VS #3 / Writer: Iván Brandon / Artist: Esad Ribić / Colorist: Nic Klein / Letterer: Aditya Bidikar / Publisher: Image Comics / Release Date: April 11th, 2018

VS #3 continues to build this unique science fiction world. Writer Iván Brandon, artist Esad Ribić, and colorist Nic Klein have done a masterful job so far at showing us what sets the universe of VS apart from everything else on the stands. War is profitable in this society. It also drives the economy and is seen as pure entertainment. And the companies who shell out the most money can run their cheesy ads just as someone is being gutted to death on live television. Sounds intense, but there’s a utopian feel to this society. I think that comes from Ribić’s smooth art and Klein’s colors. We still don’t know much about this universe, but VS #3 dives deeper than the first two issues did. Brandon shows us who’s working behind the scenes, and just how messed up the politics of VS really is.

In the first two issues, we followed Satta Flynn. A stereotypical soldier who knows how to do one thing, and one thing only. Kill. And he’s pretty good at it. In this world of war entertainment, he’s one of the best. But, he was injured in the first issue and the second issue saw him struggling with his new squad. But, Satta’s ratings are through the roof. The public loves him and even though his performances have been mediocre, he’s a crowd favorite.

This issue focuses on a group of people discussing Satta’s recent popularity. One of the best things about this comic right now is that we still don’t know much. As I said, there’s a feeling of utopia in this comic. Or at least, the people in this comic think they live in a utopia.

The issue doesn’t clearly state who the people talking are. One thing is clear though, and that’s there’s some sort of hierarchy. We see a man and a woman, who command the conversation. There’s a group of people around them and the bulk of this issue recaps what’s been happening with Satta in battle. He’s losing his fights, but his ratings climb. His teammate, Major Devi, is performing exceptionally well however, and people don’t seem to be taking to her. I found this scene funny, even though Brandon maybe didn’t intend it to come off that way. War is so important in this society, that much is clear. But what’s happening with Satta is an aberration, and this group of people had no answers. This scene was filled with scatter-brained ideas, people cutting each other off, and incomplete sentences. And that to me, was hilarious given the serious tone this comic is trying (and achieving) to give off.

One thing is clear in this issue and that’s these two head bosses want Satta’s popularity to decrease. They’re losing money, land, and resources because of him. They tell their colleagues that they are “exempt from Ascension.” A cool scene happens next where the two bosses shoot up a tube and go to a new world of sorts above the planet.

In this series, Brandon has shown glimpses of the civilian population and he does again in this issue. They seem to have more emotion than these tight bureaucrats, but the grip the higher ups have on this society is undeniable. There’s a clear disconnect between the bosses and the rest of population.

One of the defining characteristics of VS #3 just like the rest of the issues, is the art. Esad Ribić is known for his soft, realistic pencil work and this issue boasts impressive work from him. The world of VS is a science-fiction marvel. They have technology beyond our comprehension and Ribić’s pages showcase their advancements. The VS is universe is supposed to feel upscale and commercial Ribić’s art gives it that feel. The Ascension scene with the two political bosses was one of the best pages in the series, as we see this tube extend from a valley that has city buildings in it, and it’s surrounded by a beautiful sunset.

Nic Klein’s colors hammer home the tone this art is trying to give off. They flow together well. Blue is the main color Klein uses in this series. It gives the comic a tranquil feeling. Even though this place is geared towards war, you feel at peace looking at the art because of how soft and serene everything looks. It truly is special and without the art, this comic and concept would come off a bit stilted.

The intrigue of this comic is the lack of knowledge we as readers have. Ribić and Klein’s art drive the story and establish the futuristic tone. VS #3 was our first look at the powers that control this world and I enjoyed the focus on that aspect of this world. Satta Flynn has his work cut out for him. Everyone wants him dead. His resilience saved his life in the first issue, and it helped him get back in the fight. It’s going to be interesting to see how far these people are willing to go to end Satta’s popularity.

Verdict: 5 out of 5

"His name is Toren Chenault but he goes by Raymond X. He's currently a student attending Michigan State University from where he will graduate this spring. He loves all things nerd culture from television to comics and his favorite heroes are Daredevil, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Nighthawk, and Captain Atom. Toren is a writer as well, and his debut superhero novel, Mystic Man, will be released this year.

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