Writer Joshua Hale Fialkov and artist Andrea Sorrentino have earned a very strong following with their surprise hit monthly book, I, Vampire. When I first saw this title on the list of the new 52, I was very confused and predicted it would drop off the shelf in short order. Unfortunately, that fate came to OMAC, bit I, Vampire is still going strong. Even so, that doesn’t mean a good guest appearance from the Dark Knight would be unwelcome.
In fact, issues 5 and 6 of I, Vampire will spin off into the pages of Justice League Dark where a full-blown event “Rise of the Vampires” will launch in March. I know that crossovers are often frowned upon, but I am enjoying the more organic nature of these stories such as the blending of Swamp Thing and Animal Man. It just feels right. In direct opposition was the inexplicable appearance of the Flash in Batman: The Dark Knight. But, you can’t win them all.
The story so far can be gleaned from this single issue, thanks to some deft characterization from Fialkov. Andrew is a ‘good vampire’ who is fighting the many plots of Mary, an ‘evil vampire.’ Along for the ride are aged vampire hunter John Troughton and the feisty Tig (covered in day-glow band aids for some reason). The trio have landed in Gotham City where a train arriving from Boston is the scene of a brutal slaughter. No one can seem to explain what has happened but when Andrew starts flitting about in the form of mist, he encounter Batman and is reminded that he is in someone else’s town.
With a train depot full of bloody carnage and a creature appearing to exhibit the characteristics of a vampire, Batman is skeptical at best of Andrew’s motives. However, Batman is forced to accept that Andrew and his friends are not the cause of the grisly murders and are actually hunting the true cause, the mysterious Mary.
I quite like the interplay between Andrew and Batman. Neither is willing to lose face and seem to be in a contest to show who can be more mysterious and grim. Bats wins the moment Andrew admits to liking the hero’s cape. Looking for the most likely spot where Mary would house her cargo leads the group to the local courthouse. The newly turned vampires apparently have a period of uncontrollable rage on first awakening, so the cells built into the court house’s basement will serve to contain their rages.
It’s only when the elevator arrives in the basement that it suddenly dawns on the adventurers that they have delivered themselves into a den of blood-thirsty monsters, with no escape.
There are some weird moments where logic seems to go out the window (why would Batman suspect and accept Andrew with equal swiftness? and why deliver themselves into Mary’s hands?), but the character interactions are strong, the mood is sharp and the artwork interesting enough to have me coming back for more. I have been reading plenty of praise for I, Vampire and it’s nice that I finally have an excuse to check it out.
If you are a Batman fan worried that you’ll miss out on something important, don’t. This story seems as pertinent as the Batman Dark Knight series. However, I recommend at least giving it a glance at the comic shop as it is quite good and it may cause you to hunt down back issues of I, Vampire (collected in a recent bumper volume with Justice League Dark).
As Joshua Hale Fialkov had told Comicvine in a recent interview, he is an old hand at the vampiric genre and it shows. Many (myself included) feel that the concept has become over-sold of late, but this series could reverse that trend and return the vampire mystique to its noble status again.
I’ve written an inordinate amount of vampire fiction for a guy that writes non-monster horror. I predominantly write noir-horror, I write a lot of true-crimey stuff. But, Vampirella was my first work for hire, I did a series of vampire romance novels called the DARK-HUNTER books that adapted into manga and I did a manga series called PRINCESS RESURRECTION. My first paid writing job ever was writing a short story for Steve Niles’ 30 DAYS OF NIGHT, actually.
Vampires have sort of run through my career. It’s funny that my big first work for hire gig at DC is a vampire book. I was a fan of the original stories with the characters, and especially the book’s creator, J.M. DeMatteis. In fact J.M. DeMatteis’ BROOKLYN DREAMS was one of the books that inspired me to become a comic book writer.
Writing I, VAMPIRE has been a lot of fun. I haven’t had to compromise a lot of stuff. It’s an extremely rare thing to be able to tell the stories you want to tell the way you want to tell them.
He also spoke to Newsarama about the implications of setting the latest issue in Gotham City:
Nrama: Andrew’s off to Gotham now. What was it like writing those issues, and how does that setting in particular work with the story?
Fialkov:Well, writing a giant gothic romance in what is essentially the gothic capital of the fictional universe is a helluva lot of fun. The stuff [artist] Andrea [Sorrentino] brings out of the environments is just amazing, and he presents a Gotham like you’ve never seen before.
Nrama: How was it writing Batman in issue #5 and #6, and what’s his role in this story?
Fialkov:Writing Batman is always a treat. He’s that rare character in comics where his purpose is so clearly defined, that he almost writes himself.
When the story starts, a train that should be filled with people shows up completely empty, save for the pools of blood all over. Batman’s in “red ball” mode, racing to find out which of his villains could’ve done it, when he meets Andrew for the first time, and then Mary “introduces” her vampires to one of the cornerstone heroes of the DCU.
The idea for me was that once Mary and her crew face Batman, the heroes of the world know that this menace is out there, and suddenly are forced into becoming proactive against them. Plus, if she can face down Batman and win, that doesn’t bode well for the rest of the world.
Of course thanks to the zaniness of old comic books, Batman is no stranger to fighting creatures of the night as the panel below attests. Will the new modern Batman rise to the challenge? Find out next month.