Writer: Gerard J. Jones
Artist: Clovis Batebola
Mrs. Vengeance: The Broken Pavement: Part One is the first issue of a new comic book miniseries from writer Gerald J. Jones and artist Clovis Batebola. The story revolves around the titular character, a female masked vigilante that stalks and punishes criminals. She does so with the aid of a network of former criminals who serve as her informants and accomplices. Here is the promotional copy:
There is a legend among those of the criminal underworld, told in hushed voices only in well-lit rooms. They say something hunts the night for prey- something killing only criminals: a red ghost that cries out for vengeance, laughing at those whose lives she ends and fades away as quickly as she appears. The few whom survived her wrath remember little except for a gold band on her finger, so they dubbed her MRS. VENGEANCE.
Ex-CIA agent Edwin Monroe is the latest recruit in Mrs. Vengeance’s army of the night, those who aid in her quest to bring justice to criminals all over New York. With his years undercover for the government, Edwin thought he was prepared for anything Mrs. Vengeance would give him, but his first assignment brings up old ghosts that send his past and present on a collision course he may not survive.
It is not that uncommon for solitary vigilante characters in comic books to make use of informants. Mrs. Vengeance is unique in the sense that she treats her accomplices as active employees instead of tools to be used only when necessary.
Mrs. Vengeance’s modus operandi is to find criminals with special skillsets, who suffer from guilt and are near death. She saves them. To her, the criminal has already died and this new lease on life is owed to her. She then makes an offer: pay off this moral debt by working under her.
Another thing that makes this first issue stand out is that the comic is not told from Mrs. Vengeance’s perspective. Rather, the reader gets to experience the narrative from the point of view of her newest recruit – Edwin Monroe, who was ready to take his own life out of guilt before she is saved (or rather, recruited) by Mrs. Vengeance.
The use of a reader proxy works well to flesh out the narrative, and saves time that would normally go to dense exposition dump. Instead, we are introduced to Mrs. Vengeance’s army and the systems she has in place as Edwin is initiated into the group and given his first assignment. The crew that is introduced is small at this point, but it helps illustrate that they all have specific skillsets and specific tasks to perform. Like a well-oiled machine, the crew handles the more cumbersome aspects of vigilantism. Clean up of bodies, information gathering, bribery, etc. leaving Mrs. Vengeance free to focus on the more violent aspects of her job.
Character design-wise, Mrs. Vengeance will draw comparisons to Moon Knight and The Shadow. This is understandable, but not exactly a demerit. The archetype is well-worn at this point. But it helps that Mrs. Vengeance has aspects that make her unique, such as the aforementioned reliance on her army of former criminals, and her somewhat twisted take on the idea of justice and redemption.
In terms of art, we love what Clovis Batebola is doing. There is a surprising amount of detail in the panels, and it is usually clear what is happening even if the whole comic is in monochrome. One problem with this stylistic choice is that it muddles one detail about Mrs. Vengeance – she is described as a “red ghost that cries out for vengeance…” We have no idea if the color red is just colorful phrasing or a literal description of her costume. But on the whole, this is a minor nitpick and does not affect enjoyment of the story at all, nor does it reflect badly on the art.
The first issue of this miniseries is a little bit on the verbose side, but this is a given in the genre and necessary for world building. Fortunately, there is enough action in the pages to satisfy those of us who clearly want to see the vigilante in action. The comic does a decent job of showing what Mrs. Vengeance is capable of, and how much of a threat she is on her own. This is a well-rounded first issue that helps build curiosity and anticipation for the next issues. You can check out Mrs. Vengeance (and support its creators) through its Kickstarter page: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/jjj754/mrs-vengeance-the-broken-pavement-complete-mini-series