Thursday, October 08, 2015
Illustrations: Raulo Caceres
First Published: 2014
The Blurb: Max Brooks, author of World War Z and the Zombie Survival Guide, brings a new vision of stark terror to comics!
Across the globe the alpha subdead vampire race has identified the battle lines. With their prey dwindling beneath the weight of zombie apocalypse, the bloodsuckers must decimate the ranks of the walking dead to ensure their survival. But the rolling plague hordes are like a tidal wave of destruction, wiping clean the earth beneath them and swelling their ranks to legion. Will even the superhuman ferocity of the vampire race be able to bring mankind back from the brink for the own nefarious purposes? This is how a species dies.
The review: Zombies versus vampires… you have to love the concept and when it is explored by Max Brooks – whose World War Z I believe is very good (and I will get around to reading it when I get a break in the vampire novels, honest) – then it should be something special. But don’t trust the blurb.
The battle lines it talks about appear late in this volume, which contains issues #1-5. The comic actually consists mostly of background, letting us get to know our undead – not specifically the two Malaysian vampires, Laila and Vrauwe, who are the primary characters but more the general attitude of all the vampires as reflected through their eyes and musings.
This is the genius, though they call themselves predators – and Brooks makes a lovely distinction between V and Z by suggesting, “We hunt humans. They consume humanity!” – they are really parasites. Not only living off our blood but also our culture and advances. They do not muse and philosophise but live in a hedonistic now. They even have familiars (the girls' familiar, Willem, comes from a line of helpers, whilst in the West vampires are tricking familiars into serving them and finding their own replacements) who they treat appallingly.
They are aware of the subdead – as they call zombies – and the fact that pockets of infection have risen in solbreeder (or human) society throughout history but have always been put down. They ignore the rise in incidents and from the head of the comic up to the blurb's drawing of battle lines four years pass in which the vampires, in their arrogance, fail to comprehend the danger the outbreaks represent. They fail to realise that the geographic linkage in the modern world, along with the emotional disconnect of a post-social media society, would let the zombies spread too much. Its only one vampire, a rare thinker called Nguyen, who realises that humanity may be lost but even he does nothing. It is Vrauwe who actually finally acts, inspiring the other vampires.
Being from their point of view, and being drawn so wonderfully arrogant, we hear little of their weaknesses. We know they are hardy, strong and fast – foot travel is quicker than a car for instance. We discover that the subdeads’ fluids are poisonous to a vampire but a living person’s blood strengthens their immune system to the negative effects of the fluids. From the beginning of the story we are aware that the subdead do not register the vampires, that they may as well be invisible to them.
Being a fairly recent V vs Z comic series there are obvious parallels to be drawn with Romero’s Empire of the Dead but they are different beasts. This is at outbreak, whilst Empire is much later; this draws the vampires as the main focus, whilst Empire balances our focus between zombie, vampire and human. I liked the artwork in this, it was a very graphic style that suited the series. 8 out of 10.