Vandal Savage is the only one who can save his daughter -- but will he? - colten97
With Kass Sage at the mercy of the murderous Swan Killer, she must rely on her wits and the finicky morality of her father. DC Universe Presents #11 is the conclusion to James Robinson’s Vandal Savage arc, but there’s a lot more to be found than the resolution of Kass’ predicament.
Robinson spent the first two installments of his story carefully arranging his characters so that his script for issue #11 would transcend the action to touch upon deeper ideas. For one, the fact that Kass’ only ally is a serial killer creates an interesting dynamic for the reader, who is forced to root for a villainous character so that the virtuous protagonist might survive. Also, the complicated relationship between parents who are be plagued with character flaws like drug or alcohol addictions and their children is represented well here. How does one care for someone with such difficulty without sacrificing one’s own ideals? Where does one draw the line between the two? I didn’t particularly agree with Kass’ assertion that Vandal Savage was responsible for the Swan Killer murders, but that just illustrates the potential for this book to spark meaningful debate amongst its readers.
Aspiring artists would be smart to pay attention to the techniques employed here by artist Bernard Chang. His signature, powerful brush strokes may be the most salient characteristic of the book, but the details are where his storytelling comes to life. Flashbacks are left relatively two-dimensional, contrasting well with the vibrant colors and three-dimensionality conveyed by the lighting in the present to signal changes in temporal location and to express the immutability of the past. Chang also controls his slew of close-ups well here, using the tilt of characters’ heads and their placement in the frame to show dominance and internal emotion. My favorite panel of the book, however, has to be the post-battle perspective change that Chang uses to visually render the mess that is the Savage family status quo. Composition, coloring, setting and pacing are all executed extremely well.
This book is the payoff to the enjoyable Vandal Savage arc of DC Universe Presents, and it provides a satisfying capstone for the story. In retrospect, the 3-issue collaboration between Chang and Robinson effectively explores and expands Savage family lore, presenting the Vandal Savage from an interesting new perspective. The explanation for Swan Killer’s physical appearance was rather weak, and it looked as though Chang might have gotten slightly enthusiastic at times with the highlights that he used while coloring his characters. However, this issue is another strong episode in the Savage tale. Fans who have chosen to sit this arc out would do well to rectify their error.