The cover to my copy of Vescell #1

Few times does one find a comic that so well encompasses the tropes that I love. Vescell #1 does an amazing job of rounding them up and incorporating them into a very interesting and legitimate package that rises above expectations. As usual: SPOILERS.

The comic starts with Agent Mauricio “Moo” Barrino speaking with an Elena Carostein, who has just had her mind transferred into a much younger body and is adjusting. Part of that adjustment process is asking for sex to acclimate herself to the vigor and needs of youth.

We flash back the day before as Agent Barrino’s arrives for Mrs. Carostein, in her older original body. She talks about the greed of her husband and the years of avoiding the paparazzi, and the whole process gives us insight on how Barrino’s days are supposed to go down. He’s a pick-up man for the company Vescell; Barrino’s employers are paid by their clients to swap them from one living body to another. Their reasons vary, but Moo’s job is to make sure they get from pick-up to operation. Once Mrs. Carostein gets to Vescell we see some insight on how new bodies are chosen – or selected.

After finishing up with Carostein we watch as Barrino gets a hooker, goes to a hotel, asks for a lock of her hair, and burns it in a ritual. This process causes the skinny short-haired brunette prostitute to transform – over six panels – into Barrino’s much more voluptuous long-haired redheaded girlfriend. It’s a great sequence, and Avery’s reaction to taking over yet another prostitutes body – “Eeewyuck!” – is priceless.

Turns out that Avery – for reasons still unknown to the audience – is trapped in Hell (or Banerealm as it is known as colloquially in this series), and this is the only way for her to take on physical form in order to “be with” Barrino for any short stretch of time.

After the afternoon delight Moo meets up with the Bastanis, a married couple who are having their minds switched into each other’s bodies because Mr. Bastani is “…a man, who wants to be a woman, who wants to make love, to a man.” Mrs. Bastanis is “…just a wife who wants to make my husband happy.” Barrino warns against this reason for a transfer, but a job’s a job and gets them into his car.

Turns out Mr. Bastani is the son of a mob boss, who would rather see his son dead than a woman. A group of men in two other cars fire on Barrino’s vehicle. He hands Mrs. Bastani a strange silver glove, which wraps around her hand like a second skin and allows her to blow up one of the cars. Barrino pulls out his own fire-arm, but it doesn’t fire because the ammo is asleep.

Machi – Barrino’s fairy sidekick/roommate – wakes up and charges up the gun and the second vehicle is destroyed. Mrs. Bastani fist-bumps her husband in the arm, having enjoyed the experience, but he is simply irritated.

At Vescell Agent Barrino is in Mrs. Bastani’s prep room still trying to gently coax her out of the decision. She’s made up her mind though, willing to sacrifice herself for love, and convinces Barrino to help her with her “…last chance to be with a man as a woman.”

Part II (literally sectioned off from the previous pages by a giant Vescell icon) starts with a man named Mr. Gibron sitting on a bed within a house of ill-repute. He informs the house marm that he wants to suck a man’s cock, and will wait until a willing party shows up. A little while later a man called Richard arrives. Things seem to be going well until Gibron realizes Richard is a machine and has been video taping the event with cameras in his eyes.

Gibron runs down the hall while security is summoned (causing a number of patrons, including fully-shown topless women, to come out of the rooms to see what the ruckus is), but Richard – real name Batan – makes short work of the interference. Batan informs Gibron that the company Cybercan knows he has made an appointment at Vescell, but that it should be cancelled. If he does not show up at Cybercan – Batan’s employer and Vescell’s rival – the next day so they can create a duplicate of him to insert into the company he works for, the tape of his fellatio will be released – which will destroy his wife and children.

The next day we catch up with Barrino who is saying goodbye do another hooker who recently played host to Avery. We also discover that Avery is able to appear to Barrino and some magic-touched individuals as an apparition, but she can’t interact with anything and it takes some effort. She chastises Barrino for not having yet found a way to permanently channel her back to this realm. Their conversation is interrupted by a call to come into the office, and Barrino and Machi head out.

Turns out that not only is Barrino’s mission to go get Gibron, but he’s explicitly ordered to destroy Batan as well. Turns out picking up Gibron might be the hard part, however, as he’s cleaned out his desk, pushed aside his male co-worker lover, and jumped in a cab. There he encounters some sort of demon. The creature offers Gibron a solution – let his employer borrow Gibron’s soul for a bit and all the problems will go away. The terrified human takes the box he’s offered and leaves.

Meanwhile, Barrino attempts to snipe Batan but misses. Agent Moo gets thrown around a bit until Machi is able to go human-sized and blasts Batan in the head. They leave for Gibron’s house to find that he has become mindlessly-possessed by some sort of puppet curse. They attempt to undo what’s been done but Machi realizes that the curse can only be undone from Banerealm. Avery’s spirit appears and confirms that, offering to take care of the problem from her side if Barrino promises to take her to Vegas. He reveals he had already made such plans.

In Banrealm a giant crow lands on a floating island with a spooky house, regurgitates an egg which hatches into Avery dressed in a 50’s house dress, and then flies away. Avery enters the house and tricks the young-looking demon into eating poisoned food. She releases Gibron from the curse and Barrino and Machi race him straight to Vescell.

The issue ends with Barrino and a hooker-possessed Avery enjoying their time in Vegas, and a poem encompasses Agent Moo’s feelings for his lover.

THE FINAL VERDICT: Holly crud, just…just buy this.

IMAGE, Enrique Carrion, and John Upchurch have created an amazing comic. And I’m not just saying that because it includes breast expansion, ass expansion, shrunken/growing woman, age regression, hair growth, metal second-skin, fairies, mind-swap, and actual toplessness among other tropes. No, this is actually a good story coupled with luscious and sensual art. The characters are interesting, the mythology is intriguing, and the intrigue is understandable. And I couldn’t even fit commentary on everything that happened because my review would have been too long; yeah, there’s more stuff going on in the comic than I related.

I won’t call this comic perfect only because I had to read it twice before I was certain I really understood everything. I mean, you can’t skip a single word. This includes the text in the beginning which explains why someone can have a fairy sidekick, as well as the page-long poem at the end of the book. But understand that it’s not perfect because it is practically perfect; I got tripped up because of how well everything really does fit together once you slow down and pay attention to it all.

I don’t think I really have all that much more to say. I loved Issue #1 and cannot wait to go pick up Issue #2 tomorrow. If this book can keep the same creative team at the same quality, I think we transformation fans will have a new benchmark for quality mass-produced series.

And comic fans will have another excellent read.