I'm regularly reading a book about vampires. What's going on here?
I detailed my distaste for suckheads back in my review for I, Vampire #1, so I won't repeat it here. Suffice it to say that if you'd told me a few months ago one of the New 52 titles I was still following three issues in was one about suckpuppies, I'd have likely suplexed you for your gall. But here we are, in the middle of a full-scale vampire uprising, and I'm completely on board.
Joshua Hale Fialkov seems to have a good grasp on what's cool about vampires (the powers, the human allegories, the internal conflict) and what sucks about suckheads (the goddamned pretentious romanticized schmaltz), and he's giving us the cool stuff in spades. One might argue the first two issues detailing the star-crossed love between Andrew Bennett and Mary Queen of Blood falls into the latter category, but weaving it in as backstory as we see Mary's army of vampires rise up out of the shadows to murder the living hell out of massive amounts of people nationwide does a great job of undercutting any danger of getting overly highfalutin with the emotional story.
What Fialkov has done is create the Xavier/Magneto dynamic for vampires between Andrew and Mary, establishing them as the most powerful of their breed due to their centuries of age. We find out in I, Vampire #3 that those hundreds of years means that neither of them can be killed unless they choose to die – but as Andrew created Mary, if he were to choose to die, Mary would go as well. Meaning that if Xavier kills himself, he could forever end the threat of his best friend Magneto. Or so goes the theory from Andrew's human friend, Professor John Troughton, who seems to claim undying devotion to his vampire buddy's cause of peace between vamps and regular folks. Whether that's a factor of Andrew's seeming ability to influence minds – like he does in the Buffy-sprite girl Tig that shows up here wielding a crossbow – or honest belief has yet to be seen. Tig might be a Scrappy Doo kind of thing, or at least become too "clever," but she's okay so far, so we shan't judge.
Artist Andrea Sorrentino and colorist Marcelo Maiolo are really nailing the Jae Lee look so well I have to keep reminding myself it's not Lee. That moody, broody and indistinct style really brings a different level of appreciation to the proceedings – namely with the gore, which doesn't come off as cheap and stunty, but rather as something more tragic under the circumstances. That's why this story is working so far – it doesn't feel like some generic 'ain't vampires kewl' dreck. Instead, there's this pall of tragedy hanging over all the action, which gives it a legitimate and non-contrived emotional punch.
The kicker is that this isn't some Elseworlds thing. It's set in the DCnU proper, and next issue even promises some Batman action. This means eventually, we could see Hawkman murdering the crap out of suckheads. How the hell is a horror book and a vampire revolution fit into the New 52 superhero world? It's enough of a question mark to tune in for #4.
CRAVE ONLINE RATING: 8/10