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    Advance Review: I, Vampire #1

    By | September 27th, 2011
    Posted in Reviews | % Comments

    Written by Joshua Hale Fialkov
    Illustrated by Andrea Sorrentino

    For hundreds of years, vampire Andrew Stanton kept mankind safe from the horrors of the supernatural world, thanks to a truce he made with his ex-lover Mary, the Queen of the Damned. But now that truce has reached a bloody end and Andrew must do everything in his power to stop Mary and her dark forces from going on a killing spree — and she plans to start with the heroes of the DCU!

    My sleeper pick of the month for the DCnU relaunch is here. How does it fare? Does Josh Fialkov bring his A game? Who is Andrea Sorrentino and is he good at this whole art thing? Can I get past the whole vampire thing?

    Find out after the jump, and thanks to Josh for letting us look at this book early.

    They say that DCnU is something that should bring new and lapsed readers to titles that they never thought that they’d read – or even just to comics for the first time. While I’m certainly not the latter, I can say this: I have never read a single page of the original I, Vampire series from J.M. DeMatteis. Not only that, but after the DCnU books were announced, I didn’t even know it had previously existed at all within the DC universe, all I thought was “what the hell is I, Vampire?”

    So really, I am an entirely fresh reader to this series, and given that I generally don’t like vampires, it seemed pretty far fetched that I would enjoy a book about one (or many, as it may be). The only thing that sold me on this book before was writer Joshua Hale Fialkov, whose work previously on titles like Tumor or Echoes has turned me into a pretty big fan of his writing.

    That faith turned out to be well-earned, as Fialkov delivers a very, very solid first issue, effectively hooking me onto the story and bringing me back as a reader for issue two and beyond.

    This issue finds two different stories overlapping, both featuring lead Andrew Stanton. One takes place in the recent past, as Fialkov walks us through the true point of the disillusionment of his relationship and truce with Mary, Queen of the Damned, a woman he turned four centuries previous who has since become a little dark. The other finds Andrew dealing with the ramifications of the breaking of his bond with Mary, and thus the crux of the story is set up.

    While some readers new to the art form may be off put by the narrative time jumps, I for one thought Fialkov does a stellar job in this issue using them not as a gimmick but as a way to build story tension and develop the story naturally together. The way he blends these two story segments together allows him to introduce the main thrust of the story while also introducing us to both the protagonist and antagonist in a very organic way. As the two stories play off each other, you start picking up exactly what is happening just as Andrew is, and by the end, you’re invested and aware in a similar (but less bloody) way. It also ends up making this book a really quality reread (which I recommend doing).

    I really dig the characters too, as Andrew sets himself off as almost a warden for the creatures of the night, looking at his longevity in this world as the impetus for a duty that only he can fulfill. Meanwhile, his once love Mary (Fialkov has the character toy with Andrew using this in a deliciously evil way) has went the diametrically opposite way, but even without that, you can still sense the simmering heat beneath the surface of these two characters.

    One thing I really liked about the first issue as well is that Fialkov actually places this book in the DCnU using dialogue – we get a conversational piece from Andrew talking about Superman and a half-dozen Green Lanterns and Wonder Woman – as if Fialkov knew people would be wondering “how does this fit?” We don’t know exactly yet, but you can tell that Fialkov and DC has big plans for it from the get go, and at the very least the self-contained story itself is extremely engaging.

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    This book also does an excellent job of being truly horrific and darkly romantic while still occasionally (and oddly) funny.

    But it’s not all writing. I have to say, with apologies to Fialkov, that the best part of this book is Andrea Sorrentino’s art. I had never experienced his work before, but this guy is the second coming of Jae Lee. His work is moody, atmospheric and powerful, and it is absolute perfection for the title. There are some absolutely phenomenal two page spreads in this book, and I love the way he uses layouts on even fairly standard pages as innovative and clever storytelling devices (check out page 13 with the streaming vertical panel with horizontal panels crossing it throughout).

    The heavy inks of the book give it a real edge visually, and color artist Marcelo Maiolo’s evening blues and tans for dusk give the book an added feel for time and place.

    The first issue of I, Vampire is the complete storytelling package, as Fialkov effectively and efficiently introduces these characters and their story to readers while Sorrentino sears the images of that tale into our minds. The surprise hit of the new DC universe is here, folks. Don’t miss out on it.

    Final Verdict: 8.5 – Buy

    Matthew Meylikhov

    Once upon a time, Matthew Meylikhov became the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Multiversity Comics, where he was known for his beard and fondness for cats. Then he became only one of those things. Now, if you listen really carefully at night, you may still hear from whispers on the wind a faint voice saying, "X-Men Origins: Wolverine is not as bad as everyone says it issss."