Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Dampyr: Devil’s Son – review

Written by: Mauro Boselli & Maurizio Colombo

Translation by: Goran Marinic

Art by: Majo

First Published: 2005 (English translation)

The Blurb: Haunted by horrible nightmares, Harlan Draka wanders the countryside, shamelessly making money pretending to be a dampyr – half human/half vampire – ridding villages of what they naively believe are evil vampires. But when he is summoned by soldiers who are under attack by real vampires, Harlan learns the horrible truth: His nightmares are reality! Boselli and Colombo’s long-running European Dampyr saga begins here.

The Review: Dampyr was one of a few recommendations, left in a comment, and is an Italian comic book series. The series has been translated and released in paperback by IDW and so I picked up the first part.

The story is pretty much solidly centred around the blurb and I found it immediately familiar. Now whilst this is set in a war torn Eastern European country, pretty much in a contemporary timeframe from what I could gather, and the other story I am thinking of was set in a fantasy world, the base storyline between this and Barb and JC Hendee’s Dahmpyr are remarkably similar. Both feature fake Dampyrs who go from village to village selling their skills until they are drawn into a real situation and discover they really are dampyrs.

The Hendee’s book was 2003 but whilst the English translation was later than this the original Italian comic was released in 2000. Coincidence? I actually think it is but the similarity made the comic book seem familiar, like an old friend.

The lore in this suggests that a dampyr is a child born of a human mother and a vampire father. We actually see, in one of Harlan’s dreams, his birth and the fact that his mother died giving birth to him. He is led to his destiny by an old woman, who meets the soldiers, is killed and then appears to Harlan before vanishing off – the inference being she was something supernatural even when she met the soldiers.

The town they are trying to hold is deserted bar the vampires, who are all enslaved by a master vampire named Gorka, and after the soldiers are attacked they send for Harlan via the barrel of a gun. He discovers that he can sense vampires, that sunlight and a stake through the heart do destroy them as does his blood, which acts like acid when it comes into contact with vampiric skin.

The story, by the end of book 1, is still fairly simplistic. You can see that it is the foundation for the on-going series but it still reaches a satisfying conclusion in its own right. The artwork is quite stark, being rendered in pen and ink only – but the starkness suits the material and the quality of the art is very good.

A nice beginning. 7 out of 10.

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