The creator-owned comic book from Michael Avon Oeming gets the collected treatment from Dark Horse Comics in September.
In some ways the series was almost prophetic. Conspiracy theories, drones flying overhead, and a designer drug nicknamed Float run rampant in a city where superhero group The Victories wage a war on crime and corruption in the pages of Michael Avon Oeming’s “The Victories.”
Published by Dark Horse Comics, the creator-owned comic book debuted in 2012 as a five-issue limited series, featuring Faustus, a member of The Victories who may remind you, at first, of a certain caped crusader from Gotham City. The comic was later picked up as an ongoing book, and a few additional story arcs were published before Oeming, the Eisner Award-winning co-creator of “Powers,” drew the title to a close in 2014.
“It really is one large story. I think it’s best read that way as well,” Oeming said of his creation, which he began writing and drawing in 2011. “It all ties into one large story."
Staff at Dark Horse must agree with Oeming, because the Oregon-based publisher is releasing an omnibus collecting all 20 issues of “The Victories,” this September, plus extras that appeared in “Dark Horse Presents." The soft-cover collection, which costs $29.99, is 576 pages and printed in full color. With story and art by Oeming, colors by Nick Filardi and lettering from Aaron Walker, the omnibus presents the issues as they originally came out, without changes or remastering, according to Oeming.
When he created the book, Oeming was going through a chaotic period in his life. He cited moving from New Jersey to Oregon, trying to be a bicoastal father, and working a full-time job, in addition to making comics on the side as being a challenge. During this time, he had also been going through therapy.
“This all kind of spiraled out of therapy that I was going to,” Oeming told me. “As I was going through therapy, one of the things that the therapist was talking about was my constant need to draw — that it was obviously like a control mechanism.”
So he started making a new comic book. Oeming wasn’t sure if his new series would catch on with readers, so like most experienced comic pros he made sure to tell a complete story with his initial limited series while making sure to plant additional story lines and ideas, in case the comic would bud into something bigger.
“When I created ‘The Victories’, the very first arc, the very first story, was really just going to be dealing with my issue, and fleshing that out, and planting story ideas in case we get to do more than just that first initial five issues,” Oeming said. “When you read those five issues, it’s very focused on Faustus, and making a deal with the devil, and finding some kind of center to himself, because he’s spiraling in self-hate and darkness at the beginning of it.”
Indeed, those first issues set a very dark and mature tone. Looking back, Oeming mentioned he'd probably do some things differently if he were making the comic today instead of 10 years ago. He cited the lack of humor contained in those early issues as an example of something he’d approach differently. There were also fringe topics and conspiracy theories he wanted to delve into, ideas that are much more prevalent and mainstream now than they were in 2012.
“Conspiracies seem to be the manifestation of society’s anxieties,” Oeming said.
He stated “The Victories” does have an ending that gives each character a resolution but that he hasn’t ruled out one day returning to the world he created.
“It ends in a kind of definitive way, but it also opens up a lot so there’s chances to go back,” Oeming said of potentially revisiting the comic. “At the time, the conspiracy stuff, none of it was a warning. These were just weird things that are like free stories out there that I wanted to explore, like modern folklore, an extension of our thinking.”
He added: “I don’t want to say ‘The Victories’ was a warning at all about conspiracies coming up in society, but I definitely tapped into something and it was kind of gross to watch it really start to happen.”
Ultimately, “The Victories” served as a creative outlet during a turbulent period in Oeming’s life. And, thanks to this new omnibus, there’s an opportunity for new readers to discover this strange world that probably won’t seem as unreal as it did when the issues were first were being sold in the direct market.
“It’s about the characters,” Oeming said. “The characters are flawed, but they’re not meant to be flawed in some way that is endlessly dark, despite the way it starts. The characters all come to some sort of resolution with themselves, whether it’s they become a better person, or simply that they become at peace with who they are. It’s a deep dive into people dealing with problems.”
Tap here for preordering information about the forthcoming “The Victories” omnibus.