By Magdalene Visaggio, Jason Smith, Harry Saxon, Zakk Saan
Elida, the lead character of Vagrant Queen #1, is a rebel who used to be a princess. In this first issue from the sci-fi publisher, Vault, writer Magdalene Visaggio introduces her as a witty rogue, unconcerned with larger problems. Elida is a fun character to be around, thanks to Visaggio’s dialogue. It flows well and feels natural because she’s written to talk like people do now. Visually, Jason Smith and Harry Saxon support what the book aims to be about. From the get go, Saxon’s colors are bright, and pop against the blackness of space. Smith’s illustrations present stylized figures and delightfully grungy environments, perfect for a girl like Elida. Vagrant Queen #1 does a lot in service its main character, and it works.
When we first meet Elida, she’s taking care of business. We see some alien characters, and their designs illustrate the limitlessness of the sci-fi world Visaggio invites us into. Smith’s illustrations throughout live up to that promise, and even give the book a bit of whimsy. Xija station, the area most of the story takes place in, is home to robots with moustaches, beefy birdmen, and little green men alike. Smith and Saxon take care to make Xija feel lived in, so in each scene there are other characters living out their lives; talking, drinking, or watching. When it comes to figures, Smith has a unique style. Characters are somewhat blocky and angular. Similarly, Saxon’s colors have a bit of a chalky texture. They both have styles that differentiate themselves from what’s popular.
It should be noted, though, that a few scenes are rigid. An action scene, and a bar scene show characters locked into place when they should be flying off of the page. These specifically seem out of place amongst the otherwise energetic tone of the issue.
Elida herself helps etch these moments out. When an illustration is stuck in the panel, she brings a dynamic element to the scene thanks to her voice. Visaggio writes her using modern vernacular, and phrases you’d commonly see on social media or in text. It works surprisingly well, likely because we’re so accustomed to reading like this. By the end of the issue, readers are acquainted with her and ready to see where she goes next. She’s presented with small conflicts throughout issue #1 that act like character litmus tests. We quickly learn about her past, as well as how she likes to handle given situations.
Vagrant Queen #1 is a solid first issue from a solid team. Though the artwork fluctuates, the lead character keeps the book on course. We see a girl who lost her royalty and hasn’t looked back until this story begins. It’s well told, and well illustrated, thanks to the team of Visaggio, Smith, and Saxon, with letters from Zakk Saan. This debut is another solid entry in Vault’s lineup of sci-fi books.