigo fan. As a collector of comic runs, I have read and own most of the greatest hits (as well as a several slightly off radar - Shade and Exterminators anyone?). But there are a few Vertigo ongoings I know very little about. My question to the community is, which (IYO) of the below would you consider a must/own/can’t miss for the Vertigo collector and why? Given that it’s Vertigo, I place a premium on story.

1. DMZ and/or Northlanders. I have a weird relationship with Brian Wood’s stuff. He always picks subjects that grab my attention. I try out the series and, for whatever reason, it fails to grab me. I actually read the first few issues of DMZ years ago but, for reasons I’ve long forgotten, dropped the series. 

2. Books of Magic. Loved the mini. Never read the ongoing. Don’t know anything about the writers.

3. Unknown Soldier. Young me thought this was the comic equivalent of an Oscar grab. Older me thinks younger me was, on occasion, a pretentious $&:@.

4. Loveless. Love Azzarello (100 Bullets and the admittedly not for everyone New 52 Wonder Woman are some of my favorites). But missed this series and don’t know a thing about it.

5. House of Mystery. Another one I dropped a few issues in after it came out for reasons I have likewise forgotten.

6. Jack of Fables. Really liked Fables. Heard mixed things about this spinoff.

7. iZombie. Love Mike Allred (especially Madman and his art on X-Statix). Generally not a huge zombie fan.

8. And then a whole bunch I know absolutely nothing about except the title: Madame Xanadu, War Stories, Kid Eternity, The Losers, The Dreaming, House of Secrets, Human Target, Testament, Young Liars.

Many thanks!

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I love Brian Wood.  DMZ was great, but I can see people not liking it.  There are points where it feels slow, but it always picked back up.   Northlanders also was great. 

I really didn't care for Loveless.  I wanted to so I hung with it a bit.  I ended up getting rid of them. 

I've heard people enjoyed House of Mystery.  It was a yawnfest for me and I dropped after 5 issues. 

Fables is legendary.  Jack of Fables is the comedic version.  It's more in the vein of Quinn/Deadpool.   Hung with that book a long time, but eventually got rid of it too.   When the Fables/Jack of Fables crossover happened, I lost all interest. 

I always wanted to try Unknown Soldier and IZombie.  But I never did.   Curious what someone else thought. 

Losers had crazy cool artwork which sucked me in.  It was pretty cool.  

Testament was another book I wanted to like.  In the end, I didn't care for it.

Patrick

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I was (am) also a Vertigo junky…

Sandman and Hellblazer were the gateway books for me, but I really enjoyed Books of Magic (it was Harry Potter before there was Harry Potter), Unknown Soldier, and Losers from your list.

I also remember DMZ being good, but also never finished it.

I would highly recommend Y the Last Man, Sweet Tooth, Sheriff of Babylon, Scalped, and the Unwritten.

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On 9/28/2021 at 11:00 PM, followtheleader said:

I love Brian Wood.  DMZ was great, but I can see people not liking it.  There are points where it feels slow, but it always picked back up.   Northlanders also was great. 

I really didn't care for Loveless.  I wanted to so I hung with it a bit.  I ended up getting rid of them. 

I've heard people enjoyed House of Mystery.  It was a yawnfest for me and I dropped after 5 issues. 

Fables is legendary.  Jack of Fables is the comedic version.  It's more in the vein of Quinn/Deadpool.   Hung with that book a long time, but eventually got rid of it too.   When the Fables/Jack of Fables crossover happened, I lost all interest. 

I always wanted to try Unknown Soldier and IZombie.  But I never did.   Curious what someone else thought. 

Losers had crazy cool artwork which sucked me in.  It was pretty cool.  

Testament was another book I wanted to like.  In the end, I didn't care for it.

Patrick

Thanks so much for the response. If you had to pick one of Northlanders or DMZ, which would you choose and, if you feel so inclined, why?

Also, why was Loveless a miss form you?

Thanks again!

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On 9/29/2021 at 7:16 AM, Brock said:

I was (am) also a Vertigo junky…

Sandman and Hellblazer were the gateway books for me, but I really enjoyed Books of Magic (it was Harry Potter before there was Harry Potter), Unknown Soldier, and Losers from your list.

I also remember DMZ being good, but also never finished it.

I would highly recommend Y the Last Man, Sweet Tooth, Sheriff of Babylon, Scalped, and the Unwritten.

Sandman was great. It’s probably my second favorite Vertigo run after Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing (I know the floppies weren’t published under Vertigo but I count it and Morrison’s Doom Patrol and Animal man as Vertigo). Love Hellblazer but I haven’t quite finished it. Working my way through Denise Mina’s run right now. Love all the titles you listed at the end. Unwritten IMO doesn’t get nearly the love it deserves.

I’ve heard a couple of endorsements for the Losers. What grabbed you about it (if you feel so inclined to share)?

Thanks much for your response!

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On 9/29/2021 at 10:54 AM, ConcreteMob181 said:

I’ve heard a couple of endorsements for the Losers. What grabbed you about it (if you feel so inclined to share)?

It's been quite awhile, but my recollection is that it was less military action, and more about heists and thrills, which is more up my alley.

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Vertigo has an awful lot of great series, and quite a few that... didn't quite hit the mark, but don't deserve to be quite as forgotten as they sometimes are. Some of these aren't on your list, just sort of going through things I remember.

  • The Books of Magic limited is the best Tim Hunter stuff, of course, and not just because I'm a shameless Neil Gaiman fanboy. I read much of the 1994 series, although clearly not the whole thing, since I don't think I knew it ran to #75! The early books have Charles Vess covers, and that's always good, too, because the world can often use more Charles Vess. Age of Magic isn't bad. Books of Faerie was pretty readable, too, but I couldn't get into Life During Wartime and never picked up the 2018-2020 run.
  • Speaking of Gaiman minis that got turned into a longer run, I liked Black Orchid, although between the overall themes and Rebecca Guay's art style, it's probably not for everyone.
  • I enjoyed Crossing Midnight, although I'll be the first to admit there are some pacing problems.
  • I, too, read the first 4ish issues of DMZ and then didn't go back. I think Brian Wood is an excellent writer for the medium, but he writes stories that just don't have much thematic appeal for me personally. Which means I never picked up Northlanders at all, although I suspect that if there's any Wood title for me, it'd be that one.
  • I liked the early Fables stuff when it set a firmly dark-fantasy tone. They didn't hold the series to that, though, and I understand that Jack of Fables discards it entirely. Never read Jack or the other spinoffs like Fairest, so no opinions.
  • I really wanted to like FBP (originally, briefly, Collider), but I did not. I found the art sloppy and the POV character tiresome. Ran 24 issues, so someone liked it, I guess.
  • On the other hand, I'm a fan of Unwritten. Vertigo does a lot of these weird meta-fictional explorations (heck, a lot of Sandman is that way), and I think this one works better than, say, House of Mystery or Testament.
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On 9/29/2021 at 5:58 PM, Qalyar said:

Vertigo has an awful lot of great series, and quite a few that... didn't quite hit the mark, but don't deserve to be quite as forgotten as they sometimes are. Some of these aren't on your list, just sort of going through things I remember.

  • The Books of Magic limited is the best Tim Hunter stuff, of course, and not just because I'm a shameless Neil Gaiman fanboy. I read much of the 1994 series, although clearly not the whole thing, since I don't think I knew it ran to #75! The early books have Charles Vess covers, and that's always good, too, because the world can often use more Charles Vess. Age of Magic isn't bad. Books of Faerie was pretty readable, too, but I couldn't get into Life During Wartime and never picked up the 2018-2020 run.
  • Speaking of Gaiman minis that got turned into a longer run, I liked Black Orchid, although between the overall themes and Rebecca Guay's art style, it's probably not for everyone.
  • I enjoyed Crossing Midnight, although I'll be the first to admit there are some pacing problems.
  • I, too, read the first 4ish issues of DMZ and then didn't go back. I think Brian Wood is an excellent writer for the medium, but he writes stories that just don't have much thematic appeal for me personally. Which means I never picked up Northlanders at all, although I suspect that if there's any Wood title for me, it'd be that one.
  • I liked the early Fables stuff when it set a firmly dark-fantasy tone. They didn't hold the series to that, though, and I understand that Jack of Fables discards it entirely. Never read Jack or the other spinoffs like Fairest, so no opinions.
  • I really wanted to like FBP (originally, briefly, Collider), but I did not. I found the art sloppy and the POV character tiresome. Ran 24 issues, so someone liked it, I guess.
  • On the other hand, I'm a fan of Unwritten. Vertigo does a lot of these weird meta-fictional explorations (heck, a lot of Sandman is that way), and I think this one works better than, say, House of Mystery or Testament.

Thanks for this! Really great rundown!

I read a bunch of Crossing Midnight. I remember initially liking it but then losing interest, in part because of the pacing. Later on, I felt like it was a bit of a dry run for some parts of Unwritten - which was great. #24 is probably one of the best standalone issues I’ve ever read.

I’ve heard Black Orchid mentioned a few times but don’t know anything about it. The art I’ve seen is certainly interesting. May have to circle back on that one.

FBP was a miss for me. I didn’t make it past the first couple of issues. Liked Unfollow and Clean Room though which came out around the same time.

Thanks again!

 

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On 9/29/2021 at 10:13 PM, ConcreteMob181 said:

I’ve heard Black Orchid mentioned a few times but don’t know anything about it. The art I’ve seen is certainly interesting. May have to circle back on that one.

Regarding the art for Black Orchid. The original 3 issue mini (written by Gaiman) had Dave McKean contribute some of the best interior art in comics. They're worth picking up (that, or the TPB) for McKean's art alone even if the story doesn't do it for you.

The later series started with art by Jill Thompson. No offense to Ms. Thompson, but her work was not a good style for the book. She was quickly replaced with Rebecca Guay, who has a unique style you will either like or very much not.

As for what it's about, um. The series in general is about science and nature and myth, about human trauma and abuse, and maybe something about what it means to be good (or, for that matter, to be human). It's... a very "early Vertigo" book, is what I'm getting at. 

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On 9/28/2021 at 7:42 PM, ConcreteMob181 said:

House of Secrets, Human Target,

House of Secrets was fun and I loved Teddy Kristiansens art until he screwed me on a commission, a 10 year saga! But the book was good and weird for a while there.

Human Target was another I bought for the art, Edvin Biukovic, a Craotian artist who I first saw on grendel tales. Fun and groovy but not world shaking, good comics.

War Stories is fine for what it is, good Ennis stories and solid art (David Lloyd but not sure if he did them all)

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On 10/1/2021 at 8:54 AM, peted76 said:

I enjoyed Dead Enders by Ed Brubaker only lasted 16 issues.. then I thought about what else I've enjoyed from Vertigo.. there's so much.. I was a big vertigo buyer/fan 90's/00's.. 

It really was a phenomenal imprint. Not for everyone I suppose but they had far more hits than misses IMO. I forgot about Deadenders. That may be one I need to pick up. Thanks!

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On 10/1/2021 at 10:16 AM, ConcreteMob181 said:

It really was a phenomenal imprint. Not for everyone I suppose but they had far more hits than misses IMO. I forgot about Deadenders. That may be one I need to pick up. Thanks!

There are certainly some misses. But most of those were either limited series from the start (Ghostdancing) or thankfully clipped short (The Minx), so the long-runners are usually pretty good. Sure, there's stuff like American Virgin that you're probably better off avoiding, but the overall quality of Vertigo was pretty high. Especially at a time when the overall overall quality was sometimes... not.

That doesn't count the 2018 Vertigo "relaunch" titles, of course. That didn't go very well.

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On 9/29/2021 at 8:49 AM, ConcreteMob181 said:

Thanks so much for the response. If you had to pick one of Northlanders or DMZ, which would you choose and, if you feel so inclined, why?

Also, why was Loveless a miss form you?

Thanks again!

That is a tough question.  They are so very different.  If I didn't know, I'd think they are by two different writers. 

I honestly think people would enjoy Northlanders more than DMZ.   If people have read Black Road by Wood, then they have read something that felt like an arc of Northlanders.

I equally liked them, but it might be DMZ if I had to choose.

DMZ wasn't many people's favorite.  It's a slow slog at times.  I just felt like he really built the characters over a long period of time the pace hit a stride in the 40s.

I expected a lot out of Loveless before the series started.  It also happened nearly at the same time as the newer Jonah Hex series.  It felt like it was one too many cowboy stories and I preferred Hex over that series.  

Patrick

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On 9/29/2021 at 3:58 PM, Qalyar said:

Vertigo has an awful lot of great series, and quite a few that... didn't quite hit the mark, but don't deserve to be quite as forgotten as they sometimes are. Some of these aren't on your list, just sort of going through things I remember.

  • The Books of Magic limited is the best Tim Hunter stuff, of course, and not just because I'm a shameless Neil Gaiman fanboy. I read much of the 1994 series, although clearly not the whole thing, since I don't think I knew it ran to #75! The early books have Charles Vess covers, and that's always good, too, because the world can often use more Charles Vess. Age of Magic isn't bad. Books of Faerie was pretty readable, too, but I couldn't get into Life During Wartime and never picked up the 2018-2020 run.
  • Speaking of Gaiman minis that got turned into a longer run, I liked Black Orchid, although between the overall themes and Rebecca Guay's art style, it's probably not for everyone.
  • I enjoyed Crossing Midnight, although I'll be the first to admit there are some pacing problems.
  • I, too, read the first 4ish issues of DMZ and then didn't go back. I think Brian Wood is an excellent writer for the medium, but he writes stories that just don't have much thematic appeal for me personally. Which means I never picked up Northlanders at all, although I suspect that if there's any Wood title for me, it'd be that one.
  • I liked the early Fables stuff when it set a firmly dark-fantasy tone. They didn't hold the series to that, though, and I understand that Jack of Fables discards it entirely. Never read Jack or the other spinoffs like Fairest, so no opinions.
  • I really wanted to like FBP (originally, briefly, Collider), but I did not. I found the art sloppy and the POV character tiresome. Ran 24 issues, so someone liked it, I guess.
  • On the other hand, I'm a fan of Unwritten. Vertigo does a lot of these weird meta-fictional explorations (heck, a lot of Sandman is that way), and I think this one works better than, say, House of Mystery or Testament.

I forgot about FBP.

The title change so early was a massive killer.   

I wanted this to be great.  Like someone else said, it just flat wasn't.  

Patrick 

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On 9/29/2021 at 9:13 PM, ConcreteMob181 said:

Thanks for this! Really great rundown!

I read a bunch of Crossing Midnight. I remember initially liking it but then losing interest, in part because of the pacing. Later on, I felt like it was a bit of a dry run for some parts of Unwritten - which was great. #24 is probably one of the best standalone issues I’ve ever read.

I’ve heard Black Orchid mentioned a few times but don’t know anything about it. The art I’ve seen is certainly interesting. May have to circle back on that one.

FBP was a miss for me. I didn’t make it past the first couple of issues. Liked Unfollow and Clean Room though which came out around the same time.

Thanks again!

 

Agreed, Unwritten was great.  It's one of the few that I stopped mid-title.  Not that I didn't like it. This may make me re-visit what I missed. 

I'd say it was the dark Harry Potter, but HP is dark in and of itself.  

Black Orchid was fun.  I didn't read it until far after it was released.  It is not Sandman or Miracleman, but was very cool and unique. If you don't go into it wanting the well-known Gaiman stories, then it will be that much more enjoyable. 

Patrick

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I can't remember if Neverwhere was a Vertigo imprint or not.  For clarity, I'm referring to the 2005 9-part series.

Nevertheless, it had that feel. 

What did people think about it? 

As much as I love Gaiman's work, I disliked it.  Granted, it wasn't written by him (I believe it was Carey). 

I hung with it as it was printed, hoped for the big payoff, and was disappointed. 

On the other side of the coin, Proposition Player and WE3 were so much fun.

Both are very short (5 issues and 3 issues respectively) and left me wanting more.

Patrick

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On 10/1/2021 at 10:42 PM, followtheleader said:

I can't remember if Neverwhere was a Vertigo imprint or not.  For clarity, I'm referring to the 2005 9-part series.

Nevertheless, it had that feel. 

What did people think about it? 

As much as I love Gaiman's work, I disliked it.  Granted, it wasn't written by him (I believe it was Carey). 

I hung with it as it was printed, hoped for the big payoff, and was disappointed. 

On the other side of the coin, Proposition Player and WE3 were so much fun.

Both are very short (5 issues and 3 issues respectively) and left me wanting more.

Patrick

Yeah, the Neverwhere adaptation was Vertigo. Neverwhere, the book, is fantastic, but the comic adaptation just missed something. I guess I'd describe Carey's scripting as workmanlike; it's wholly competent, but lacks for a real flair or voice. I didn't think Fabry's art did it any favors, either. All in all, disappointing.

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On 10/1/2021 at 11:15 PM, followtheleader said:

That is a tough question.  They are so very different.  If I didn't know, I'd think they are by two different writers. 

I honestly think people would enjoy Northlanders more than DMZ.   If people have read Black Road by Wood, then they have read something that felt like an arc of Northlanders.

I equally liked them, but it might be DMZ if I had to choose.

DMZ wasn't many people's favorite.  It's a slow slog at times.  I just felt like he really built the characters over a long period of time the pace hit a stride in the 40s.

I expected a lot out of Loveless before the series started.  It also happened nearly at the same time as the newer Jonah Hex series.  It felt like it was one too many cowboy stories and I preferred Hex over that series.  

Patrick

Makes sense. Thanks for the run down and the endorsement of DMZ and Northlanders. I may need to give them both a try.

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WE3 was a great little three issue arc, defo worth picking up. 

It probably doesn't count as 'less heralded', more akin to getting lost in the history books, but 'Transmetropolitan' was a 60 issue series and is a must read. I'm pretty sure you could pick it up for pennies in tbp or single issues. 

 

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