Saturday, September 24, 2016
First published: 2016
The blurb: The Vampire Wars are raging. We're all infected. Anyone can turn at any time. Your ally one minute could be at your throat the next. Or you go suddenly crave their blood. V-WARS: SHOCKWAVES chronicles the spread of bloodlust, bloodshed, and violence between the living and the undead.
The review: I am a fan of the V-Wars series; I make no secret of that. If you look at my reviews of the first three volumes (One, two & three). You’ll see that I have heaped praise (and 9 out of 10 reviews) on them.
It saddens me therefore that this volume sees a dip in quality. Now that is not to say it is bad. There are some damn fine stories in here. However, it isn’t entirely consistent. It does have some nice arc moments with the emergence of the Red Empire – a quasi-religious group who worship a messiah figure of the Red Emperor – that being patient zero Michael Fayne, who they believe will return and lead them. We also get a reveal, at the end of the volume, of the identity of the Crimson Queen.
For Mayberry fans there are cameos of Joe Ledger and other characters from the Ledger series. We get a welcome return of the V-Wars character Mooney in a tale and the stories range a little further internationally. We also discover that not all the vampires are as a result of the Ice Virus and that some strains had survived and were around before the virus activated junk DNA.
I was disappointed by the editorial decision to keep most of the shorts as complete pieces (bar Mayberry’s own Wet Works and Red Empire, which are split into the more familiar vignette format). There also seemed, despite containing a multitude of vampire types, less of a "who's who" list going on. One of the stories, Young Bloods by Mike Watts seemed slightly out of place, in that it felt that it was set out of the V-Wars at some point in the future, concentrating (as it does) on a vampire only school that had been around for over a decade. However this is the first volume where I have actually felt a story was not as well written as the rest of the volume. Silver and Lead by John Skipp and Cody Goodfellow just felt a little sub-par to me. Now that may be unfair as the quality of prose is so good generally, but it knocked my immersion in the volume.
8 out of 10.