Vault Comics are a very new kid on the block, having been formed in 2016 by brothers Adrian and Damian Wassel with the aim of producing sci-fi and fantasy comics and this April comes a new release from writer Dan Watters (newly announced writer of DC Comics’ Lucifer) and artist Val Rodrigues, Deep Roots; a book that mixes both sci-fi and fantasy to give us a comic that is a mix of the macabre, the mysterious, and the mirthful too. A tough balancing act to pull off when you’ve also got to introduce characters, some of whom don’t even make it to the end of the first issue!
With greenhouse gases and industrial levels of pollution having played irreversible havoc with our ecosystem, the planet Earth seems to have had enough and the greenery is revolting. And not in the way they do when decomposing, but revolting by fighting back, guns and all! But, how these sentient seedlings and green gargantuans manifests themselves upon London can be in a weird, and not necessarily orderly fashion. Andrew Marvell may very well have written about ‘vegetable love’ but these veggies ain’t showing us any. But then, why would they after what we’ve done to this mudball of ours?
Meanwhile, with shades of The Arthurian legend coming to bare on this book, a long-sleeping protector has once more been awoken from his slumber to protect the land, now under threat. Whether that means he’s here to help us, or attack us remains to be seen, and it’s not the only mystery in this book of many. All I know is that he’s one mean looking warrior who seems to have been hewn from the ancient wood of a primeval otherworldly forest. Part man, part myth, part oak tree. In his realisation that he is speaking out loud, we have the perfect summation of Watters’ writing.
Taking on the large, the magnificent and the mythical, while prodding it gently with a tickle stick that pricks it’s grandeur and makes the unrelatable relatable. Pomposity is pricked and the reader can be reassured this may be a book dealing with globally high stakes, but there’s still room for a laugh. It also prevents it form being the kind of book that preaches to its audience either. The backdrop may well be one of global warming and pollution but this is very much a story of myths and mysteries first and foremost with an antagonist of global proportions.
Watters covers a great deal of ground in this first issue as we meet shady government agents and brussel sprout bank robbers being just a couple of perils in the mix. Oh, and the odd touch of horror too as the book progresses! After all that, there isn’t mush room for much else.
Rodrigues is a great find, reminding me at times of a younger Bill Willingham (from his Elements drawing days) and the touches he adds of Van Gogh to paint in the starry night sky and shimmery landscapes of the Otherworld gives this strange place a healthy glow of the unearthly about it all. Triona Farrell’s warm colours only compliment Rodrigues’s envisioning of Watters’ script. From this first issue alone I would imagine their all fun guys to hang out with.
And so, all in all, we have a book that is informed by myths and legends of the past, while firmly planting itself in the present and reflecting upon our own continual insensitive treatment of the Earth we call home.
FOC is this Friday, March 9th. So, comic shop retailers, you have been warned.
Deep Roots #1 is out April 25th from Vault Comics.