The end of the journey
Seemingly, this is the end for High Level as it “completes” its series. This isn’t quite a review but more of a personal commentary of what I think transpired in this title. The story wraps and ends with an opening to continue, as indicated by the designation “End Book One.” All told, this was not a very satisfying end to this series.
From the launch of this title and how it was structured, this appeared to be set up as one of the newly relaunched Vertigo imprint’s juggernauts. The book included a map at the end of each issue to chronicle the journey of the main characters, implying a long journey ahead [ aka, a lengthy run for the series ]. This did not come to pass, as shortly after the first issue was launched, DC announced that multiple imprints were being shuttered, including Vertigo. That announcement could be felt in each subsequent issue as the journey of these characters seemingly accelerated, with them covering more and more ground more quickly than it felt like they should. Their quick progress wasn’t quite earned. It’s my conjecture that Rob Sheridan had to shortcut through much of the story to try to wrap it up in six issues. As a result, the story suffered. Plot twists, emotional beat points, and the climax felt cheap and confusing. The moments that should have landed with a heavier emotional punch didn’t because we were shorted as an audience on this journey.
Since this ended with an implication that a Book Two could occur, I really hope it happens. Sheridan did some great world building. Barnaby Bagenda and Romulo Fajardo Jr’s art was wonderful to look at, giving us something vastly different to see than a lot of what is out there on the stands. I want to see High Level done right. Maybe they can reboot under DC with a Black Label spin. Maybe they can take their story to another publisher. Either way, there were a lot of great concepts here that simply didn’t get the time to breathe with the implosion of Vertigo. I will always wonder what could have been.