Wednesday, September 02, 2009

CVO: Covert Vampiric Operations

Three reviews in one as we look at the three graphics that make up the CVO story

CVO: Covert Vampiric Operations was written by Alex Garner and Jeff Mariotte and the artists were Mindy Lee and Gabriel Hernandez and is based on comics that begin in 2003.

We are in the world of the CVO, a CIA team used to clean up supernatural problems and whose field operatives are the vampires Cross, Bools and Britt. This sees the team in action eventually coming across a supernatural element in Russia. The vampires are burnt in the sun, can turn to mist, have eye mojo and carry weaponry that ranges from the top technological toys to Artillica – artefacts with magical powers such as Bools’ knife that reduces a corpse to dust. The CVO boss, Director Overmars, is also a vampire and resides in ‘the coffin’ the CVO centre of operations.

We get some other supernatural elements such as platelickers – zombies used for clean up. Smiths, creatures with an affinity for Artillica and whose job is to work out what a particular artefact does. We also get the advisor to Director Overmars, Nikodemus a demon.

Art wise I quite like Lee’s style but was left cold by Hernandez – it just wasn’t my cup of tea. When it came to the stories I felt as though we could have done with a little more character investigation (of the main vampires) and this almost begged to be a prose novel rather than a graphic novel. 5.5 out of 10.

CVO: Rogue State was Written by Jeff Mariotte again and the art was by Antonio Vazquez, the volume was based on comics released in 2004.

This time around, as Supernatural forces meddle in a Central American dictatorship it looks very much as though the CVO has been compromised and it is disbanded. The Agents go rogue to try and discover what has happened and end up hunted by the US failsafe group – trained to take CVO down should the vampires become a threat rather than a covert weapon.

Like the first book I felt this missed out on characterisation as we really didn’t care what happened to the protagonists. There was a little around Britt, her background and her regrets but I don’t know if it was enough. There was no sense of horror as we are asked to side with the monsters but the action worked well. The art was similar to that of Hernandez but a little less washed out and I was either getting used to the style or it gelled with me a little more. The series was beginning to pick up some pace and I’d say this was worth 6 out of 10.

CVO: African Blood was written by El Torres and illustrated by Luiz Czerniawski and Fran Gamboa, based on comics released in 2006 and sees the team (1 year after the events in Rogue State) sent on their first new mission – to Africa. A fourth vampire is added to the team, Craft. In Ethiopia a criminal has been stealing Articilla and creating Azde – a sort of vampire/zombie hybrid, mindless, ruthless and resilient, their heads will actually fly around and attack if separated from their bodies. The team have to bring his operation to a close.

However, the first thing to note with this was the fact that there was suddenly oodles of characterisation. Back stories were fleshed out with flashbacks and suddenly we had a group of people who might be damaged but we understood where the damage came from. We started to care about the team.

The art was also better I thought – though still not of a style that suited the genre, perhaps, it did suit the African setting. The fact that Overmars seemed to have dropped 100lbs was dismissed with a comment about a bulimic vampire! That aside, the series found its way and became very worthwhile, 7 out of 10.

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