Vertigo’s Air (Wilson & Perker) is a solid attempt to mesh fantasy into a post 9/11 world, and while such a venture is to be applauded, it does so with mixed results. The narrative is at times jarring and disjointed, harkening back to the weaker episodes of Lost, except there are no sound or music cues and very few visual clues to let you know where you are in the sequence of events. It’s an interesting choice, which gives the audience the benefit of the doubt, but it can at times be confusing.
The work as a whole is not bad, on the contrary it makes for an entertaining read. What limits this work isn’t the quality of language or the artwork (which is pretty darn good), but the character motivations themselves, particularly in the lead, Blythe. Blythe herself is a bit of a riddle. A flight attendant with Acrophobia (Dichotomy!), she is both impulsive and unsure of herself (More dichotomy!) and is suspicious of while at the same time attracted to Zayn, a handsome and mysterious stranger who may or may not be a terrorist. Zayn’s true motivation in this story is still not completely clear, though bits and pieces keep being mentioned. It’s intriguing but, after 5 chapters, a little bit annoying that we still don’t know what this guy is all about.
Blythe’s almost immediate pre-occupation with him is also hard to swallow. She goes from suspicious, to hostile, to in love, to obsessed in the span of 10 pages. And, we’re still not clear if the object of her affections is one of the good guys. Heck, I’m not even convinced that the bad guys (a violent group of vigilantes called the Etesian Front hell bent on fighting terrorism) are all that bad. In one scene they are trading bullets with the heroes, in the next they are trading witty repartee as they all share an airplane home together. It’s a bit off balance, and it could be that the writer intended to tell the story in this manner, so that we, the reader, would better sympathize with the tribulations that Blythe is going through, but it comes off as distracting.
That being said, there are a lot of merits to this book. The illustrations produced by M.K. Perker go from passable to quite good, employing texture and shadow effectively. At one point his shadows portray a sense of foreboding before boarding a flight; at another, two silhouettes share a tender moment that would be otherwise cheapened with too much detail. I particularly liked the sequence where Blythe explains when her Acrophobia started. An image of her as a young girl, clinging to the ground, afraid of the sky’s power to envelope her is quite poignant. The cover art between chapters is also great, one being Blythe pushing a food cart laden with munitions and weapons through an airplane full of seedy-looking bogeymen.
Things go from odd (Yes, it is unlikely to hold onto someone with just one hand while parachuting out of an airplane) to just plain wacky (secret Cabals of airline executives who can harness the power of the ancient Aztecs). I had hoped there would be more in terms of the public response to terrorism, and the airliner life in the 21st century here, but by the end of Volume 1, it was quite clear that we weren’t in Kansas anymore. While these revelations are crazier than your average yarn, the work is entertaining, and the plot has me curious enough to continue reading. And, honestly, after the last 11 years, who wouldn’t want a little escapism now and then?
Overall, this is a well-told and interesting read. Despite a few shortcomings, it’s definitely worth picking up.