REVIEW: ‘Vanish,’ Issue #2

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Vanish #2

Vanish #2 is written by Donny Cates, penciled by Ryan Stegman, inked by JP Mayer, colored by Sonia Oback, and lettered by John J. Hill. It’s published by Image Comics under Cates and Stegman’s KLC Press imprint. Oliver Harrison has learned that the Hollow — the group of wizards that worked for the malevolent Baron Vanish — is alive and well. However, they’ve disguised themselves as superheroes. Therefore it’s up to Oliver to reignite his magic and take them on as a supervillain. But is he willing to fight if it means his wife Elynore and best friend Dustin are dragged into the conflict?

In a similar vein to his other Image hit, Crossover, Cates takes a step back from the first issue’s insane ending to flesh out his world. And it’s a hell of a world to be in. The superheroes in this world are revealed to be wizards who departed the magical world of Everkeep. Oliver’s friend Dustin makes a living as the stage magician Deacon Dust. And in the opening scene, a young Oliver is prevented from stopping a significant tragedy, leading to him growing disillusioned with the world of magic. However, how Cates does this may cause some conflict among readers. I see what he was going for, but there could have been a better way to approach things.

That aside, the book continues to look amazing. Stegman leans into the ’90s-era aesthetic, filling the comic full of grimy alleyways and smoke-filled chimneys. Oliver also cuts an imposing figure in his supervillain getup; the long, tattered wizard’s cloak he wears covers his entire face save for his eyes and shaggy black hair. Anybody who didn’t know better would probably run screaming from him in fear, perhaps the point. In contrast, the members of the Prestige look like an actual superhero team — they even have a base built into a mountain that acts as a homage to the Justice League’s Watchtower or Avengers Mansion. Stegman, like Cates, knows that appearances aren’t everything when it comes to this book.

Further selling the “dark fantasy” look of the book are Mayer’s heavy inks, which add texture to every character and setting. Wounds take on a festering, bleeding look. Every brick in every building is visible, as well as the tatters in Oliver’s cloak. And Oback’s colors also set the stage for the darkness that plagues behind the surface of Oliver’s world. The scenery will often shift from pitch black to very, very dark grey, putting Gotham City to shame. And topping it all off is Hill, whose black and white captions for Oliver outline just how fractured the former mage is due to his upbringing and the unresolved trauma of battling Vanish.

Vanish #2 builds out a world of magic, menace, and mystery, delivering a superhero tale unlike any other. The stage is set for a battle between Oliver and the Prestige/Hollow as soon as the next issue. And for once in my life, I’m rooting for the villain — or in this case, the hero. Because in a world of magic, nothing’s what it seems.

Vanish #2 is available now wherever comics are sold.


Vanish #2
4

TL;DR

Vanish #2 builds out a world of magic, menace, and mystery, delivering a superhero tale unlike any other. The stage is set for a battle between Oliver and the Prestige/Hollow as soon as the next issue. And for once in my life, I’m rooting for the villain — or in this case, the hero. Because in a world of magic, nothing’s what it seems.

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