Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Comic Book Review: DC Comics' I, Vampire

Well, eventually I'd get around to profiling something that might interest all the vampire fans out there. I had no idea it would be a re-imaging of a late-seventies vampire comic book.

I didn't really have high hopes for the I, Vampire title when I saw it in the listings as one of DC Comics' "New 52" revamped comic books. I was sort of assuming it was just going to capitalize on Twilight and all the sparkly vampires that are so popular nowadays. I also held off on doing anything more than just paging through them until the first story arc was complete. After six issues, the story is still on-going, and leading into the series' first crossover (with Justice League Dark), so I decided to sit down tonight and read the series. It turned out to be a pleasant surprise.

For neophytes and non-fans, I, Vampire was originally a back-up series featured in House of Mystery. It told the story of Andrew Bennett, an English nobleman who was turned into a vampire over 400 years ago. Instead of allowing the passions and power of being a vampire to overcome him, Bennett instead only killed animals for blood and strove to just live what remnant of his life he could. The turning point in his story came when he transformed his beloved Mary into a vampire, so they could live together forever. Unfortunately, Mary succumbed to the lure of the power being a vampire offered and started a society of the undead known as the Blood Red Moon, becoming known as the Queen of Blood. Bennett was horrified by what he did, and swore to kill Mary and all of her followers. At the end of the series, which also featured a team-up with Batman in the pages of Brave and the Bold, one of Bennett's assistants was able to kill Mary, allowing Bennett's spirit to finally rest.

This new series is apparently close to the original in plot, but with definite stylistic and artistic differences. Bennett is still striving to kill Mary, who has plans to become the ruler of the planet and use the human population as cattle. Bennett has a professor friend who is also a vampire hunter (after Bennett saved his life), and they are later joined by a young girl who was seeking vengeance on all vampires for the death of her mother and father. The series begins in modern day Boston and heads out for Gotham City, firmly establishing the continuity in the newly-rebooted DC Universe.

The comic book is presented in a very cinematic manner. It reminds me of The Last Man on Earth in the way the world around the vampires is a very drab and grey world. Few bright colors are used, with a preponderence of greys, blacks, whites and of course reds dimly illuminating the landscapes of I, Vampire. The vampires themselves, at least the older ones, are the vampires of popular legend, turning into wolves, mists and bats. Sunlight doesn't kill these vampires; though it does removes most of their powers. The only thing that does is a stake through the heart, followed by a quick decapitation. This isn't Bela Lugosi, but it also, thankfully, isn't Twilight.

The story skillfully uses flashbacks to give us the information we need to know why things are happening. It features some very intricate page layouts, but is surprisingly easy to follow. The artwork is realistic, but the coloring and harsh shading gives it a Expressionist lean, much like the films Nosferatu and The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari.  The book is a very interesting read, somewhat reminiscent of the original 30 Days of Night series. I'm not the biggest vampire fan, but the way this book has been re-imagined makes me want to keep reading it. So far, I can only say that of about a quarter of the "New 52" series.

I, Vampire #6 was a "prelude" to the crossover with Justice League Dark, and apparently will feature the Batman as well, since he was a guest star in the last two issues of this series. Considering Andrew Bennett met John Constantine a few issues earlier, I have to say that I'm looking forward to the "Rise of the Vampires" story line.

If you haven't already tried reading an issue of I, Vampire, I'd recommend giving it a try, especially if you are a modern horror or vampire fan. It might give you a little insight into the proper way vampires should be handled. Which is primarily sparkle-free.


by Rich Meyer

This is my tenth e-book quiz book and is another journey into those jerkily-moving memories we all have of early Saturday mornings with a bowl of cereal in front of the TV set. 

This e-book quiz book contains 301 easily navigable questions (and answers) on a whole mess o' cartoons! The Pink Panther, Scooby-Doo, Super Friends, the Flintstones, the Jetsons, Bugs Bunny, Voltron, and probably one of your favorites, too - there's probably a trivia question about it in this e-book! 

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