Writer: Steve Orlando
Artist: JD Faith
Colourist: Chris Beckett
Letterer: Thomas Mauer
Originally a Kickstarter backed book, Virgil is the latest offering from writer Steve Orlando (Midnighter, Undertow) and artist JD Faith (The Pride Adventures, San Hannibal) telling the story of Virgil, a closeted gay police officer who tears his way across his town after homophobic cops out him, beat him and kidnap his boyfriend, Ervan. The book opens up in Kingston, Jamaica as we see Virgil in his public police persona, chasing down drug dealers, celebrating with his squad mates and visiting a brothel with his childhood friend, Omar. The scene where Virgil and his squad celebrate the capture of drug dealers is tonally important as through dialog the reader learns of a father hanging his son after he finds out that the son is gay. These first few pages is establishing the setting and the rampant homophobia that exists within Jamaica and especially within Virgil’s police officer’s squad.
A few pages later we see Virgil coming home to Ervan waiting for him. Through a post-coital conversation between the two, we see the aching desire that both of them have to save up enough money to move to Toronto, where they can be safe. Later, after a slip-up leads to Virgil’s police precinct to launch a vicious attack against Virgil, Ervan at a dinner party they were throwing for their fellow queer friends. Virgil is beaten and left for dead and Ervan is captured. After waking up underneath a pile of his dead friends, Virgil goes after Ervan, leaving bodies in his wake.
The writing by Orlando is exquisite, first introducing Virgil as a morally grey character, not above doing bad things for good reasons and then when he has everything ripped away from him, giving the protagonist a singular purpose and determination to rescue who he loves. Orlando’s skills are extremely prevalent during flashback scenes, giving us backstory and context for Virgil and Ervan’s relationship and giving the readers reason to feel for Virgil. Faith’s art and Chris Beckett’s colours fit the story extremely well with a unique blocky style and bright and vibrant colour. In my opinion, the scenes where both the colour and the line art work perfect are the flashback scenes, with the art showing off body language of the characters involved and the pink and blue colouring shows the readers of a wonderful and heartfelt moment between Virgil and Ervan, before flowing into a dark, violent fight at the police station.
Virgil is a blood-splattered neon journey of awesomeness that redefines the bad-ass and is a brilliant start to a new genre.