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Thursday, 17 May 2012


A web comic by Dan Butcher

Today's guest post is brought to you by Rob Turner.  Rob is a writer/producer for Polycomical Studios, the creators of Reynard City. You can download the comics for free and find out more about the project at www.reynardcity.com.
(You can also read our review of Reynard City here).

What's it about?
How many British superheroes can you name? For the average “man in the street” this is quite difficult. An older generation may name Dan Dare. For the younger generation they may strain and wonder if Lara Croft or James Bond count (at times their acrobatics/gadgetry is borderline superhero). Some might argue Dr Who might be a good example, given that he has both supernatural abilities and his quirky nature makes him distinctly British.

For comic fans there are of course people such as Captain Britain or Emma Frost of the X-Men (though her status as superhero is debatable, seeing as she has veered from hero, anti hero to outright villain.) The Vanguard looks set to change this. Not only do we get one British superhero but a whole team’s worth!

The Vanguard are the stars of Vanguard, a comic written by top online comic artist Dan Butcher, who has worked on a variety of projects and whose style has helped to boost the appeal of numerous different titles.
What's good about it?
The story is set in the near future, where superheroes (here referred to as “meta humans”) are as commonplace as reality TV stars, appearing in adverts, giving interviews and attending personal appearances. As a matter of fact a rival team called Eagle 5 are indeed reality TV stars, while smug show off Max Treme revels in celebrity endorsements.

While these characters are fun, they don’t overshadow the main players. The hard drinking mystic Scot Woden and smart arse wolf creature Gradlon are personal favourites of mine. Like the scientists in Ghostbusters I like how they seem to treat their acts of superheroism as just another job.

The spoof adverts and the antics of these characters add an excellent layer of satire to proceedings. Like Paul Verhoven the mischief and sense of fun helps to contrast with the brutal violence that is a big part of this comic.
However I would not suggest that the violence in this comic (while at times bloody and graphic) is necessarily gratuitous. For me it gives the comic a grounding in its own reality, a feeling that pain, death and suffering are very real in this world. The shock upon seeing the violence is real and to be honest so it should be.

This is before we even get to intrigue of tracking down an evil Russian separatist threatening to destroy the world. The action sequences in this comic are gritty. In some respects it reminds me of the first half of the X Men First Class film, a kind of throw back to early Sean Connery James Bond. Fortunately for this comic Dan never seems to lose sight of the brutality of his world and this is what makes the story and its visual storytelling so compelling.

What's bad about it/what's the art like?
Some people have criticised how Dan draws faces. I personally do not have a problem with it so I feel this is more a stylistic preference. As stated before those who are sensitive to graphic violence and strong language should avoid it as well.

Other information
In short I strongly urge you to join this British superteam for a very different superhero experience.  You can read Vanguard at http://vanguardcomic.com.  The first page is here.

Art supplied by Dan Butcher.

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