Published on September 23rd, 2015 | by Noel Thorne0
Here’s the entire pitch for Virgil – are you ready? It’s kinda mind-blowing: a standard revenge thriller where the hero… is GAY! And when I say “standard”, boy, is this comic standard – bog standard! That could basically be the entire review but let’s pull on this thread a bit more and see what we can unravel.
Set in Kingston Town, Virgil is a cop who has a fun life shaking down drug dealers so he can save up to move to Toronto with his secret boyfriend. Virgil’s in the closet because Jamaica, it turns out, is a pretty homophobic place to live! Virgil’s sexuality is uncovered by his fellow cops and things do not go well for him from that point on. They tried to kill him and take his man? It’s revenging time, mon!
It’s cool to have more gay comics protagonists and I like that Virgil is the unstoppable badass archetype that is in every revenge story, he just happens to be into dudes. But Steve Orlando’s story is so, so bland. Virgil’s beaten nearly to death, he survives, takes the fight to his would-be killers, and blah blah blah. You’ve seen it a thousand times. Literally the one thing that sets it apart from the others is his sexuality. It’s almost a gimmicky comic in that regard.
Orlando calls his comic “queersploitation”, I think because “anything-sploitation” means you can do dumb and cheesy things and get away with them. Like how do the police know to raid Virgil’s dinner party, thus outing him? Why did they keep Virgil alive? Why did they keep his boyfriend Ervan alive? No clue to any of that – it’s just contrived nonsense that’s there so we can have this revenge tale. Mindless rubbish!
J. D. Faith’s art is pretty nice. It’s got that Sean Phillips noir-y style that suits the intense, grim storyline and I loved Chris Beckett’s imaginative use of colours which gave the comic an appealing, almost trippy, look at times. The action is a bit sludgy though which is a shame as the key scenes in the book are action-centric.
By all means, let’s have more gay heroes but don’t make that the sole reason for your book to exist. Put them in an original story! Or at the very least put them in a decent, non-formulaic story that makes sense! Just don’t bore your readers with rehashed nonsense like Steve Orlando did with Virgil. I guess it worked out for Steve though, he is writing DC’s new Midnighter series but if it’s anything like Virgil, it’ll be totally missable too.
Writer: Steve Orlando
Artist: J. D. Faith
Colourist: Chris Beckett