Each weekday, Tim will take a look at what we know about each of the upcoming 52 new comics from the September DC relaunch, one series at a time. Today: I, VAMPIRE!
The Concept and Characters: This relaunch of a thirty-year-old (and relatively obscure) DC property updates the vampire love story for today’s audience. When the original series was created, in the pages of the House of Mystery anthology series, the vampire trend was undergoing one of its periodic upswings. Anne Rice had published her first vampire novel a few years before, as had Stephen King, and in the case of the latter, Salem’s Lot was turned into a television miniseries in 1979. That same year saw Dracula on the big screen, as played by Frank Langella, and George Hamilton took a memorable turn in the vampire comedy Love at First Bite.
You may be sick of vampires in the post-Twilight world of 2011, but audiences probably felt the same way by the time J. M. DeMatteis and Tom Sutton delivered the first installment of I Vampire in 1981. This relaunch changes the ellipsis into a comma, to show more confidence in the concept perhaps—this is no hesitant blood-sucker—and takes the essential characters and concepts and revives them in the new DC Universe.
As the press release indicates, “Andrew Bennett must save humanity from the violent uprising of his fellow vampires, even if it means exterminating his own kind.” And, true to the original run, his beloved is now the “Queen of the Damned,” a profane vampire overlord. Or overlady, I guess you might say.
My exposure to the initial series is limited. It’s never been reprinted by DC, so all I’ve ever seen are covers, a few appearances by the character in a Dr. Fate series, and what’s been written about the comic online. My understanding is that the original was a gothic romance, a quasi-superhero update on Dracula, with a tragic love story thrown in, and plenty of flamboyant costumes.
This new series looks to be more bleak. Based on the early preview art and some words by writer Joshua Hale Fialkov, this will be a comic that knows it exists with the lingering memories of Buffy the Vampire Slayer in the cultural consciousness, the backlash against Twilight hovering around it, and the recent success of Vertigo’s American Vampire to contrast with. Fialkov will surely try to carve out something nasty and cruel within that small corner of the vampire world that’s currently uninhabited. Though, like all the relaunch titles, it’s set in the DC Universe, so that corner of real estate could have superheroes passing through, when they’re needed.
The Creative Team: Joshua Hale Fialkov has been methodically building his comic book career over the past half decade. Though he’s only recently broken in with work at both Marvel and DC, his resume is impressive, with gigs at IDW and Boom, Random House and Del Ray, and almost every other publisher you can imagine.
His work displays intelligence and precision, though not coldness. His presence alone makes me immediately interested in this series, even though the title and concept seem like some of the less-inspired of the new DC offerings.
Andrea Sorrentino, former artist of the God of War comics adaptation/spin-off, hasn’t done a lot of mainstream comics work, but his preview pages for this series made the critical community stand up and take notice when they were shown at the San Diego Comic-Con. His moody compositions and heavy use of black give I, Vampire a thrilling visual appeal.
Recommendation: Wait for the collected edition. Even with such a heavy back catalog, this is Fialkov’s first ongoing series, and though it looks striking, I suspect that it will be a series that takes its time to develop. With an unfamiliar character concept and a creative team few readers know anything about, this series may struggle to find an audience, so it may not last long enough to become something special. But it is a vampire comic, and vampires continue to be, somehow, popular, so it could stick around longer than you might expect. I think it’s safe to wait for the collection, and get a full story of vampire love and vampire vengeance.
Tim Callahan writes about comics for Tor.com, Comic Book Resources, Back Issue magazine, and his own Geniusboy Firemelon blog.