Review: I, Vampire #1 by Joshua Hale Fialkov and Andrea Sorrentino

I, Vampire #1
Written by Joshua Hale Fialkov
Art by by Andrea Sorrentino & Marcelo Maiolo

The New 52 isn’t solely about reforging the DC’s iconic heritage. The publisher is also taking a chance by pushing it’s other genre’s into the limelight. While titles like Sandman and Y The Last Man have effectively pushed different concepts into the mainstream, I was always impressed by offerings like American Vampire or Mnemovore, which continued to push DC’s portfolio in exciting directions. So when I saw the chances DC was taking with some of it’s 52 new titles, I looked away from the League members and B-List reimaginings, hungering more for books like Frankenstein and I, Vampire.

Unfortunately, I, Vampire #1 left me cold and disoriented, and I’m not empathizing with it’s hero.

Writer Joshua Hale Fialkov has a BFA in writing and directing for the screen and stage, and has a background in television production. He’s no stranger to the comic book medium, with his Harvey Award nomintated Elk’s Run, and work for Dark Horse, Marvel, DC, Top Cow, and Harris, to name a few. He even created the first Amazon Kindle graphic novel, Tumor.

Under DC, not only has he covered Superman/Batman, but he has a stint co-writing Action Comics #4 with Grant Morrison.

But I have to judge his work on I, Vampire today, and I’m disappointed, because I know he’s published better.

The first issue weaves together a vampiric apocalyptic near-present straight out of I Am Legend (the novel) and a romantic near-present flashback that is the key to the conflict of the series. We are introduced to the hero, Andrew, a four hundred year old vampire who has is hunting his own kind. Through flashbacks, we learn that Andrew and his vampire lover Mary are at a crossroads. Mary wants to kill the humans, Andrew is fine living in the shadows. Mary considers herself a civil rights savior to her kin, and is ready to go public in a bloody massacre and claim their spot in the world.

To cement this title in the DC universe, a frustrated Andrew barks, “And you think you and your “army” stand a chance against Superman and a half-dozen Green Lanterns and Wonder Woman and–”

It’s almost like Mary is breaking the 4th wall when she simply replies “Shhh.”

And so Mary and Andrew share one last night, only for Andrew to awaken to a genocide.

It’s captivating stuff. The only problem is, were it written for television, we’d hopefully have another half of show to really lock us in. As a comic book, that’s the end.

There’s nothing wrong with the script, it’s just ridiculously short-changed in it’s set up. You never get a chance to identify with the characters, and the timeline is hazy and unclear. It really could have benefitted from a few more pages, or at least a few more expository dialogues.

Artist Andrew Sorrentino (God of War) brings his stark, heavy ink work to the title, but at times it’s a little too stylized and heavy in a story where detail and the character’s postures and expressions carry a lot of the unspoken story. Marcelo Maiolo brings a washed out, filtered approach to Sorrentino’s work, wonderfully complementing Sorrentino and using tonal tricks to keep the storylines moving along and discernible.

At it’s core, I, Vampire is a fascinating book with astounding creative potential. From the style to the implications of the script, this book really calls back to the industry’s horror and mystery roots, and has the kindling to blaze up like Y The Last Man or American Vampire. But the first issue is something of a misfire with confusing dialogue (oh, you mysterious vampires) and a cramped script which needed more room. Sorrentino and Mailo help push the title back from mediocrity, but the pacing needs to pick up or else future issues will be worth waiting on a complete trade for.

And ironically, waiting for the trade would probably just kill the book off. I hope it picks up when I check back, for like Andrew, I’m curious as to how the hell this concept can work in the DCU.

Taking place in Boston probably helps.

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