Issue three sees Vinegar Teeth return back to its three core elements: being a buddy cop comic with carnival-esque humor and Lovecraftian horror. The best buddy cop films happen when the two partners finally gel and are able to combine their differences with their ability to work together. Vinegar Teeth and Buckle accomplish this, surprisingly, by exchanging hat wear; Vinegar Teeth gives Buckle a new wide-brimmed hat while Buckle gives Vinegar Teeth a diver’s helmet (so he won't eat any more criminals). The two are able to find that middle ground and work together.
The carnival-esque humor is back in full form, with characters, cultists, and infected citizens rendered as grotesque as possible, with squiggly features, sharp teeth, and exaggerated poses. A hilarious moment occurs after Vinegar Teeth has eaten two criminals, and one of their hands lays in a pile of vomit, giving a rude gesture. Buckle quips: “Swallow that before I slap cuffs on it for insulting an officer.” It’s dark and grotesque, but superbly delivered.
And finally, the Lovecraft influence is on full display in issue three. The great Cullzathro (obviously derived from Cthulhu) is rendered in complete cosmic infinity and recalls another Lovecraft deity: Azathoth. The various other monsters that circle round Cullzathro is frightening and echoes the imagery of the servitors playing their pipes. The glowing debris in the town’s water supply hearkens back to Vinegar Teeth’s primary source material, The Colour Out of Space. The overall, general apocalyptic feeling in the comic (pyres of smoke, blood red skies, anarchy in the populace) is in alignment with other authors who write apocalyptic Cthulhu Mythos literature, such as James Chambers’ The Engines of Sacrifice or the bulk of the stories from the Return of the Old Ones and Apotheosis.
Issue three perfectly gets the story of Vinegar Teeth back on track and aligns all of the elements for the fourth and final issue. The beginning of each issue of Vinegar Teeth has shown Buckle in a courtroom, with each issue told in flashback, so seeing the culmination of events looks to promise a big payoff in the final issue.
Creative Team: Damon Gentry (writer), Troy Nixey (writer, art, lettering, cover art), Guy Major (colourist, cover art), Michelle Madsen (colourist)
Publisher: Dark Horse Originals (imprint of Dark Horse Comics)
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Nicholas Diak is a pop culture scholar of industrial and synthwave music, Italian genre films, peplum films, and H. P. Lovecraft studies. He contributes essays to various anthologies, journals, and pop culture websites. He is the editor of the anthology, The New Peplum: Essays on Sword and Sandal Films and Television Programs Since the 1990s. He can be found at nickdiak.com.