Friday, May 09, 2008

30 Days of Night: Beyond Barrow – review

Written by: Steve Niles

Illustrated by: Bill Sienkiewicz

First published: 2008

Contains spoilers

The ninth graphic novel set in the 30 Days of Night universe goes back into the frozen wastes and features recurring characters Marcus Kitka, who first appeared in 30 Days of Night: Return to Barrow and is now 17, and John Ikos. It also introduces a whole new set of characters primarily adventurer billionaire Richard Denning and his entourage.

Denning has gone to Barrow, though his primary aim is to remain outside the town’s barricade in order that he can find himself a vampire. However, before he arrives we see a group of vampires ignoring sense and instruction and aiming to get to Barrow. We also see that they meet a sticky end and not at the hands of vampire hunters.

Niles introduces a new concept within this, a creature seemingly evolved from the vampire and adapted over the centuries to the cold, artic weather. These creatures – Unnuar Amarok, in Inuit – seem utterly alien and manage to strike fear into the hearts of the normal vampires. I would be interested to discover more about them, at this point we know that they can become perfectly still, appearing to be rock, are cave dwellers and, it seems, have their own language.

You might recall me complaining about the vampires having a different language in the 30 Days movie. However, with these creatures it seems to work. Perhaps it is because they are so alien, so evolved (or devolved even) from the vampiric norm that they have lost all semblance of humanity. Perhaps it is because there was no subtitling of their language, which increased the feeling that they were so different to anything we have come across before in the series, and so their remoteness remained intact.

Of course, fresh human feed wandering through the wastes brings the Unnuar Amarok out and into the path of the rather foolish billionaire.

Artwork wise I was rather impressed. Sienkiewicz’ style is very different to that which has gone before in the series but it really works rather well, almost pastel with vivid colouring, the stylisation adds a level of artic confusion to the proceedings that only adds to the experience. I really hope that he is commissioned for more work on the series.

Again, story wise, this is rather simple and very much survival horror, but the beautiful artwork combined with the very new concepts served to make this rather worthwhile.

Many thanks to my lovely wife who purchased this volume for me.

7 out of 10.

No comments: