Thursday, 2 July 2015

The Private Eye, Volume 2 Review (Brian K Vaughan, Marcos Martin)


We head one last time into Brian K Vaughan, Marcos Martin and Muntsa Vicente’s oddly un-futuristic future world of The Private Eye in this second and final volume. 

60 years ago at the start of the 21st century, The Cloud burst, giving away everybody’s private information and internet was subsequently outlawed. Privacy became a primary concern, so much so that people wear Halloween masks all the time in public to keep their identities secret. 

In this world, Patrick Immelmann, aka PI, makes a living snooping on others, gathering their secrets for sale. Until he’s approached by Taj McGill, a wealthy woman who wants PI to find out the identity of her sister’s killer. Little does he know that Raveena McGill’s death is linked to the mysterious terrorist DeGuerre and his plans to bring back… internet! 

Brian K Vaughan - he’s something isn’t he? Easily one of the best comics writers around today, he’s a hitmaker who isn’t doing any books for Marvel or DC and hasn’t for a while, and still manages to outsell a number of their titles with his indie efforts. Saga is a runaway success, and he’s got two Image titles coming out this year: We Stand on Guard (just launched) and Paper Girls with Wonder Woman artist Cliff Chiang still to come. He even did a digital-only comic, The Private Eye, put it up for name-your-price (meaning you could pay nil) and made it a critical and financial success. He’s un-freakin’-stoppable! 

Ok, that’s enough of that - back to the comic! The second half of the series plays out pretty damn well. PI and Taj are closing in on DeGuerre who’s sent his French assassins to kidnap PI’s assistant Mel from hospital. All points converge on the Wonderwall as the rocket satellite prepares to launch and change the world forever - or will it? 

Vaughan delivers an action-heavy detective story that jumps from gunfights and car chases - drawn fantastically by Marcos Martin and coloured to perfection by Muntsa Vicente - to the usual genre tropes of breaking into places to find clues and roughing up informants for answers. It’s a very fast-paced and exciting read.

Vaughan also throws in some key scenes for PI, developing his character’s backstory. There’s Mel and PI’s first encounter and a great scene between PI and his grandfather when PI’s a kid. It’s a delight to read a comic by a writer who knows how to tell a story and pace it just right. 

Couple gripes (isn’t there always?) bothered me like how Gramps is written as the only guy who knows how to use early 21st century tech, and DeGuerre’s plan felt a bit underdeveloped so there wasn’t as much tension in the finale because it was a bit unclear what the goal was and what exactly happened. I’m not sure how DeGuerre would’ve gotten away with it given how involved he was too, a bit like a Bond villain stood next to his death ray laughing maniacally - it’s like he wanted to be caught. 

These are minor complaints though and I really enjoyed reading the finale to this terrific series, especially seeing PI’s fate and that brilliant last page. Love Martin’s art - the amazing mask designs, the action sequences - and how it’s laid out to be read on a tablet even though it’s story is very anti-tech. Vicente’s colours are as bright and beautiful as they’ve been throughout the run. I read this on my iPad and every page looked incredible on the screen! 

The Private Eye is an excellent comic by a brilliant creative team. If you’re one of Vaughan’s many fans, you’ll love both volumes and will definitely want to check it out. Both books are available over at panelsyndicate.com for free download, or you can throw them a few bucks for their efforts - and why not, quality work deserves to be rewarded, right? 

The good news is that while The Private Eye is over, the online experiment was a success and Brian, Marcos and Muntsa are returning with a new title soon! Even more good news - The Private Eye is coming to print at Image and it'll have a Walking Dead crossover! 

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