Thursday, August 22, 2013

I… Vampire – review

Writer: various

Artist: various

First published: 1981 – 83 (comics)

Contains spoilers

The Blurb: The dawn of the living undead!

“Four hundred years ago my vampiric kiss transformed the woman I loved into a soulless thing called MARY, QUEEN OF BLOOD! Today an unholy order follows her evil designs, and the blood they spill is on my hands! Thus I must stop her… I, Andrew Bennett… I, VAMPIRE”!

And so begins the quest of Andrew Bennett as he hunts his true love across time amid a horror show of blood, murder and grief. Along the way he is confronted with numerous enemies, devastating self-doubt and few allies. But Bennett’s powers are unrivalled, and he will not be stopped in his relentless crusade… A path that is guaranteed to end in misery.

The review: Having read the first two volumes of the New 52’s I, Vampire (see here and here) I thought it appropriate that I go back in time and read the original series, now collected in a single trade paperback.

The first thing that struck me was that Andrew Bennett, on the cover, looked a bit like a cheap rip off of Marvel’s Dracula from The Tomb of Dracula. To be fair the feeling didn’t persist through the comics but, perhaps, it was shifted by a feel of Barnabas Collins – though that was as much in pathos as look. Andrew Bennett does whine a tad.

The stories are much less apocalyptic (Bennett is no longer the key holding Cain in check, indeed Cain isn't even mentioned) and is not blessed with visitations from a whole load of DC superheroes (bar the last standalone comic in the volume, which is from Batman: The Brave and the Bold). They are also a little dated, these are very much of the era (both art and story) they were created in. But that is no bad thing in itself. In fact it was great fun.

Lore is standard vampire stuff with some inconsistencies; sunlight kills (though not when you are smoke apparently), transformations skills are apparent (smoke, wolf and bat), sometimes stakes paralyse rather than kill (and Bennett demonstrates mind control whilst staked in order to get a mortal to un-stake him) yet at other times they seem to kill, most vampires end up evil - except Bennett and some notable exceptions. The first comic mentions the alternative vampire names dearg-dul and upuir but they are only passing mentions and don't appear again.

For a nostalgic walk down comic-book lane, in the company of a vampire, these are first class, even the odd inconsistency builds into the nostalgia. The ending of the main story arc was excellent (I really did love what they did with it). Great fun. 8 out of 10.

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