New 52 Review: I, Vampire #1

Here come the suckheads - and Blade ain't ice skatin' uphill from the Marvel Universe to deal with 'em, either.

Andy Hunsakerby Andy Hunsaker

I Vampire #1

I tried and tried to avoid this book as much as I could.  I have objectively disliked vampires since Anne Rice hit it big in the early 90s and Tom Cruise was prancing around as a complete git in Interview With A Vampire.  I've long maintained that they broke the mold with Count Chocula. 

First off, horror's never really been my thing.  Secondly, when I went to see the Twilight movie knowing absolutely nothing about it other than it was popular amongst young people, and then it turned out that they didn't burn up in sunlight but just sparkled instead, I howled with laughter in the theater and really pissed off some 13-year-old girls.  Then, when the movie ended, I became disturbed that these kids were viewing this as some kind of wonderful romance, and it was basically just a 109-year-old virgin trolling high schools for underage tail, and the 17-year-old he picks up gets creepily obsessive about him in a 'you need help' kind of way. 

The fact that suckheads are now shiny poster objects for tween girls is highly disturbing because they are essentially a metaphor for date rape.  "Oh, look at this dreamy young man!  I sure find him attractive, and he seems to be into me!  Oh, wait, he just wants to violate me horribly and leave me for dead."  If vampires aren't the full-on Max Schreck ghouls, getting hacked up quickly and with malice by Wesley Snipes or turned into neutered breakfast cereal pitchmen, I'm not interested, and all the naked Anna Paquin in the world is not going to make me TiVo True Blood for any other reason than to fast forward to the naked Anna Paquin parts.

I fear I may have said too much.  So let me get to the point at hand.  I, Vampire #1 ain't that bad.

Joshua Hale Fialkov had promised loads of gore, so I was expecting a lot of unpleasant shock-value splatter with some annoying schmaltzy love story painted over it, but that's certainly not the case here.  Artist Andrea Sorrentino and colorist Marcelo Maiolo have borrowed heavily from the Jae Lee school of art to craft a very moody, sepia-bathed kind of feel to Fialkov's non-linear story about the day the vampire revolution against humanity begins. 

Mary is a vampire who has loved Andrew for 400 years, but has grown weary of having to exist in the shadows when she and all her kind have the power to improve their station.  Andrew is a vampire who has loved Mary for 400 years, but he actually views humans as lives worth saving instead of simple livestock to be exploited, and he never wants to see another vampire created.  It's the Xavier/Magneto dynamic, except with coitus that isn't based in fan fiction.  One day, after their final night together, Andrew wakes up to find a note from Mary "Queen of Blood" that the holy war has begun, and there's a pile of bodies on the street below his window.  He goes to take a stake and axe to any fledgling vampires, only to find out they're secretly a pile of full-bloods playing possum, and they chase him into a subway… where they instead decide to just start devouring entire trains full of people.

The gore is not in the fore, which makes this book ten times more effective than it would have been if it was all about how much bloody mess they could get away with showing.  It drives home the point that there's more going on here than simple horror, which really helps its emotional core to resonate and the scary parts to really be scary.  What is more interesting is that this isn't some separate world unto itself – Andrew makes mention of Superman, Green Lantern and Wonder Woman, meaning that we're very likely to see some superhero intervention in this vampire mess, especially after all this carnage, and that makes for a compelling reason to keep checking back in. 

There's an "emo" style to Andrew, with the skunk stripe in his black hair, so if you're predisposed to hate that kind of thing, I, Vampire isn't for you.  However, I hate vampires, but I kinda liked this, and this was second only to Hawk and Dove as the New 52 book of which I was certain I'd never want the second issue.  Fialkov and Sorrentino have got me seriously considering it, and that's about the highest compliment I can give them.