Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Batman: Vampire – review

Written by: Doug Moench

Illustrated by: Kelley Jones, John Beatty & Gregory Wright

Contains spoilers

This is a collection of the three Batman elseworlds graphic novels. Elseworlds was DC's series based around alternate realities, putting the heroes (and villains) into unusual situations. The series was made up of Red Rain, Bloodstorm and Crimson Mist. Like the later the Batman Vs Dracula the first part featured Dracula.

There is a red rain falling on Gotham – an industrial pollution, which might be the reason why Dracula is not being as discreet as he was over the centuries but that is hardly explored. He has come to Gotham and is building an army of the undead. Opposing him is Tanya, a vampire herself who hates Dracula. Batman is following the clues but Bruce Wayne dreams nightly of a visitation by a vampire – Tanya. She is turning him so that he might face Dracula.

By Bloodstorm Batman is a vampire, Dracula is dead and the bat faces a nightly fight against the thirst – the serum that Tanya had provided is proving more and more ineffective. Fortunately Batman has not drunk of blood. However some of Dracula’s ‘children’ remain and Joker, not a vampire himself, has taken command of them.

In the third story Commissionaire Gordon and Alfred unleash a corrupted Batman upon Gotham and he cuts a bloody swathe through Gotham’s criminal underworld. The vigilante is replaced by a ruthless hunter who happens to select criminals for his prey – but what happens when they are all dead?

Lore wise some things are pretty standard, stake through the heart – which immobilises, allows the body to corrupt but, if removed, the vampire will rise again. Beheading is the order of the day. Sunlight destroys the vampire but holy items only work if the vampire has drunk human blood. Unusually we get a transference of lycanthropy by being bitten by a vampire in wolf form and not killed by said bite – even stranger is that it mutates into a cat variety and creates catwoman. Unconditional love can hold a vampire’s thirst at bay.

These are lovely, dark graphics – going much further in the gore stakes than the animation was allowed to. The artwork is nice but I wasn’t too keen on some of the lettering – drawn up like handwriting it could be a little difficult to read. However, a minor detail all told.

Of course, the difficulty is that I am a fan of batman and a fan of the vampire genre and bringing them both together is always going to be a positive (which could be wrecked, but in this case wasn’t). To me this was very worthwhile but I would have loved some expansion on the themes, that space didn’t allow. It was also a thought, as I tried to look at this objectively, that perfect clarity regarding some of the characters' actions relied on a knowledge of the Batman franchise. 7.5 out of 10.


everlost said...

Do the second and third parts to this predate the marvel blade comics? summary sounds very similar...interesting to know which came first?

Uranium Willy said...

I loved the pen and ink work of Kelly Jones. I would love to have this.

Taliesin_ttlg said...

Hi Guys

Everlost, Blade first appeared in Tomb of Dracula in 1972 and had his first solo comic around 1975.

The more modern Blade began in Nightstalkers circa 1992 and Blade the vampire hunter was 1994, around the time that bloodstorm was released (1994).

Crimson Mist first appeared in 1998.

Bill - they're on Amazon, though how you'd fare in China iro I don't know.

JaredMithrandir said...

You might want to get The batman Chronicles Volume 1 whihc collects the first Year of Batman's adventures from 1939-1940.

The 5th and 6th if I remember correctly comics collected are about batman battling a "Vampire" called "The Monk".

Taliesin_ttlg said...

my thanks for that Jared... it'll go in the wishlist :)