Vertigo Comics has deep roots in the crime genre, with books like 100 Bullets, Scalped, and The Sheriff Of Babylon delivering tense, complex stories about moral sacrifice and tragic attempts at redemption. American Carnage is the primary crime representative in the current Vertigo revival, and it has narrative ties to a former Vertigo crime series, Incognegro, which featured a light-skinned black man infiltrating communities of white supremacists in the 1930s. (Incognegro was reprinted by Dark Horse’s Berger Books imprint and received a sequel miniseries earlier this year.)
Where American Carnage differs from Incognegro and stories like BlacKkKlansman is that it’s set in the present, exploring the current fraught political moment as it follows a black former FBI agent who enters the lion’s den as retribution for killing an unarmed black youth. Written by Bryan Edward Hill with art by Leandro Fernandez and colorist Dean White, American Carnage is a riveting story about the hypocrisy of powerful public figures and one man who tries to assuage his guilt by uncovering the depths of injustice bankrolled by this corruption.
This exclusive preview of next week’s American Carnage #2 has Richard Wright getting his first look at the “real America” as he enters a backyard filled with heavily armed white men drunkenly brawling in front of a burning cross. It’s a striking image from Fernandez and White, overflowing with violent energy that accentuates the danger of Richard’s undercover mission. Fernandez’s use of shadows is especially effective at positioning philanthropist Wynn Morgan as a devious character whose motivations are unknowable to anyone but himself, and keeping his face dark while a red fire burns behind him gives him a devilish vibe. White’s coloring is flatter here than his usual work, an artistic choice that heightens the impact of Fernandez’s stark, high-contrast linework.