Review: ‘Vine’ #s 1 & 2

Writer: Blake JK Chen
Artists: Coskun Kuzgun, Eleonora Kosartz

We recently took a look at the third issue of this book as part of #PoPCSR:

Having the first two issues of Vine in our hands now gives us a clearer look at this title, which somewhat stumbles out of the gate but then reveals some nicely layered storytelling.

The overall arc is a tale almost as old as time: a secret government Project goes awry (this one involving sentient plants and a bit who speaks like The Hulk) and those with a conscience strive to keep it out of the hands of those who would use it for malevolent purposes. What has been seen a thousand times soon becomes much more as Vine reveals itself as a much more layered story.

Vine_01The first issue establishes the overall premise in clear enough fashion, but the motivations of those involved are a tad muddled. We get a prologue with Carl, a scientist saying goodbye to his wife via telephone as he knows the military is coming for him. We then get to the main portion of the story, as two other soldiers, Anne and Joe, are part of a crew keeping Carl prisoner. As Anne interrogates the scientist, Joe inexplicably turns on his lifelong friend Anne and attempts to take Carl into his own custody. Anne escapes with a young boy also connected to the vines and the chase is on.

It is explained that Joe is acting on higher orders (from the main heavy, Mr. Muir), but the heel turn is rushed to the point that it seems that the friendship between he and Anne is rushed a little too fast for the sake of moving the narrative along. As a result, the characterization is sacrificed for the sake of the narrative, and some of the connection to the characters – and why the reader should care about the turn of events – is lost. The goal of any first issue should be to establish the story and a connection to the main players involved. Vine #1 approaches that goal, but eventually falls short by the time the last page is turned.

Vine_02While the first issue misses that mark, it’s in Vine #2 that Blake JK Chen mashes up for it and then some. Anne and Vine Boy (yes, that’s what he is referred to as) get to know each other as they sell sanctuary from pursuing forces. The two find a village where it is revealed that there is much more going on in regards to a nearby settlement that was destroyed. Anne and Vine Boy continue their journey to see that the spirits they were warned about by a girl in the previous village are all too real.

The second issue is where Chen shines on a couple areas. Not only are the characters much more established, but the story becomes much more than another government conspiracy yarn. The main arc is merit at the forgetting e, but Chen does a masterful job at introducing more facets and turning Vine into a more interesting story. The art by Coskun Kuzgun definitely props the story up with a detailed but distinct look.

Vine is a great example of why reading a book past just the first issue can be a benefit. Issue #1 – which scores 3 out of 5 Smiling Plants – can be daunting just on its own merits. However, it’s the second issue – which earns 4 out of 5 Giant Bugs – where Vine becomes much more and vines it’s voice with authority. Altogether, the first two issues of Vine (available here on ComiXology) rate 3.5 out of 5 Billy Goats.

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Michael Melchor has covered pop culture in all its forms for several publications and websites, including BackStage Pass magazine, 411Mania.com, and Examiner.com. He's been an avid comics reader since Barry Allen was first put on trial for the death of Professor Zoom. He's also been an avid wrestling fan since Dusty Rhodes beat Harley Race for the NWA World Championship. He now brings his fandom of comics, music, and wrestling to PanelsOnPages.com.

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