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Collective Consciousness VS #1

by stephengervais on February 07, 2018

Welcome to this week’s edition of Collective Consciousness, our weekly article where the staff takes one comic and puts it under the microscope. This allows us, and you, faithful reader, to get a good idea of how the comic fares against a variety of opinions. This week we're taking a look at the creator-owned Image debut of one of our favorite artists at CTG, Esad Ribic, and the beautiful looking VS #1. The visuals get an added bonus of being painted by Nic Klein.
 
Image solicit: “War has become a spectator sport. Privately funded armies of superstar soldiers march into battle for fame, profit, and the glory of their sponsor nations.
When a new generation of soldiers arrive, top gladiator Satta Flynn is about to discover how fleeting the limelight can be.”
 
Written by: Ivan Brandon
Art by: Esad Ribic
Publisher: Image Comics
 
Olivier
I came into this book completely blind. I had never heard of the title, know only a little bit about the creative team (with one big exception: Esad Ribic) and for the first few pages wasn't exactly sure what I was reading. Then we get to the meat of the issue: space gladiators fighting for what seems to be a TV show. Brandon never really goes into the details of what exactly is happening, leaving some mystery, but the gist of what I could gather is that there are two sides fighting in a war that is essentially sponsored and televised. The two sides act almost like sports teams and the players are the soldiers fighting for their lives. These soldiers have their fans and through the eyes of one, we get the impression that they truly love what they do. 
 
The plot is a little thin for a first issue, but it kinda grabs you. As mentioned, Brandon doesn't go into the details and this works in this instance: you can't help but want to read the next issue to see exactly what is going on. That, coupled with Ribic stunning artwork, which encompasses not only the small moments but also goes full-blown cinematic at times, make for great new book. 
 
 
Charles
Iván Brandon and Esad Ribić deliver a sci-fi gladiator story with oodles of style. I'm glad Mr. Brandon's letter at the end is upfront about this title's high concept; it would be unbearable if the creators were over-selling their story and getting smug about it. It's space gladiators with a swank cyberpunk edge, and it's splendid entertainment.
 
Lieutenant Satta Flynn is a famous soldier-athlete who's just gone through a serious wound and then an assault of futuristic medicine. We get to see his last moments in combat and his recovery, illustrated with all of Esad Ribić's considerable talents. While I would have loved a little more character development in this introduction, the setting/premise is the real star here. 
 
Mr. Brandon's weird blend of warfare and sport is fascinating. While there are plenty of mysteries ahead, so far the setting is internally consistent and highly polished: It feels like a real world. The ideas build on each other like pieces of an artificially-intelligent jigsaw puzzle, and by the end, readers should be (slightly) enlightened and hungry for more.
 
I have no idea if this title is intended to be a long-term ongoing, and somehow I don't think I want it to be. This is a great start, and if there's already a distinct conclusion in the creators' sights, the entire thing will be well worth reading.
 
 
Hussein

I'm a huge fan of Esad Ribic and I'm happy to report this series is incredibly interesting and absolutely gorgeous to look at. The premise isn't entirely explained in this first issue but writer Ivan Brandon drops a few hints here and there that flesh the world out a bit more.
 
From what it looks like, this tells the story of a virtual reality gladiator ring in the future. I probably don't have it exactly right, but the premise pulled me in and Ribic creates this absolutely gorgeous world. Ribic is one of my favourite all-time artists and seeing him do this nearly cyberpunk-style sci-fi brings such warm feelings to my heart. Multiple pages of just environments look incredible as Ribic is fond of doing background work more than he does character work. His character work here is also quite great. There are some humorous satire bits here which really came across due to the expression and character he was able to put into these people.
 
I have a feeling this issue is going to be slightly divisive so I recommend you check it out and see if it's your cup of tea. This will clearly be a slow burn, but I think you should jump on.
 
 
Stephen
This has been one of the most anticipated titles at CTG since its initial announcement. Anything featuring superstar artist Esad Ribic is a most pick-up. As usual, he does not disappoint and turns in a beautiful issue with the help of Nic Klein’s painted colours. The way I describe Ribic’s art to anyone who will listen is cinematic. He has a way about his work that makes it feel like I am watching a huge blockbuster on the silver screen.
 
The story is quite interesting but I did have some troubles figuring out exactly what was going on. In fact I did not fully understand it until I read the solicit for the issue after my initial read. After taking in the solicit, I re-read the issue and it all came together although I do have some questions but those are sure to be answered as the series continues. I initially didn’t realize it was an actual war being televised and viewed. I thought it was strictly a future version of televised gaming. I do think a quick little opening introduction to the world would have benefited the reader. That being said I still think Brandon wrote a very entertaining opening issue and I’m onboard for the ride.
 
***

Well there you have folks another New Comic Book Day group review at CTG! As you read this issue is definitely come for the art and get hooked into what seems to be a unique sci-fi, action-filled thriller sure to entertain most comic book fans.
 

Our Score:

8/10

A Look Inside