In Review: Vanguard Book One

Vanguard Book One - Cover

Vanguard is created, written and illustrated by Dan Butcher
Book one cover pencils/inks by Chris Imber, Colours by Dan Butcher
Follow the strip online on VanguardComic.com

The Book: 

Vanguard: In the near future, a small team of genetically engineered metahumans defend our country’s interests at home and abroad.

They are the Vanguard.

Set predominately in the UK, Vanguard is the story of a team of genetically enhanced metahumans employed by the British government to protect the nation’s interests, at home and abroad. It is set in the not too distant future, where the world is becoming more politically and economically unstable. There are food riots, water and power shortages and a rising crime rate as day to day living becomes more of a struggle.

What starts as a simple rescue mission reveals a new, terrifying threat an unseen enemy, with a vast array of terrible weapons and access to seemingly unlimited resources. Can our heroes uncover who they are and stop their diabolical machinations before the world is plunged into chaos?

The original cover to Vanguard #1

The original cover to Vanguard #1

The Review: This is a new  collected edition of the webcomic Vanguard (Issues 1 – 5) created by Dan Butcher, which will be launched at London Super Comic Con later this month.

A dark superhero tale awash with conspiracies involving clandestine government operations and devious multi-nationals, all with their own superhero teams, what’s intriguing about Vanguard‘s premise isn’t just the characters and their problems, but how Dan is thinking through the consequences of a world where super-powered humans hold the balance of power – and how that affects the ordinary population. While this isn’t treading new territory given the previous work of the likes of Alan Moore, Rob Williams, James Robinson et al, Dan’s doing a darn fine job with his own take on the perils that might result.

A page from the first issue of Vanguard introducing some of the team. Looking back on the early pages, Dan is happy to describe them as a "time capsule" capturing the development of his assured art on this project.

A page from the first issue of Vanguard introducing some of the team. Looking back on the early pages, Dan is happy to describe them as a “time capsule” capturing the development of his assured art on this project.

Deftly jumping from storyline to storyline, the art on the series getting stronger and more assured as it develops, Vanguard delivers a fast-paced superhero action tale, with some enjoyable moments of black humour and some jaw-dropping visuals.

A stunning all-out action page from Vanguard #2 that really shows off Dan's storytelling skills at their best.

A stunning all-out action page from Vanguard #2 that really shows off Dan’s storytelling skills at their best.

That’s not to say it’s without its faults, but Dan is candid about the fact that his writing and art progress as the series does. “It serves as a nice little time capsule for me too look at back on”, he tells me.

Taking that into account, I’ll forgive some of the obvious concerns: on these early stories, the strip itself doesn’t always introduce new characters clearly, or a hero’s powers. There’s a sense that some things that seem to be getting thrown into the mix on the go, adding to the the overall story arc. Some scenes are heavily dialogued, particularly pages where the British Broadcasting Network’s news broadcasts are used to offer updates on the world’s fate.

The cover to Vanguard #3, introducing the US superhero squad. Without saying too much, it's not the best of encounters...

The cover to Vanguard #3, introducing the US superhero squad. Without saying too much, it’s not the best of encounters…

None of this should put you off taking a look at Vanguard – online or by picking up a copy of this meaty, nicely packaged collection, which includes background profiles (including powers, remedying one of my concerns above) of several team Vanguard characters. The strip has earned deserved praise for its storytelling and it’s fascinating to see how quickly creator Dan Butcher immersed himself in developing his craft on this book.

It’s clear he’s spared no effort creating Vanguard and it’s certainly a text book example of how to do web comics right and gain an audience through dedicated and unstinting promotion alongside actually creating the book.

If you’re heading to London Super Comic Con you should definitely check out Vanguard. It’s a cracking read.

Vanguard creator Dan Butcher

Vanguard creator Dan Butcher

About the Author

Dan Butcher started, as a lot of comic artists do, by drawing/creating characters and comic strips at an early age. Studying art through school, he ended up earning a degree in Illustration and Design.

After a short career as an animator (realised drawing the same image over 200+ times wasn’t for him), he defected to the ‘Dark Side’ and began working as a graphic designer, which he now does as his ‘proper’ job.

Dan has worked on various comics including Our Supermom, Madius’ Comics: Papercuts and Inkstains and Assault On Fortress Doom, among many others. He currently writes and illustrates his own superhero webcomic, Vanguard.

Vanguard Promotional ArtVanguard Book One launches at London Super Comic Con, which will take place at the Excel Centre in London on the 20th-21st of February.

Copies bought at LSCC will also include a signed sketchbook and a signed, glossy print of the of the front cover

• The strip continues online at http://vanguardcomic.com

Support Dan and the creation of Vanguard on Patreon

As a Patreon of Vanguard, not only will you get to see some terrific behind the scenes stuff – you’ll also gain access to Comic Book SFX tutorials as Dan uploads them / are requested

Find Vanguard comic on Facebook

Follow Vanguard on Twitter @VanguardComic

Buy digital issues of Vanguard on Comixology

Follow Vanguard on Comic Rocket

 



Categories: British Comics, British Comics - Current British Publishers, Featured, Reviews

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2 replies

  1. What an ace review. It addresses many of the strengths/weaknesses present in the first book. It gets better as we move along!

    Cheers Jon

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