Vertigo Quarterly: Cyan #1 Review

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<i>Vertigo Quarterly: Cyan</i> #1 Review

Writers: Shaun Simon, Joe Keatinge, Lee Garbett, Jock, Amy Chu, Monty Nero, Chris Peter, Ana Koehler, Robert Rodi, James Tynion IV, Fabio Moon
Artists: Tony Akins, Ken Garing, Jock, Amy Chu, Alitha Martinez, Al Davison, Ana Koehler, Javier Fernandez, Martin Morazzo, Fabio Moon
Publisher: DC/Vertigo
Release Date: April 30, 2014

Vertigo jumps a few rungs up the ladder of abstraction for Cyan, the first of its new quarterly anthologies. For its unifying theme, the CMYK series looks to the color foundation of modern print comics: Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black. Each issue will be dominated by one of those four colors, either visually or tonally.

Much like the anthology it inspires, the color cyan is vibrant and cool. But it represents different things to different people, and it’s an intriguing creative experiment to see where different creators take such a loose mandate. Some zero in on darkness and nocturnal cerulean hues, while others see the shade as vivid and electric, shocking life into a drab world. Shaun Simon and Tony Atkins play up the lack of warmth with a chilling psycho-killer story, while Joe Keatinge and Ken Garing spin a sci-fi tale about escaping the blues.

The vignettes span many different genres, lending a The Simpsons: Treehouse of Horror feel. It’s fun not knowing what will follow the cerebral math thriller — will it be a monster story or a fairy tale? It’s hard to develop much characterization in so tight a space, but most of the stories do it pretty well, which is another reason the broad theme works. The characters in these short tales serve the motif, and it’s able to shine without a boatload of backstory. Yet, James Tynion’s love story, with it’s Aesopian ending and thematic layers, accomplishes both with ease.

Amid graphic novels and year-long story arcs, short fiction doesn’t get a ton of play in comics, which is a shame. Having said that, including one or two less stories in the collection to allow the others to run slightly longer would have been nice, but it’s by no means a deal breaker. Anthologies have their merits regardless of the theme that ties them all together, but Vertigo has forged a creative playground with Cyan and its chromatic successors. Clinging to tighter ideas wouldn’t allow the range of philosophical exploration that this book does.