V #1 (February, 1985)
“City on the Edge”
Writer – Cary Bates
Pencils – Carmine Infantino
Inks – Tony DeZuniga
Letters – John Costanza
Colors – Michele Wolfman
Edits – Marv Wolfman
Cover Price: $0.75
I remember V being one of the things my parents were excited for back in the long ago. They didn’t often look forward to things on TV, but V was definitely one of those times. I, personally, remember very little about it. I’m sure I didn’t watch the whole thing back then (or honestly, ever since), but it did affect me, and there there are a handful of scenes that stick with me to this day.
I think I was in second grade… and, me and my buddy Marc had the great idea that we’d be Visitors for Halloween. Now, we were just a couple of dummies, and so we created our “costumes” out of… paper. We made a pair of paper masks, one green and scaly, the other, like a normal human’s. Or, whatever the second-grade approximation of a normal human mask might’ve been. They didn’t quite live up to our expectations… and, sadly, we could only “tear off” the human mask once before having to make another. Kids are dumb…
As for the movie/mini-series, the main scene I remember (besides the initial lizard-skin reveal, of course), was one during which some kids were playing with Visitor action figures. I thought that was the coolest thing ever… and I really wanted them!
Now, for the comic. I’ve… never read it! Not til today. I don’t have the foggiest idea what to expect. Is this going to be a faithful adaptation of the movies? Was it going to be something altogether new? Not sure… all I know is this series has been on my to-read stack for years now, and we’re finally going to look at it now.
We open in a “Neutral Zone” in Los Angeles, and from the looks of it, the Visitors have already made their presence felt. Hmm… wasn’t expecting this to start this deep into the story. Anyhoo, members of the Resistance are having themselves some drinks at the Club Creole. They are Chris, Ham, Mike, and Juliet. A trio of trenchcoated Visitors enter the joint… and, even though there’s a strict no-firearms policy in the Neutral Zones, the aliens start blastin’ anyway!
There’s a brief firefight, during which, either by blast or fallen debris, Chris takes a bang to the shoulder. One of the baddies snags a hostage, to which Ham blasts the bugger right in the face, revealing his reptilian face. The remaining Visitors rush outside to inform one of their patrols that there’s a a gunfight goin’ down… and, the humans started it. Uh-huh. Nice try.
Our Resistance members are separated, and we first follow Mike and Juliet as they lead some other humans into a secret headquarters located below the Club Creole. Ham and Chris are hiding out inside a dumpster outside the joint.
Inside the Club, the Visitors check in with a fella named Lorne, who is confident that this is just a temporary set-back, and the members of the Resistance won’t elude them for long.
We catch back up with Mike and Juliet, who have arrived at an old Hollywood movie lot. There, they meet up with a man named Willie… who has been attempting to repair one of the Visitor’s SkyFighter ships. Once that’s done, our pair recruit two men named Boyce and Hart to take on their maiden voyage.
Meanwhile, Ham’s eating garbage as he and Chris barrel down the Santa Monica Highway in the back of a garbage truck. They hop out when the gettin’s good, and flag down an ambulance in order to forcibly get Chris’ arm fixed up.
We zip up to space, and check in with the Visitor Commander Lydia, who is reading her Second-in-Command, Diana the riot act for disregarding the “Neutral Zone” treaty and allowing the Club Creole incident go down. Diana just takes it… she doesn’t have any excuses.
We next head over to the Science Frontiers Offices, where that guy Lorne from earlier is meeting with a man named Bates… probably not Cary. We learn here that this Mr. Bates took out the Club Creole “hit”, and paid for those trenchcoated visitors to take out Ham Tyler.
Speaking of that guy… Back in the ambulance, Ham is driving while the Paramedics tend to Chris’ wounded wing. It’s not long before they are spotted by some jet-pack-packin’ Visitors.
We rejoin the rest, as they’re flying in their stolen SkyFighter. Soon, they are confronted by a Surveillance Craft that demands them to identify themselves. It’s here that they enlist their “Voca-Simulator”, which makes it sound like their ship is full’a Visitors.
Back with the other two. They (and the medics) bail out of the ambulance and allow the baddies to blow up their ride. This way, the Visitors will assume they died in the blast. I guess this works… if we don’t think too hard about it. I mean, didn’t the jetpacked aliens see them get ou… er, nope… not gonna think too hard.
Ham and Chris bid their drivers adieu, and then hijack a boat at the Vista Marina. Well, they try to, anyway. They find themselves held up by an armed individual. Even though they outnumber the one guy… and are both armed, they surrender.
We rejoin Mike and the rest, as they land their craft by a small village. They are greeted by some very happy (and gift-bearing) people. That is, until they realize that the passengers of this rig are not the Visitors. Hmm… Anyhoo, they drop their gifts… and we get a glimpse of what might be inside. Some creepy critters indeed!
So… I’m thinkin’ you’ve kinda got to have a working knowledge of V in order to best appreciate this one. Going into it “fresh” really doesn’t do you any favors.
I was kind of hoping this would serve as a “primer” to the V Universe… and sort of ease us into the concept and trappings of the world. I was also hoping to take a few steps back, and maybe not instantly reveal the Visitors as lizard-skinned baddies. Was really looking forward to seeing the paranoia angle played up… where the Earthlings didn’t quite know what to make of their visitors. I wanted the Resistance to sort of “bubble up”, as peoples’ suspicions grew, ya know?
This feels kind of like a “worst of all worlds” sort of scenario. We don’t get a reveal, we don’t get a backstory, we don’t get a reason to invest… unless we’ve already seen a great deal/all of the V media. Now, I’m usually the first guy to give a book “props” for not holding the readers hand… for rewarding “loyalty”, knowledge, and research. But this? I mean, we’re shifting mediums from moving picture to static image… and, there’s an expectation that the reader be highly familiar with the source material.
I’m sure had I been more familiar with V… I’d probably have liked this better. Fact of that matter is, I’m not. It’s been well-over 30 years since I’ve seen any of it… and, well… this issue didn’t do all that much for me.
Let’s look at the art. Holy smokes did Tony DeZuniga do a wonderful service to Carmine Infantino’s pencils! If you’ve followed this site for awhile, you might know that Carmine in the 80’s is some of my least favorite stuff. When I saw his name in the credits, I kinda cringed… but, hot damn… DeZuniga really pulls this one out!
Overall… if you’re a more knowledgeable V fan than I, I bet you’ll really dig this. If you only have a passing remembrance of the stuff… this might not be for you.
(Not the) Letters Page: