Sometimes comics are like Vegas. Sometimes you just have to take a gamble that a book is going to deliver strong on a story arc that starts slow. That’s the roll of the dice you’ll be taking with The Vault, a new three-issue mini-series from Image Comics. The reason I claim The Vault as a gamble is because the inaugural issue is not a very exciting comic book read. There’s a lot of set up and more than a usual amount of science, especially for a book that kicks off with a war between angels and demons. For me, the whole idea of the end-of-the-world via Heaven and Hell has been rather played out. However, I like the deep-sea aspect of The Vault, so I’m holding out hope. Like I said, it’s a gamble.
After two pages showing the massive battle between spear-toting angels and clawed demons, we’re whisked to the modern day where a team of scientists is attempting to break the curse of an area called Oak Island. Apparently, this land mass has a legacy of dragging treasure hunters to their deaths and these scientists are trying to find what they were all looking for. The set-up here is kind of adventure-movie cliché. There’s the standard “new investor” scenario where a money man comes in to help the team with the last bit of their dig but, as always, demands a bigger share. We also have the team incredibly close to getting what they want, but a terrible storm is on the horizon. Finally, when it seems that all is lost, the team finds an extra special chamber at the bottom of the island which holds something incredibly bizarre. In this case, the skeletal remains of either an angel or a demon.
These cliché aspects aside, there are some nice mystery elements that keep The Vault from sinking under the weight of it’s own overly-scientific story. First, there’s the enigma of who created the elaborate “vault” so far beneath the sea and how that ties in with the war between the demons and angels. It’s also very vague where the story is going and how all the elements will tie up together. The Vault could end up being a story that rises above it’s slow first issue and becomes one of those series that people talk about. It could also end up being three issues that go nowhere. The first issue sets puts the pieces into play but isn’t spectacular or awful enough to dictate any direction. If you buy the remaining issues, you’re taking the gamble.
The art is another thing that hampers the development of The Vault. With such a heavy story and so little action, the art should be leaping off the page. The characters should be pronounced and what motion exists should be exciting. Instead the art blends the characters into one faceless “team” and does nothing to give life to the script. Grabbing a reader with an opening issue is important and The Vault fails to do that. That being said, there is enough going on within its pages to make taking a risk with this new series something to think about.
CRAVEONLINE RATING: 5/10