Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Old 52: Vext

If you haven't read it, it's new to you. Every month I try to supplement the New 52 with a series from the Old 52. Series I've never read, but have always meant to.When it was new: Vext was a monthly series published by DC starting in 1999 by Keith Giffen, Mike McKone and Mark McKenna. It lasted only 6 issues.

Premise: Vext is the former God of Mishap and Misfortune, exiled to Earth for lack of worship. Hilarity (briefly) ensues.

A run of bad luck: Due to poor planning on my part, the first series I've talked is a very short one. Indeed, it could have been a mini-series. It's too bad it wasn't, because it ends entirely too abruptly, with recently introduced subplots left dangling. For example, three of the cast are villains Vext never even gets to meet, despite a 6-issue build-up of meanwhiles and elsewheres. The A-plots, however, are stand-alone tales that can still be enjoyed regardless.

Vext is, for all intents and purposes, a send-up of "superhero gods" like Thor, Hercules and the New Gods. The twist is that Vext doesn't become a superhero. He's just a regular and very unlucky guy trying to figure how mortals live. He's more a victim than a lord of his particular domain, and there's good comedy to be had from his hardships (I very much empathize with his bureaucracy problems, for example). The last couple of issues are the weakest, the bits about the God of Flatulence low-browing the proceedings to a place where, had I been reading at the time, I might have welcomed premature cancellation. Though I suspect DC didn't market it very well, I'm not sure how much longer Vext could have remained interesting unless the character had taken a more active role in the stories. It reads today like an amalgam of other Giffen series. It has the trademark banter of his Justice League, takes place in Delta City just like Heckler (another quickly canceled Giffen book), and makes use of varied narrative pieces (cut-out coupons, computer data, dictionary definitions, and changes in genre) not unlike his Legion or Doom Patrol.

In the final analysis, this is a series that had an intriguing premise and some promising subplots, so it was canceled before it's time. It's really too bad because it could be genuinely funny, and the God Police was about to slap Vext down hard (and his ex, Paramour, the Goddess of Bad Relationships was about to make contact with the villain of the piece, rogue archaeologist Aaron Caldwell). There might even have been the possibility of the Heckler putting in an appearance, who knows? I guess bad luck was written right into the concept. Not much Giffen could have done about it.

Trade in for one of the New52? Maybe if it wasn't so abortive.

7 comments:

googum said...

I pulled it from the quarter bin, but I really enjoyed Vext. I want to re-read it and Ty Templeton's Bigg Time together; they both share the theme of higher powers being incompetent...

Unknown said...

Superman trying to explain that sometimes you have to jiggle the handle on the toilet to make the water stop running is one of the most hysterical things I've ever read.

Siskoid said...

Cue Vext wiggling it in the air.

SallyP said...

I have this! And I enjoyed the crap out of it.

d said...

I've never heard of this book but I always enjoy all things Giffen. Have to start checking the quarter bins.

Martin Gray said...

Hmm, maybe Giffen will have him show up in OMAC or Superman. Otherwise, let's swap out Firestorm or Mr Terrific.

Siskoid said...

Hungry for swapping? You'll get your chance once a month.