Or – “Titles With Commas Are Harder To Alphabetize…”

Part of me wanted to dismiss this book as nothing more than an attempt to cash in on the post-Twilight vampire proliferation, but then I remember how good the original run of “I, Vampire” was back in the day.  To put this in perspective:  With the sole exception of the issue featuring ‘The Poster Plague,’ I do NOT own an issue of House of Mystery that doesn’t feature I, Vampire or Dial H For Hero (and those Dial H issues are usually too spendy for my comic spending habits.)

I, VAMPIRE #1
Writer: Joshua Hale Fialkov
Artist: Andrea Sorrentino
Colorist: Marcelo Maiolo
Letterer: Pat Brosseau
Editor: Matt Idelson
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: $2.99

Previously in I, Vampire:  Andrew Bennett was bitten by a vampire in the sixteenth century, but swore not to give in to his curse and become a monster who feasted on his own people.  Sadly, his lover, Mary Seward did not share his restraint, and convinced Andrew to bite and infect her so that they might live forever, together.  Once bitten, Mary went ‘el bonzo seco,’ founded an evil society, killed hundreds of thousands, and just basically acted like a blood-sucking freak.  Of course, that was all back in the 80’s, before even the original Crisis, so we can’t really say what, if any, of that carries over to this series.

DUAL TIME-FRAMES DONE WELL…

The very first page of this issue sets the tone for everything we’re going to see, a very monochromatic sepia-tone, as we see a close-up of a boot, then pull out to see a man climbing up a pile of blood-soaked corpses.  It’s counterbalanced with the dialogue from an unseen conversation, as we watch the man stake one of the bodies through the heart, with the deep red of blood being the only real color in the scene.  We cut to another timeframe, and while there’s no explanation in caption or words, there is a complete change in the color palette, slipping from the sepia-toned images of death to a cool blue night scene, as the conversation from the beginning of the issue continues.  It quickly becomes clear that much of what we know (or rather, much of what anyone who has actually read the original run of I, Vampire knows) is still intact.  Andrew Bennett is a vampire who was once a lord in the court of Queen Elizabeth.  He bit his lover, Mary, and they don’t see eye-to-eye on matters of life, death, or love.  I love the way the art doesn’t change anything about the characters, seein’ as how they’re unaging vampire-types, but each shift in time-frame comes with a complete change in the color palette and tones of the art.

A WONDERFUL VERTIGO SENSIBILITY.

In the sepia present, Andrew continues staking the slowly awakening corpses in the streets of Boston, while we see his awkward and disfunctional interactions with Mary in flashback.  When one of the awakened vampires begins to laugh as he explains, though, it becomes clear that something is very wrong.  I like the pacing of this issue, as it becomes clear that the pile of bodies is a trap, and Andrew is forced to go on the run.  Interestingly, these vampires aren’t killed by sunlight, just weakened, and Andrew and Mary have the traditional vampire ability to transform into (really well-drawn) wolves, but maintain his white streak of hair and her strange markings.  The issue ends with Andrew making a fatal mistake, and bringing the past and present storylines together in a pretty clever way, and the art does interesting things on every single page.

THE VERDICT:  THIS IS REALLY GOOD.

I’ll tell you the truth…  I didn’t know what to expect, if anything, from this particular book, other than a fear that the cover image made it look like Twilight.  I really enjoyed this issue, from the dramatic first page all the way to the end, and found it really beautiful to look at.  The artist and the colorist worked together in a way that you seldom see in comics, and the narrative throughout was lovely, balancing Elizabethan drama with a modern voice.  Those people who remember Andrew Bennett from the original run shouldn’t be disappointed in what he has become (especially in contrast to fans of Starfire, Katana or Damian Wayne) and the issue sets up Mary as a truly epic opponent, the “Queen Of Blood” who believes she is destined to rule, and feels truly bad that she has to destroy her sire and lover to do it.  I, Vampire #1 really does it’s job, with great mood, great color, great tone and dialogue, nailing the difficult task of being a successful first issue, a successful comic story, and a successful introduction to the characters, earning the full-scale 5 out of 5 stars overall.

Rating: ★★★★★

Faithful Spoilerite Question Of The Day: We hear a lot of complaints about vampires and zombies being “overused.”  Shouldn’t the same apply to all the SUPERHERO properties suddenly flying about?

The Author

Matthew Peterson

Matthew Peterson

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture!

And a nice red uniform.

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16 Comments

  1. Russ Catt
    September 30, 2011 at 9:46 am — Reply

    I read this issue and was unsure of how to take it.

    I think this book would make an awesome Vertigo title.
    I’m not sure how it will fare when it starts to interact with the larger new-52 continuum.
    They already made references to superheroes in this issue so I think there is an inevitability there.
    I don’t think you can get away with a whole pile of bodies lying around in the streets and not get attention from the Justice League or Stormwatch.

    personally I’d call this issue a 3.5/5 and I am cautiously optimistic.

  2. Armaan
    September 30, 2011 at 11:15 am — Reply

    It’s just… aside from the movies, are we really seeing MORE superhero-y stuff? I’m not sure how things are there, but here we’ve got vampire books AND the movies AND the shows popping up everywhere – while for superheroes we just have a toy or two in addition to the movie release.

    • September 30, 2011 at 12:13 pm — Reply

      It’s just… aside from the movies, are we really seeing MORE superhero-y stuff? I’m not sure how things are there, but here we’ve got vampire books AND the movies AND the shows popping up everywhere – while for superheroes we just have a toy or two in addition to the movie release.

      Well, I’d say the movies are definitely part of it. And there are/have been a slew of TV shows (Powers, The Cape, No Ordinary Family, a pilot for Wonder Woman, talk of a new Batman show) and the superhero movies are still coming, with build-up to The Avengers and the new Bat-flick everywhere. I see children wearing Wolverine shirts, and my kid can watch shows featuring Captain America, Batman and others. I shop at a big & tall store, and suddenly it’s full of Silver Surfer and Captain America images alongside the Hendrix t-shirts and the endless array of golf polos.

      It’s pretty much as pervasive as the post-Twilight Vampire boom, in my experience. The fact that I’m the target audience notwithstanding, on a basic level, the same rules should apply to our genre fiction as it would to someone else’s, shouldn’t they?

  3. TaZ
    September 30, 2011 at 2:54 pm — Reply

    I really wasn’t a big fan of Bennett in his first go-round, nor his appearance in the Dr. Fate series (which was just confusing as all hell…) way back when. I guess I’m just an old cur that just gets irritated by folks taking vampires, werewolves or zombies and trying to build characters out of them just because that archetype is a “fad” at one point or another.

    • fire hazard
      September 30, 2011 at 4:03 pm — Reply

      I guess I’m just an old cur that just gets irritated by folks taking vampires, werewolves or zombies and trying to build characters out of them just because that archetype is a “fad” at one point or another.

      I think any company that wouldnt take advantage of a fad has no buisness sense. As long time fans we should apploud them for attempting to put different or trendy titles out there. Or anything that will get the attention of someone who is not a comic reader so that the hobbie we love gets a reprieve from the death sentence its heading in.

      • TaZ
        October 1, 2011 at 7:06 am — Reply

        Hence my “guess I’m just an old cur” point. Business standpoint for the current readers? Certainly understandable. However, since his first go round I think too many readers may see Bennett as a “rip off” of “Angel” from the “Buffy” series even though I, Vampire outdates the BTVS series.

    • September 30, 2011 at 8:12 pm — Reply

      I really wasn’t a big fan of Bennett in his first go-round, nor his appearance in the Dr. Fate series (which was just confusing as all hell…) way back when.

      I think that Doctor Fate series fell right in the realm where Giffen went nutso and channeled Jose Munoz for about three years, turning me off his art… The only thing I read that he drew in that timeframe was Ambush Bug and those couple issues of Hex.

      • TaZ
        October 1, 2011 at 7:07 am — Reply

        VERY true!

        • BenJay
          October 1, 2011 at 11:06 am — Reply

          Hey, that was Keith Giffen on the mini, but Shawn McManus on the ongoing. And what was so hard to understand about it? He wanted to die, but couldn’t. Since he couldn’t off himself, he decided to end all existence. Personally, I loved that run.

  4. September 30, 2011 at 5:07 pm — Reply

    Dang, and to think I haven’t gotten this issue yet due to the fact that Vampire was in the title :/

  5. Ced
    September 30, 2011 at 7:40 pm — Reply

    Why this story have to be set in the DC Universe? I just don’t get this obsession to make everything related into a same universe. It just hinder many books instead of adding to them.

    • TaZ
      October 1, 2011 at 7:13 am — Reply

      So that the mysterious woman can show up in a panel somewhere? Seriously, Bennett was already part of the mainstream DCU in a kinda/sorta way. He was in a team-up with Batman in “The Brave and the Bold” and part of the “cast” of the Dr. Fate series that Matthew and I were discussing. The one thing I did like was that they kept the distinctive streak of white in Bennett’s hair that stays with him regardless of his transformation. Having him in the DCU would also lead to interesting interactions with some of the DCU’s “darker” characters like John Constantine and The Demon/Jason Blood. But still, I remain a grouchy old man living vicariously through comics so my opinion may be rusty and crusty and, as previously stated, your mileage may vary.

  6. October 1, 2011 at 2:31 pm — Reply

    This book, along with Resurrection Man, is the true sleeper of the New 52 launch. And it’s a shame that it was on the bottom of most Most Wanted lists, mostly because of some understandable vampire backlash.
    As a huge fan of the I, Vampire backup series, this is a welcome return.

  7. October 1, 2011 at 6:38 pm — Reply

    I frankly liked it. I gotta say, DC may have actually made a bold move that has paid off. Save Superman’s futuristic urban Marine Corps. costume, I’m REALLY liking the new 52 a great deal. I wasn’t a Starfire before she took the rest of her clothes off, so that hullabaloo didn’t bother me. I’m pretty sure I’m on board with all of it. Let’s just hope they take a solid direction with my namesake….

    • Damascus
      October 14, 2011 at 12:20 am — Reply

      Your namesake, eh? So who’s Doc Torfate? What can he do? Hmmm…

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