Totems is that rare beast, that rears its head up every once in a blue moon, the Vertigo Crossover. This book was published under Vertigo's short lived run of books celebrating the new millennium, branded 'V2K' (like Y2K, geddit?) and focuses on John Constantine's New Year's Eve bash. Being John, its got quite the guest list, and being John, it doesn't exactly go as planned. At the party we have Swamp Thing, Black Orchid, Doom Patrol's Robot Man, Shade: The Changing Man, Animal Man and Zatanna of Justice League fame. Zatanna's an interesting addition, because back when this was published they were still flirting with the idea of her being a Vertigo character, so she occasionally popped up in things like Hellblazer swearing like a person and on one occasion smoking a bit of pot. Obviously this wouldn't happen nowadays, because as a mainstream DC Universe character she should be doing wholesome things like mind raping people, vomiting blood, getting zombified and tearing out people’s hearts, snapping necks or rape-raping people, not having a normal sex life with a comparatively normal bloke using recreational drugs and swearing occasionally. That'd be sick! But that is now and this was then, so here we have the pleasure of this little exchange:
One thing I love about this story is that, having gathered this merry band together, John proceeds to puke all over himself and pass out like a true British hero. We salute ye John. Anyway with John out of the picture the rest of the motley crew of 'heroes' with the addition of some odd waiter bloke have to sort out whatever the shit is going on with the bizarre new world they are faced with. I thoroughly enjoyed this, the characters interacted believably and entertainingly and Duncan Fegredo and Richard Case really sell the madness of the tale, both in the mundane and fantastical elements on display. This story does feel dated in that it focuses on conspiracy theories, Y2K and the sense of impending dread coming with the new millennium that turned out to be total bollocks, shockingly enough, but without giving too much away, that’s kind of the point of it so it works well. One thing that really does need mentioning is how much this book screams out Vertigo. The characters, the art, the story, the dialogue, the mood, every little bit of this is 90s Vertigo, but strangely enough it also feels like a typical superhero team up too, the McGuffin could work equally well as a trad superhero annual or something, it’s a surprising dichotomy.
Get it, it’s good!