Written by Steve Orlando
Art by JD Faith
Colors by Chris Beckett
Letters by Thomas Mauer
Cover by Artyom Trakhanov
Published by Image Comics
Virgil’s marketing description had me at “queersploitation.” I’m a casual buff of exploitation film history and genre–see Bitch Planet’s upending of the women-in-prison exploitation tropes–and thought Virgil bringing the genre to issues of queerness was an apt marriage for 2015. The comic is executed with a sincere and serious commitment to its parent genre and sensitivity to the subject matter, but lacks the campy sense of fun that many contemporary exploitation texts have.
The opening pages establish the grim, unforgiving atmosphere of Kingston, Jamaica. This is a city of drug lords, street gangs, police violence, and homophobia. Virgil is a man of this setting, a cop full of violent and sexualized bravado, or so he’d have his fellow officers and community believe. He’s a hero on the force for standing up to “King Bandulu,” the drug kingpin of the neighborhood.
This Virgil is not the real Virgil, a man who comes out in the company of Ervan, his beloved. The two must meet only in secret, keeping their time together quite literally in the dark. Ervan is a loving and supportive partner, and their relationship is portrayed as both sweet and sexy. The two dream of moving to Toronto, Canada, where they can be together in the open without the threat of violence. Virgil and Ervan are closeted homosexuals living in a city where the police will hang a gay teen at a father’s request. They are living under a dangerous lie.
Read the rest of my review by clicking through to PopOptiq!