‘Vinegar Teeth #4:’ Advance Comic Book Review

Complete and utter pandemonium is perhaps the best way to describe the fourth and final issue of Dark Horse’s buddy cop/Lovecraftian/carnivalesque series, Vinegar Teeth. The series’ revelation is that Vinegar Teeth (real name Zathral) was sent to Earth by his father, Cullzathro, to contaminate the water with alien eggs/embryos that, when ingested, brainwash the populace to sow the seeds of anger, allowing cosmic horrors to invade. Issue four sees Brick City aflame in chaos, as cultists and monsters run amok while Cullzathro’s hand gleefully plucks up buildings full of people to consume.  With their partnership fully solidified, it is up to Vinegar Teeth and Artie to thwart the invading forces through all means necessary: shootin’, singin’, and drinkin'.  

Both Vinegar Teeth and Artie have reached their peek character growth by issue four. Much like Sam Worthington in Terminator: Salvation, Vinegar Teeth is unaware that he has unwittingly served his father as he integrates with the populace of Brick City, trying to do good deeds by being the best police officer possible. Artie has put aside his differences with Vinegar Teeth by this point, effectively not only partnering with the alien, but becoming a better cop himself in the process, as well.

Almost the entirety of issue four is mayhem and panic, as each frame of the comic shows Brick City under siege: buildings are on fire; cultists are running around; the police engage in gunfight with the monsters; and so on. Each panel has not only lots of movement (the background chaos, as well as the main characters driving/shooting/etc.), but the series’ trademark usage of inventive onomatopoeia and sound effects (Kersp! Hrmpuk! Scoob! Tunaed!) is on full display, as well. Each panel is, in essence, drowning in sounds, action, squiggily-lined characters, and movement. This causes the comic to have an incredible, high-stakes pace and momentum, but at the same time, with so much action (and inside jokes going on), it requires the reader to temper their consumption of each page to ensure they take everything in.

The comic takes time to engage in some meta/fourth-wall-breaking humor, with Artie stating that, “This is an action-comedy-adventure story. Contrived plot points are expected!” The ending of Vinegar Teeth does feel a little contrived, (It shares some similarities how the humans overcome the aliens in the Mars Attacks! film), but satisfying. The Vinegar Teeth experiment of seeing if the cosmic horror of H. P. Lovecraft could be combined with the buddy cop formula is ultimately a successful one, and perhaps that is due to its full embracing of carnivalesque humor: an over-the-top concept requires an over-the-top execution. The overall series is rewarding, and perhaps the doors will remain open so that future stories of Artie and Vinegar Teeth on the beat, doing police work and haphazardly getting mixed up in more outlandish stories, could be realized.


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)
Click here to purchase.


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.

 

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