I thought I’d get my review of VESCELL #2 posted to get everyone pumped for the release of Issue #3 today!

The cover to my copy of Vescell #2

As usual – SPOILERS!

VESCELL #2 starts out with a stand-alone mission for Agent Moo. Entitled “Little Miss Hurt This,” we first see Kim, a short, curvy, goth high school brunette, telling her secret quarterback boyfriend – who is her skinny, blond, popular sister Ally’s public boyfriend – that she’s arranged an illegal mindswap. All the two of them have to do is sedate her sister and get her to a couple Vescell employees who have gone rogue. The preppy football player loves the idea of Kim’s mind in her hotter sister’s body, but is concerned that Kim will lose her generally secret telekinesis – which has apparently made the sex really good – and Kim tells him not to worry about it.

Now we catch up with Moo and Machi, who have been enjoying a night out on the town. We learn that they love each other deeply, but that if they ever have sex Machi will lose her wings and fairy abilities…which is out of the question. There’s a funny moment where Machi wakes up in a panic when she can’t feel her wings…because she slept on them and they went numb.

Moo is called up by his bosses to find a couple Vescell techs who have “quit” – which is hard to do when you’re a Vescell employee for life. In order to protect Vescell corporate secrets Moo is told to make sure that the termination of the employees’ employment syncs up with the termination of their lives. Moo and Machi head to a small town outside of Icarus City where the sheriff is of no help, but a waitress at the local diner is only too happy to give out the address for some new residents who keep ordering pies for delivery.

Meanwhile, Kim and the quarterback (if he’s ever named it’s inconsequential) succeed in drugging Ally and getting her to the rogue Vescell employees. But as the swap begins Moo and Machi show up. The process is done with haste, and Kim, the quarterback – dragging Ally in her new body so Kim can personally have the pleasure of killing her sister – and the surviving ex-Vescell tech take off in a car. Moo and Machi are right behind them.

In the backseat Ally wakes up confused and disoriented. Her sister is only too happy to explain what is going on so Ally can fully understand her situation…so that when Kim strangles her to death the satisfaction will be all the more sweet. Even the quarterback gets in on the taunting until the ex-Vescell tech tells him to use a stowed gun to shoot at the pursuing Moo. This is a bad idea, as Ally and Kim watch his head get blown off.

Enraged by her boyfriend’s death, Kim joyfully starts strangling her sister. As Ally watches her own sibling – in her own body – begin killing her with such glee the former blond slowly starts to realize everything she’s done to make herself so horrible and push her sister to this state. This self-realization activates Kim’s telekinesis – which hadn’t been transferred because of the rushed job. Ally apologizes to her sister before ejecting her from the backseat – where the conniving girl is killed when another car hits her.

Seeing what’s happened Moo has Machi pull up alongside the other vehicle, where he helps Ally transfer between automobiles. Machi then gleefully blows up the other car and remaining ex-Vescell tech. The mission ends with Moo holding Ally, telling her “Everything is gonna by okay.”

Good luck seeing that promise through, Agent.

The second part of Vescell Issue #2, called “A K.A.T.I. Story,” is the better of two great tales. It starts with the pregnant Doctor Rebecca Stewart arriving to work. She greets the supercomputer A.I. named KATI and inquires if her husband, Dr. John Stewart, has arrived to work early. KATI affirms this, but is reluctant to pull up the security footage that Rebecca requests. It turns out that Rebecca has been teaching KATI about love, friendship, and loyalty, and the A.I. doesn’t want her friend to be upset when she sees what John Stewart is doing with a Jen Richards.

KATI eventually complies to Rebecca’s requests, and when the pregnant woman’s fears of an affair are confirmed she pulls out a gun to rectify the situation. KATI says she’ll have to call security but Rebecca manipulates the A.I.’s understanding of friendship, loyalty, and betrayal and KATI abstains. But that doesn’t mean the actual security guards don’t see Rebecca blow a hole through Jen Richards’ shoulder. They burst into the lab, and before Rebecca is able to kill either of the adulterers she is shot dead.

KATI acts quickly, and is able to get the automated medics to save the baby. Eight years later that baby has grown into a little girl named Mary, raised by John and (the unenthusiastic) Jen. The little girl knows that her real mother is gone and has KATI play for her videos of Rebecca speaking to her in the womb. During Mary’s latest visit something she says triggers the sort of logic ladder only computers are capable of, and KATI comes to the conclusion that the best thing for Mary would be to create a clone body of Rebecca and inhabit it so she may care for Mary as a true mother. Creating the blank-minded body is no problem…but KATI needs Vescell to move her artificial mind into the organic form.

Cue Moo, who is in the process of cooking Machi her dinner when he gets the call from his boss. It isn’t until he shows up at KATI’s lab to do a risk assessment that any agent of Vescell becomes aware that KATI is an A.I. – apparently the Alithean Church has deemed artificial intelligence an abomination and the attempt to do what KATI has requested is not only a high sin but also very illegal. Moo shares this opinion with the church and the law, and when KATI can not sweet talk him into approving the mind transfer she goes a different route – she claims that she has information on the “Sabrosa Incident.” This is apparently the last time Moo’s Hell-banished girlfriend Avery was on the Earthly plane, and Moo is tempted at the prospect of information that could help reverse her situation. But he ultimately decides it’s not worth the risk, turning down KATI and filing his report of rejection.

However, it seems that the more shadowy parts of Vescell think seeing through KATI’s request would give them a powerful weapon, and a British Vescell black-ops agent named Baron Cisero is brought in to do the job Moo rejected.

Later that evening Moo finds out that an ex-girlfriend of his is in town, and that means trouble. He tracks down Artaya and trades his excellent sexual talents for information; turns out Cisero’s mission has been leaked, and the Alithean Church hired Artaya to assassinate him. When she also reveals to Moo that Cisero was involved with the “Sabrosa Incident” he leaves to find Cisero before Artaya can kill him.

Cisero isn’t stupid, and is aware that there are those who will try and stop him. He summons three demons to track down any potential interlopers, and soon after Moo leaves a large suit of armor with a big eye on the top crashes into Artaya’s hotel room.

Artaya is quite resourceful, and stabs the demon in the eye with a rabbit (and not the white fluffy kind). When he heals from that she uses her tattoos to turn first into a tiger, and then into a five-headed dragon that burns the demon to a crisp. Realizing they could both use some back-up at the moment Artaya calls Moo and they agree to team up.

In the professional sense.

THE FINAL VERDICT: Another great issue, I certainly reccomend it.

Looking at the issue simply as a fan of graphic novels and great storytelling, VESCELL #2 continues to satisfy. The stories are dramatic, funny, tragic, and interesting, the characters are characters, the art is great, and the larger world of VESCELL is rounding out nicely. I’m a big fan of what seems to be the “open with a small self-contained story and then end with one that more-so works into the multi-issue story arch” pattern that I think I see developing. It’s a great way to make each issue satisfying on its own, while setting up reasons to want to keep reading. And as usual, don’t think everything I described above is everything in the comic; once again I had to leave out some really great moments to keep this under 2,000 words.

I’d say the only imperfections with the issue are that some of the noir-ish narration in the first adventure started to get overdone, and some of the expansive dialogue near the end of the second part seemed forced. I just want to give a note to Mr. Carrion; we’ll forgive a poor metaphor you opt not to use, but we’ll notice one you try to force into working. The noir style makes Vescell a fun read, but don’t try too hard and end up like a whore in a hot tub; in over your head.

See? Like that – don’t do that.

On the transformation front there wasn’t as much directly illustrated as #1, but still a worthy issue. Of course, mind swap can only be visually represented so far, but it was done well. We also only get fleeting indications of when Artaya’s transformations to tiger start and end, moving from mostly fully human woman, to tiger, and back again between panels. Regarding miscellany, one of the three demons seems to be a woman with only one eye, and for fans of foot massages and tickling there are moments as well. And of course, the general presence of the size-changing fairy Machi (who has some absolutely hilarious lines I won’t spoil here). And if you’re interested in just plain female toplessness there are a few panels near the end of the sassy Artaya you may want to look for.

So, like Issue #1, VESCELL #2 falls short of being perfect, but damn, it’s much closer to that lofty goal than many other comics out there. I absolutely recommend you go pick it up.