Comics, Reviews

Vanish #7 Review: Waking Up the Beast

It's time to strap in for the unapologetic thrill ride created by Donny Cates, Ryan Stegman, and artist V. Ken Marion.

Vanish #7
Image: Image Comics
By: Javier ReyesJun 6, 2024, 12:16 PM

Vanish #7

By Donny Cates, Ryan Stegman, V. Ken Marion, Sonia Oback, and John J. Hill

Vanish #7

Vanish #7

Writer: Donny Cates and Ryan Stegman

Artist: V. Ken Marion

Publisher: Image Comics

Release Date: May 24, 2023

Page Count: 30

Format: Comic

Vanish is a comic that unapologetically excels in its niche. While the comic is not to my taste, I admire the creative flair to match the specific flavor of late-90s-era Image Comics. The series is an adrenaline rush of a read, promising a wild ride for its committed readers.

Vanish with blood on his handsImage: Image Comics

While many comic creators today try to push the envelope beyond capes and superheroes, Donny Cates and Ryan Stegman happily steer right into the bombastic tropes popular in the late 90s with their Vanish series from Image Comics. Everything from its over-the-top violence to visceral writing is shoved right to your face with no remorse. But at the core of all that shock and awe, Cates and Stegman have created a unique world driven by a compelling story about one man’s descent into madness. Vanish explores what it means to be a hero or villain with such intensity that it pulls you in for a wild and bloody ride. Now on its 7th issue, Vanish is quickly gearing up to turn its story in over its head.

Vanish fighting a warriorImage: Image Comics

The Story So Far

Vanish is a “superhero” story with a dark and depressing twist. When he was 14 years old, Oliver Harrison saved the mystical realm known as the Mistlands from being taken over by the evil sorcerer Baron Vanish. Together with The Hollow, Vanish destroyed everything in his path, including the city where the young boy’s parents lived. Blinded by his thirst for revenge, Oliver broke into his magic school’s forbidden archives to search for ways to stop the mad sorcerer. After seeing a vision of the future showing the world destroyed by Baron Vanish, Oliver knew he needed a secret weapon. Baron Vanish was impervious to magic, so Oliver put a bullet through his head.

With Vanish dead, the Mistlands were safe again. But the rest of The Hollow managed to escape. Ever since that fateful day, Oliver grew up mentally unstable because of his paranoia about the evil forces returning to fulfill the prophecy. He turned to drugs and alcohol to drown out his nightmares. Oliver left his life of magic behind until he came into contact with a member of The Hollow disguised as a superhero. With his flame for vengeance reignited, Oliver set out on a one-man crusade to kill the remaining sorcerers. Little does he know the great evil he’s afraid of is much closer than he realizes.

Vanish prepares to fightImage: Image Comics

Dark Times Are Coming

For better and for worse, the Vanish series is a throwback to the late 90s era of Image Comics. It wears its dark visuals, gratuitous violence, and edgy dialogue on its sleeve to complete the vibe that was very popular at the time. While comics from that era are hit or miss for many people, Vanish stands out by being unafraid of leaning into the specific brand of edginess it is going for. Where some comics would parody late 90s comics, Vanish is an unabashed tribute to them. It’s a popcorn flick in comic book form.

The story of Vanish made it very clear early on that Oliver is no cookie-cutter hero by any stretch of the imagination. He just wants to kill The Hollow by any means necessary and as violently as possible. Issue #7 builds on the repercussions of Oliver’s violent actions, revealing subtle details about Vanish’s inner workings in the story. With the spirit of Vanish seeping his claws deeper into Oliver’s mind, it begs the question if these violent outbursts were ever in Oliver’s true nature or just the result of some dark corruption. Whichever the case may be, the writing splattered all over the walls points that things will only get worse for our masked “hero” from here. Cates and Stegman have done a great job building up both the internal and external conflicts tearing away at Oliver’s humanity. 

A big explosionImage: Image Comics

Final Thoughts 

Vanish is not for everybody, and it is happy being that way. It’s a comic that’s unapologetic in its tone and unafraid of being dark, bloody, and in-your-face. While the comic does not fit my particular taste, I can appreciate the creative direction Donny Cates, Ryan Stegman, and artist V. Ken Marion are going for. Vanish succeeds in giving you an adrenaline rush as you flip through its pages. For the ones who’ve stayed on for the ride, things are only going to get crazier from here.

TAGGED: Image Comics, Reviews