Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Review- I...VAMPIRE! TP

I...VAMPIRE! (DC, 2012; Softcover)

Collects the I...Vampire! stories from House of Mystery Nos. 290, 291, 293, 295, 297, 299, 302-319 and also The Brave and the Bold No. 195 (cover dates March, 1981- August, 1983)

Writers: J.M. DeMatteis, Bruce Jones, Dan Mishkin, Gary Cohn, and Mike W. Barr

Artists: Tom Sutton, Ernie Colon, Adrian Gonzales, Paris Cullins, Dan Day, and Jim Aparo

Andrew Bennett was Lord of Queen Elizabeth's court some 400 years ago. He held the heart of her handmaiden, Mary Seward, and the future seemed bright for the two lovers. Then he met a vampire, and his life ended, for all intents and purposes. When Mary discovered his ailment, she begged him to make her into a vampire so that she may spend all eternity at his side. Once the bloodlust consumed her, she changed, becoming Mary, Queen of Blood.

Fast forward 400 years, and Mary has built herself an international vampire empire called the Blood Red Moon, whose dealings include running a heroin ring. Andrew Bennett and his two sidekicks, Deborah Dancer and Dimitri Mishkin, chase Mary and/or her vampires across the globe and even throughout time. This has a real soap opera/ drama vibe but remains an edge of your seat read.

The writing is superb, with this series being more character driven than many other mainstream comics of the day. It is the artwork by Tom Sutton which holds this series back, though. Sutton is serviceable at best, sloppy at worst. He works best when he is inking somebody else. When he handles all of the art chores it is a chore to sit through his work. Ernie Colon is better suited to this material.

Pixelation...horrible, horrible pixelation. My eyes...IT BURNS!

The Brave And The Bold issue, while published during the last few months of the series, is held until the end of the book so as to avoid interrupting the cliffhanger serial feel of the main story. The brilliant Jim Aparo does the artwork on that issue, and one can only dream of how beautiful this series could have been if an artist of his caliber were given free reign on the title. The team up with Batman only shows how this series works best as being on the outer fringes of the DC Universe. Indeed, it didn't even occur to me that the events took place within the confines of said universe until The Brave And The Bold issue. It worked better as taking place on its own little island, free of involvement and entanglement with superhero continuity. 

I found it fascinating that, according to this series, vampires will show up on videotape while they do not on regular film, the faux-scientific reasoning being that regular photographic film is silver based and videotape is not. Taking this a step farther, I would guess that vampires will show up in digital pictures as well. There is much debate on this topic, and I found myself wasting more time than I would like to admit reading up on it.

While many of the tried (tired?) and true Horror cliches show up (mummies, werewolves, etc.), they are all handled in a smart manner and never come off as schlocky. The most obvious comparison for this series is Marvel's Tomb Of Dracula. That series benefited from having a consistent creative team (Marv Wolfman and Gene Colan), while I...Vampire! moves from strength to strength with each new writer or artist without missing a beat. It is impressive how the number of different writers kept everything cohesive and within this series' established continuity. 

This book was released to coincide with the new I...Vampire series. It is one of those collected editions that I would not put off buying if you are interested in owning it. It is nothing short of a small miracle that it was ever released at all*, and I doubt that it will ever see a second printing.

*DC solicited the Marv Wolfman/ Gene Colan 1980s classic Night Force around the same time as this book, first as a hardcover which was scrapped, then as a softcover which was also scrapped at the last minute. That still smarts, as I was really looking forward to that book.

If the purpose of this book was to pique folks' curiosity on the new series, then it worked. I now want all three trade paperbacks of the current series.
Junk Food For Thought rating: 3.75 out of 5. 

The OCD zone- Issue 303 is included in this book even though it was not listed in the original solicitation, in the indicia, or on the back cover of the book. It is listed on the table of contents, though. As far as errors go this one is curious. It could have turned out much worse; the issue could have been listed and not included at all.
DC created two typos during the remastering, turning Gs into Ss.
There is a word dropped from the caption box on panel one, page 214.
DVD-style Extras included in this book: None, although to be fair, I am not sure what extras aside from a stray house ad there would be to include.
Linework and Color restoration rating: 3.75 out of 5. The linework is inconsistent at best. There are issues that look fine while others, such as House of Mystery #291, have godawful pixelation. The coloring is also inconsistent. Sometimes the blends look authentic, like they were recolored “by hand” on computer, while others have those horrid lazy airbrush gradient blends that send me into a tizzy. Very strange. Others are done semi-faithfully, maintaining the original color palette while being a hair off here and there.
I found it strange that some of the splash page job numbers were Photoshopped out.
Paper rating: 4 out of 5. The glossy coated stock is of a decent weight and all, but bright white high gloss paper is not optimal for material with flat coloring. While I prefer this paper to the chintzy mando toilet paper that DC has been known to use, I would have much preferred a dull matte coated stock with maybe a slight sheen at most.
Binding rating: 4 out of 5. Perfect bound trade paperback.
Cardstock cover coating rating: 5 out of 5. Thick waxlike lamination which will provide a lifetime of durability on your bookshelf when handled reasonably.

1 comment:

  1. I found this a chore to get through.....I really enjoyed the first chunk of the book, which was written by DeMatteis, but once Bruce Jones and Mishkin & Cohn took over, if quickly went downhill. I thought the Batman story was a good way to end the can't go wrong with Jim Aparo art. This was an interesting curiosity, especially since I had a few issues of this run when I was a kid, but no consecutive issues, so I always felt like I was missing a huge chunk of the story. It was nice to be able to read it all in one sitting, but I really couldn't recommend it to anyone.