Oeming, Michael Avon.  Victories, no. 1.  Milwaukie, OR: Dark Horse Comics, Inc., August 2012.  22pp.  $3.50.  Minor spoilers.

Oeming paints a portrait of a dystopian future where the hero takes upon himself a simultaneous attempt to redeem himself and his city.  The art style is stark and utilitarian, no detail superfluous.  It draws you in to the visceral narrative.  Sadly, the story does not match the potential of the art work.  The premise is overdone, the dialogue is stilted, and the MacGuffin is the catch-all of genetic manipulation.  Indeed, the narrative leads one to believe that a truly dark vigilante known as the Jackal is the dully expected anti-hero, but he turns out to be a mere staging device seemingly of no lasting consequence.  The real protagonist, Faustus, who is not introduced until halfway through the installment, combats this other embodiment of moral ambiguity and hypocrisy with little real concern for the victims who were themselves mere caricatures.  He is a member of a team called the Victories, but behaves in a fashion more appropriate for a loner.  Faustus turns out to be the hero the city deserves, not the one it needs, in a tired trope that offers little in the way of humanity or hope to the reader interested in something new even if one allows for his obvious self-loathing.  The idea of the “gritty” story is overdone in graphic novels and frankly needs its own reboot into something more identifiable.  This “story” is blood and cursing at their puerile worst, having as little point as the lives depicted in that festering cesspool of a city.  The hero fails in his self-appointed task as surely as the author fails to present a novel tale.

— Prof. J. Holder Bennett, Collin College