Written by Steve Orlando
Art by JD Faith
Steve Orlando first caught my eye with his excellent Image series Undertow, and has since become a bit of a sensation at DC, with his Justice League of America launching soon (although I much prefer his excellent Boom! title Namesake). I felt like it was time to check out what I think was his debut graphic novel, Virgil.
This is a pretty impressive book. It's set in Jamaica, and centres on Virgil, a police officer in Kingston who hides the fact that he's gay from everyone in his massively homophobic environment. He has a boyfriend, Ervan, but they aren't able to spend much time together, and have to live completely in secret.
When Virgil's secret comes out, he is assaulted by his coworkers, and his lover is taken away. What follows is a pretty bloody revenge story, which Orlando described as pure "queersploitation".
What really makes this book stand out is the way in which Virgil disproves or runs counter to just about every common stereotype we see portrayed in just about every form of media. I thought that the decision to set this book in Jamaica makes it feel unique, although it also makes it easy for a North American audience to avoid examining its own entrenched and systemic homophobia. At the same time, it makes the story more vivid and believable.
JD Faith's art works very well with this book, and the entire package is a very satisfying read. Orlando and Faith are both up-and-coming talents that people need to keep an eye on. Good stuff.