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.)
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.
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?