Nick Dragotta

Vengeance 6 (February 2012)

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Casey ends Vengeance congratulating himself for a job well done. It must be nice to be so unaware of the quality of one’s work. This final issue is a disaster–except Dragotta’s art–and the editor doesn’t help things. The issue opens with a letter from the editor explaining the history of the series….

Marvel had a series of covers, but no comic to go with them. Casey came up with a story to tie them all together. It’s actually shocking he managed five decent issues, given that origin.

Here, Vengeance completely falls apart. The Teen Brigade are supposed to be sixteen, which is laughable the way Carey writes them, and he has the SHIELD agent narrate the whole issue.

It’s one bad choice after another.

Dragotta’s got some great battle scenes, but even he can’t overcome the script’s frequent stupidities.

The issue’s bad, but can’t quite ruin the series.

Vengeance 5 (January 2012)

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Oh, Joe Casey, so cute when you try to be smart… but so lacking in even the ability to Google.

This issue reveals the big secret behind the Red Skull’s presence. It turns out–and this discovery shocks the leader of the Teen Brigade–the U.S. Government covered up Skull killing a bunch of Soviet super-soldiers. So not only is the leader of the Teen Brigade a flake, he’s not particularly well-versed in political realities.

The report he reads talks about the Geneva Convention, which, in traditional parlance, refers to the articles adopted in 1949. Well after the period Casey’s writing about. Marvel’s not big on fact-checking, apparently.

Anyway, the issue’s decent, even if Miss America is starting to get annoying (we gto it, she’s Hispanic). Great, crazy action from Dragotta.

But no way Casey wraps this up satisfactorily… He’s got too many balls in the air.

Vengeance 4 (December 2011)

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Huh. For the first time, Vengeance didn’t overtly impress me. There are some good scenes–like a WWII flashback to the Red Skull patting himself on the back for saving the world–and Casey writes Kid Loki well, but there’s definitely something missing.

Maybe it’s the confusion. The only confusing scene this issue involves the Defenders (or whatever Nighthawk’s team is called) apparently condoning the former Deathlok’s sale of SHIELD secrets. But maybe not. The scene’s pointlessly obtuse; hopefully Casey’s got a good pay-off for the subplot. As of now, however, it seems like it will be lackluster.

Also lackluster is the forbidden romance between the Teen Brigade’s leader and the only bad girl. It’s a complete misfire, including the reveal on her face. After four pages of being obviously secretive about it, Casey reveals it immediately with no dramatic purpose.

Great Dragotta art, particularly the fight scenes, helps.

Vengeance 3 (November 2011)

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Casey and Dragotta spend approximately half this issue on a psychedelic trip. It’s not even through the Marvel Universe; they just have the Teen Brigade tripping while discovering the In-Betweener’s place in the universe. Sort of.

Casey goes so far as to hide their discoveries and decision-making to surprise the reader at the end. Except, of course, it makes absolutely no sense so it’s not much of a surprise. Most of Vengeance plays out crazy and then, a few pages (or an issue) later, Casey explains it.

Here, the Teen Brigade saves Doctor Octopus from the teen villains. It gives the issue a great big fight scene, which Dragotta relishes. It also gives Casey the opportunity to write some amusing banter for Doc Ock, even though he now looks more like the brain from “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.”

Vengeance‘s a wondrously confusing mess of pseudo-anti-mainstream goodness.

Vengeance 2 (October 2011)

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This issue’s recap explains all the previous one’s ending questions, which is nice. Even nicer is Casey doesn’t repeat the awkwardly uninformative ending this issue. Instead, he’s gotten Vengeance to a point where he can tease coming events and the reader is anticipating he and Dragotta’s take on them.

Casey’s exaggerated in his realism, dropping in catch phrases like “in the cloud.” They do their job, making Vengeance feel grown-up even though it’s about a bunch of kids (the scariest part in the issue is the bad kids excitedly planning to murder people). It’s a nice disconnect with Dragotta’s sixties-style artwork. I think there’s even an homage to Ditko JJJ here.

And Casey continues to earn his T+ rating–Lady Bullseye has a necrophiliac crush on regular Bullseye. Not to mention slimy dead bodies. Or the disposable cast members.

Vengeance is an engaging trip through the Marvel Universe.

Vengeance 1 (September 2011)

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Once I figured out I wasn’t supposed to understand Vengeance, the issue went down a lot smoother.

The comic starts off with weird happenings in the Marvel Universe. There’s a Red Skull flashback (in Nazi Germany), there’s a new teenage superhero finding some guy locked in a missile silo. Joe Casey’s able to embrace the Marvel Universe and its continuity and come up with an interesting side plot. Vengeance isn’t going to be big news or a crossover event, it’s just a limited series. I didn’t even realize Marvel still published this type of book.

Pretty soon Casey’s earning the mature audiences rating (Magneto breaks up a threesome). Even after Magneto’s long appearance, it’s unclear what’s going on. In the last few pages, things start coming together.

Then Casey reveals a bunch of other confusing threads.

The Nick Dragotta art gives it a traditional Marvel feel.

It’s a compelling read.

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