Review: I, Vampire #13

Fialkov and Sorrentino provide a fantastic entry point for new readers as they begin ‘season 2′ of DC’s best book.

I, Vampire #13, cover by Clayton Crain

I’m somewhat rejuvenated at the news that I, Vampire: Tainted Love outsold every other book Marvel and DC put out last week.  I’ve always suspected the book would sell well in bookstores.  But to read it exclusively in trade is to miss one of the book’s biggest charms: the nail-biting cliffhangers, the legitimately shocking twists, the slow, sprawling introduction of an increasingly interesting supporting cast.  Might I suggest, to anyone looking to try the series in monthly form, that they start with I, Vampire #13, which follows up the massive, shocking end of #12 by revamping (yeah, I went there) the core cast and dynamics in some pretty fascinating ways.

Andrea Sorrentino and colorist Marcelo Maiolo (the art team from issue 1) do some of their best work yet here.  While I understand some of the complaints that the art is too dark, I disagree – we have been conditioned to accept and prefer bright colors and clear lines, it’s true, but Sorrentino and Maiolo are more than talented enough to make the action clear and easy to follow, the characters distinct and filled with life, despite the moody, atmospheric art.  This book just wouldn’t feel as unpredictable as it does without the shadow-heavy art that makes the brief moments of brightly-colored violence all the more shocking.

Obvious spoilers for the series to date

The book’s massive change-up, that made former protagonist Andrew the villain of the piece, while depowering his lover/nemesis Mary Seward, the Queen of Blood, and simultaneously turning her into the new hero for a much darker book, proves fascinating here.  While Mary is no longer driven by the insatiable blood-lust and demon-driven cruelty she was as a vampire, she’s still not nearly the ‘live and let live’ type Andrew was; nowhere is this better stated than when Mary returns home after brutally taking down a mugger and says, “I’m not Andrew. I mope for no one.”    The story introduces Deborah Dancer, a former ally of Andrew’s that he and Mary are both rushing to find for unknown reasons, and ends by putting us smack-dab in the middle of a confrontation I felt confident would be months off.

End spoilers

Few writers are capable of surprising me as much as Fialkov does.  When this book first launched, I was curious but only barely interested.  Now I would rank it as DC’s strongest title, the Must Read Book of the New 52.  The art is expressive – the two-page spread of Deborah’s cottage in Maine is as lovely as any comic art I expect to see this year, while Mary’s fight with a mugger is as thrillingly brutal – without sacrificing atmosphere, and Fialkov’s scripts are great at giving us characterization through small bits of dialogue, action and imagery.  Hopefully, Fialkov, Sorrentino and Maiolo will be able to continue working on this title for some time yet to come; it really does highlight what the New 52 did right.

- Cal C.

read/RANT

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