MD Marie (Writer), Carlos Miko (Artist), Dema Jr (Artist), Thiago Goncalves (Colours), Troy Peteri (Letters)
6 February, 2019
Turn Washington was just a teenager when he was sentenced to life in prison for killing a young woman. Ten years later, new evidence helps overturn Turn’s conviction. Now exonerated, Turn looks forward to restarting his life but the moment he steps out of prison, Detective Chip Christopher, who investigated Turn’s case, is waiting for him. Chip doesn’t believe Turn is innocent, and he is just waiting for Turn to slip up and end up right back in prison.
Chip has a lot on his plate—alongside Turn’s exoneration, turns out Internal Affairs is now getting involved in Chip’s business. And then someone leaves a mysterious package in Chip’s car. Could this be the breakthrough he’s been looking for?
Vindication #1 is a captivating tale. Not only do we have the ten-year-old murder mystery of Turn’s alleged victim, but there’s another case where the prime suspect has been set free. And then there’s Chip, who is so sure of Turn’s guilt that he is ready to do anything to take him down, even contaminate evidence.
As a murder mystery, Vindication #1 certainly checks all the boxes, and is quite the page-turner. I am intrigued to see where the story goes next, especially as this first issue ends on a humdinger of a cliffhanger. However, the writing does leave much to be desired. The dialogue flows well and appears quite realistic, but when Chip is alone, the authenticity of voice is lost. Chip talking out loud to himself completely took me out of Vindication #1—nobody really says things like “She looks familiar but I don’t know why” to themselves! It was moments like these that were disappointing in an otherwise gripping story.
The art by Carlos Miko and Dema Jr. captures the gritty environment that Vindication #1 evokes—dark outlines and minimally-detailed features. It’s what one would expect of a murder mystery—strong and purposeful—but I wonder if they are playing it too safe. Would a different style have been more evocative? Thiago Goncalves’ colours are muted and there is an over-reliance on darker tones and shades. I didn’t mind it but, again, it feels too safe. The world is colourful and beautiful, and yet marred by horrors like murder.
When WWAC interviewed Vindication writer MD Marie, I got very excited for this new series. At a time when incarceration numbers for African-Americans in the United States is unreasonably high, alongside ever-increasing police violence, Vindication seems to be an extremely relevant story.
Which makes me question why Vindication’s protagonist is the white detective and not the exonerated African-American attempting to regain his life. Chip Christopher is an interesting enough character, and there are already clues to him being a dirty cop, which should make for a good story. I also understand the lure of writing from the detective’s point of view—a police procedural is a compelling approach. However, it does place the reader in a position where they must relate to Chip, instead of empathising with Turn.
When I spoke with MD Marie, she said she hoped readers would leave Vindication feeling that there are more sides to a single story. By the end of this first issue, it feels like one view is being forced on the readers, to the detriment of others. Having said that, I am far more reassured that Vindication will get better because this is a story being written and drawn by people of colour. Had it been in the hands of a white writer, we would already know where Vindication was headed, but with Marie, Miko, Dema, and Goncalves in charge, I feel confident in reserving judgement till the end of the series.
Vindication #1 has a good story but suffers from flawed writing and unimaginative art. But the characters are far too compelling and the mystery so immersive that I am genuinely excited to read more. However, the second issue of Vindication will have to do a serious course-correction if it is to keep readers happy. I sincerely hope it will be up to the task.