Review: Vatican #1

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Writer Dan Barnes
Artist Lee Ciasullo
Colours Barnes & Ciasullo

The digital comics released by Dan over at Dead Bride Comics have appealed to me for quite some time, so naturally I was quite excited to hear he had a new release… but would Vatican live up to my expectations after his delightfully ooky series Monster Home?

This vigilante hero tale opens strongly with an attempted rape thwarted by our protagonist. The artwork from Ciasullo is dark yet tasteful and plenty atmospheric with the design of the hero eye grabbing and quite memorable (imagine if Nightwing were a Knight’s Templar).


Still, although the layout and overall look is eye candy, I feel that his figure drawing is often rather lovely but let down by a few rogue panels where the standards are not as high as they are throughout! (I feel like a hypocrite pointing this out as I am guilty of the same, but then that is probably why I notice!)

Barnes introduces the nature of the vigilante seamlessly as the newly saved Librarian is handed back her Bible. Religious superhero stories can be a difficult one to do well – needing a decent understanding of theology as well as some imagination on the spin (Hellblazer and Preacher are good examples) so this creative team may have their work cut out. Yet, the reference to religion is minimal as of yet and this comic speaks more of justice than faith.

The orphan trained by ancient martial arts master smacks of stereotype, but it is one I love and it works for Batman.
There are subtle hints to the things to come, introducing the corrupt gangs and corporate scumbags that run the city, all with names that provide nice symbolism like the “Divine” corporation and the “Doomsday” gang. However, there is nothing to give us any clue as to what made our vigilante choose the church as his image, or why he is known as “Vatican“. All we know is his motivation to clean up the corrupt city and that he does not work alone… with an unseen and unheard person on his ear piece called “Burt“. There is also an introduction to the police detectives already fighting the good fight and as a whole it gives this comic a feel of Gotham City meets Hell’s Kitchen. I am ready for the next issue!

One thing that always grabs me with Barnes is his lettering.


Little touches like the cross logo at the start of the first dialogue box make me smile!


Sometimes the placement of the letters within the bubble is a little off kilter but that is just nit picking.

So over all thoughts? If you like DareDevil and Batman I think there is a good chance this will appeal to you. And as his digital comics are not too costly, getting one to try it out won’t break the bank!


Reach the boys on Twitter:

Dan Barnes @DeadBrideComics
Lee Ciasullo @RockyBadlands