Pullbox Reviews Vyper: Crimson Dawn- Action gets a facelift in this throwback homage

VYPER is an comic book set in a Los-Angeles 1985. We follow the adventures of Sloane Vyperini, a federal agent tasked with driving high-tech pacification vehicle codenamed: VYPER.

Serving alongside Sloane is Connie Devereaux, the inventor of VYPER, whom remotely operates the various weapon systems from a secret command centre.

Can the VYPER team stop a Soviet terrorist attack launched at the heart of LA?

The 80’s were a different time. Movies were heavy on the explosions before Michael Bay ever set his first charge. The plots served the action, and the heroes were tough and not afraid to get their hands dirty. There was never a problem that couldn’t be overcome with the careful (or not so careful) application of strength & power. Often, those problems were caused by Hollywood’s favorite group of bad guys at the time. Hellbent on spreading their influence across the globe regardless of the cost to innocents and determined to grind the concept of Freedom under their booted heel.


Wow… looking at the headlines right now, the past really is prologue.

The other driving force behind 80’s action movies was the need for the sequels to be bigger, badder, and more… well… just more. With that in mind, overachiever (writer/artist/letterer/PR man) Dan Butcher followed Vyper, his outstanding love letter to action movies, with the sequel Crimson Dawn. As a fan of the original, getting on board with this installment’s Kickstarter was a pretty easy decision.

Why, you ask? I was growing up in the 80’s and was cutting my teeth on movies like Cobra, Missing in Action, & Commando, and later by the likes of Bloodsport, Above the Law, & Roadhouse. Then when the direct-to-video market exploded and made niche stars of Cynthia Rothrock, Jeff Wincott, & Don “The Dragon” Wilson. All these movies and the heroes who came with them live on in the pages of Vyper.

I have to hand it to Dan Butcher. He’s managed to walk a fine line between staying true to his inspirational material without hiding behind its more problematic tropes. Okay, Russia may not be happy with the storyline of Crimson Dawn, but right now they’re a little short on credibility so I think it’s fine. The charm of Vyper is in the absolute lack of gray area. We know right from wrong; readers can see from the start that the bad guys are unrepentantly bad & secure in the knowledge that they’re gonna get what’s coming to them. Even with the plot’s utter lack of gray area, Butcher manages to deliver enough depth in his characters to keep them palatable for modern audiences.

Like very few comic creators out there, Butcher handles the visual side of his work as well as the written. His style in Vyper is dramatic and often over-the-top, perfectly matched to the kind of story he’s telling. Main character and ex-special forces operative Sloane Viperini (no relation to Marion Cobretti, except in spirit) is larger than life & twice as badass. That attitude is laced throughout Butcher’s book and is a prime example of what happens when a creator can handle their vision through all aspects of the work. When an artist and a writer can get together and share their idea of what a story needs to be, it’s a minor miracle. Dan Butcher bypasses the need for that level of collaboration, drawing what he’s written in a dynamic style all his own. And he manages to slip in some awesome Easter Eggs along the way, little pieces that not everyone is going to get, but add a lot to the comic for those who do.

If you can get past the ridiculousness of Butcher’s love letter to 80’s action cinema, you could be in for a treat even if you don’t appreciate the subtleties of the genre. Vyper: Crimson Dawn isn’t readily available just yet as it’s fresh off of its Kickstarter campaign and backer rewards are still coming out. You can get ready by hopping over to Butcher’s store and checking out his first installment in the Vyperverse. While you’re there, I’d wholeheartedly recommend you check out his ongoing opus, Vanguard, a much more serious outing as Butcher dives into his own take on superheroes.

Final Score: 11/13

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