Wednesday, February 04, 2015

Devlin Waugh: Red Tide – review

Writer: John Smith

Illustrator: Colin MacNeil & Steve Yeowell

First published: 2005 (anthology)

Contains spoilers

There has been a fair old gap between me looking at Swimming in Blood, the first Devlin Waugh anthology and this. Just over seven years, in fact.

This isn’t a reflection on the quality but more I received the first volume as a gift and never really got round to getting the second volume… until now.

As I explained back then Waugh is almost Noel Coward played by Schwarzenegger, a dandy hedonist with a British public school background – he is also a vampire, having been turned in the events of the first volume. He maintained his place in the public eye for some time afterwards but eventually became a partial recluse and retired from his position as a Vatican supernatural investigator.

However, when the Herod’s skull is stolen from the Vatican, Waugh is drawn back into that world as, awakened, the Herod is one of the most destructive supernatural weapons on Earth. Its theft ties in with a greater plot involving the denizens of Sirius.

There is nothing majorly vampiric in this story (we hear of Devlin feeding, he can regenerate and sunlight burns him). It is in the second arc of story – Red Tide – that we get full on vampire action. It is some time since the outbreak and escape of the vampires from aquatraz. A vampire hunting safari and research centre has been set up but the vampires have been breeding and physically adapting to their aquatic lives.

Larry Van Helsing and Devlin are transporting Lilith Karnstein to the research centre. Lilith is unique in that she is a daywalker (and claims to be a pureblood vampire). Her presence leads to an all-out assault by the vampires who want to take that power. Larry’s daughter was previously turned by Lilith and we discover that the anti-venom used by those bitten is not a cure but slows the progress of vampirism down. Larry believes Lilith’s biology may hold the answer for an actual antidote. Vampires are killed by sufficient trauma to the head or heart or through sunlight/burning.

The first story in the book was good and consistently weird. It reminded me somewhat of Alan Moore’s work. The second story was by far my favourite and was a visceral action piece with a nice surprise piece of lore at the end, which I won’t spoil as it is the punchline to the story.

All in all, 7.5 out of 10.

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