Outlaw Nation #1
[Vertigo/DC Comics $2.50 US $3.95 CAN]
Written by Jamie Delano / Illustrated by Goran Sudzuka
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Outlaw Nation #1Vertigo’s flagship title, Preacher, has ended and there’s been a fair amount of buzz surrounding Outlaw Nation and whether it’s good enough to be the new star of the Vertigo line. Jamie Delano is no stranger to Vertigo having worked on Hellblazer, Animal Man and a slew of Vertigo mini-series and one-shots. So it’s no surprise that Outlaw Nation #1 has all the hallmarks of a Vertigo comic—extensive use of the “f” word, downright mean bad guys, strange powers, liberal doses of violence and a plot that grabs you by the throat and won’t let go.

Outlaw Nation introduces us to a few members of the Johnson clan, a family of immortals that gives the term dysfunctional family new meaning. Story Johnson is a writer whose words seem to be prophetic in that whatever he writes happens. As the issue begins, Story has been living in the jungles of Cambodia writing his great novel. Story really seems to be hiding out from his crazy family since his half-brother, “Kid Gloves,” was the one who dumped him out of a Huey in the first place. We’re also introduced to Sonny Hoag, a disillusioned former ATF agent who is searching for the mythical Johnson Place; Rosa Cao Tri-McGee, Sonny’s faithful girlfriend and soon-to-be-mother of his child; and Ruth “Sweetcakes” Hoag, mother to Sonny and Story’s former lover. If you hadn’t already guessed, Sonny is Story’s son and therefore a Johnson. He doesn’t know what that means yet but it should be interesting to watch him discover that finding the Johnson Place may raise more demons than it will vanquish.

Delano knows how to craft a good story. He’s given us a solid premise that looks to be chock full of nasty revelations. Story Johnson’s prose is particularly well done and reminded me of the style favored by the beat generation writers—long on stream of consciousness and short on dialogue.

Goran Sudzuka’s artwork is perfectly suited to Delano’s tale. His realistic style draws you in and adds to the drama of Delano’s plot. I particularly liked the fact that each character in the story has a distinctive look so much so that if you saw them on the street you wouldn’t bat an eye.

If Delano can keep things fresh and stay away from the tendency to make the story too convoluted and strange for its own good, Outlaw Nation could rise to the challenge and become the new flagship title for Vertigo. If you’re itching to try a new comic that’s sure to have some interesting twists and turns, give Outlaw Nation a try.

You should be able to get this series through your local comics retailer. You can also check out the DC Comics web site at www.dccomics.com.