[Vertigo/DC Comics $5.95 US $9.25 CAN]
Written by Tom Peyer / Illustrated by Duncan Fegredo, Richard Case & Dean Ormston
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TotemsBernie Madden is a man who isn’t satisfied with every day life. He is constantly looking for conspiracies, UFOs, ancient mysteries, metahumans—anything to make the world more than it is, anything to make himself feel in control of an uncontrollable existence. Bernie wangles his way into a job being a waiter at a posh New Year’s Eve party thrown by John Constantine. A party that’s chock full of metahumans and other odd characters. Finally he has his chance to view creatures he’s only read about.

In an inspired fit of persuasive oratory, Bernie convinces Swamp Thing, Black Orchid and Animal Man to link into the earth’s life web and see if they can sense any impending dangers from the onset of the new millennium. Shade the Changing Man horns in on the meld and so does Bernie. This causes reality to be "remade according to Bernie’s wishes." The world is now beset by apocalyptic futures and alien-influenced history. It’s the job of our Vertigo heroes with the able help of Robotman to figure out what the heck is going on and set things right.

After Totems came out a long thread began on rec.arts.comics.vertigo entitled "Totems Sucked." While Totems wasn’t the best thing I’ve read from Tom Peyer (check out Hourman) I do think that assessment is a bit harsh. As a fun romp with a few of the original Vertigo old guard Totems succeeded. Peyer wasn’t trying to write anything deep or dark and as a writer who mainly works on the super-hero side of the DCU he gives the reader a surreal adventure with a few of the icons of the Vertigo line. Peyer could have toned down the liberal use of profanity by a few of the characters but I guess he was a little giddy with the freedom inherent in the mature readers label.

The art also team does an excellent job illustrating the story particularly on the characters. Each is distinctive and Bernie is perfectly rendered as a seedy, average joe who has been hopelessly beaten down by life.

If you're looking for a more light-hearted taste of Vertigo, give this one-shot a try.

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