Sunday, June 22, 2014

V-Wars – review

Editor: Jonathon Maberry

First Published: 2013

Contains spoilers

The Blurb: They are already here.

They hide among us.

They hunt us.

They feed on us.

They ARE us.

V-Wars is the chronicle of the first Vampire War. From the savage murders committed by the patient zero of the plague to full-out battles with vampire terrorist cells, these are the stories of the most terrifying war mankind has ever faced!

The review: With a comic book currently available and a potential TV series, I thought it time I finally got around to V-Wars. The original book is a collection of shorts edited by (and contributed to by) Jonathon Maberry but the authors all had a common world and backstory to stick to. This backstory is shown to us by Maberry in a story entitled Junk. In Junk a b movie actor named Michael Fayne starts having blackouts. Fayne was patient zero for a flu virus known as ice flu (or I1V1), one that had been trapped in ice and released through global warming and that Fayne had contracted whilst filming on location in Alaska.

The blackouts occur as Fayne mutates, the virus causing junk DNA to activate and turn him into a vampire – he is caught because of the trail of decimated bodies he leaves behind but, of course, he is only the first. I would suggest that there is nothing supernatural about the vampires in V-Wars but that wouldn’t be strictly true. Whilst they are mutated individuals, and living rather than undead, they take on the vampiric form that their ancestry correlates with. We get a wurdulac, the woman being of Russian extraction, who can only feed on those she cares for and can turn victims, we get a snake vampire, we get a Jiangshi (Kyonsi) who has to do stretches each day to stop his tendons from becoming taut (the kyonsi is drawn folklore accurately; covered in white hair and has a monster face) and a Hsi-Hsue-Kuei that takes the form of a green haired ogre. Essentially every vampire type is catered for in this universe. As well as this some turn into Loup-Garou and others more traditional werewolves that are natural enemies of the vampires.

The transformations I mentioned (that do obey the law of mass and thus the mass remains constant) seem more supernatural (or praeternatural at least). When it comes to feeds we have similar. Whilst the wurdulac’s feeding seems almost a hard-wired psychological imperative, the kyonsi’s energy draining ability is again much more supernatural. The majority of vampires are blood drinkers, however, though some are flesh eaters and many have a need for human blood/flesh specifically.

Many of the stories are split into parts and the stories intermingle as we jump to just before the V-event to sometime after. We see the reaction of Government, US Homeland Security and the electorate. We see towns become lawless, or controlled by gangs. What we don’t see, I don’t believe, is all out war – but we see the start of such an event and the universe really does have legs enough to go on and on.

There isn't a bad story in the collection, and there isn’t any bad prose. It is all crisp, powerful stuff. Some of the vampires do become guilt-ridden but others revel in their condition. The only real shame of this volume is the time it has taken me to get to it. It is highly recommended and makes me really look forward to the release of the graphic trade paperback and the potential TV series. 9 out of 10.

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