By Victor Gischler (writer), Giuseppe Camuncoli (artist), Onofrio Catacchio (finishes), Frank D’Armata (colorist)

The Story: I don’t think it would be giving away too much to say that it has something to do with the death of a certain infamous vampire…

The Good: Uh… Wow… I honestly was not expecting to like this comic as much as I did! No, seriously, I was fully prepared to go off on this book, with its corny premise and strangely redundant title, with all the drunken fury I could muster, but after I finished this comic I genuinely wanted to know more about this strange new world Gischler and Camuncoli have created for us. As I understand it, the purpose of this book was to define and update the vampire nation and their role in the Marvel Universe, and to this end I think the book wildly succeeds. Gischler has created an entire culture with a deeply rooted sense of history, rivalries, politics, and rituals. You get the feeling reading this comic that these vampire sects have been in the Marvel Universe all this time, quietly lurking in the shadows and conducting their business without any of us being the wiser. I really appreciated that this culture was so fully realized, and frankly it makes me wish we could get an entire series devoted to them; at this point I would gladly pay for that story.

This story, with its thick air of political manipulations and Machiavellian betrayals, often reminded me of Deadwood and Rome, shows that excelled at revealing the ways people use and abuse each other. I got that same vibe reading this comic, and I felt that was a good decision on Gischler’s part, exploring vampire culture like he did, because I think I would have been bored to tears if it was simply an oversized issue of Anne Rice wankers being emo and using their vampirey douchebag powers against each other. But it wasn’t, so hell yeah. I was fully convinced that this was a thriving community, and believed in the weight and consequences of the rivalry between Xarus and Janus. Camuncoli was a brilliant choice to illustrate this story, his characters can’t help but look sinister, dark, and thoroughly contemptible, even when they’re standing around talking during the many quiet moments that take up most of the issue. To be able to pull off that level of intrigue is, in my opinion, the mark of a damn fine artist, and that’s why I’m always willing to follow Camuncoli’s stuff.

The Not So Good: There wasn’t a whole lot I didn’t like about this issue. Sure, the idea of making Vampires a new power structure in Marvel is bound to rub some people the wrong way, but that’s bound to happen when you’re dealing with such a universally cliché villain. I think that’s a minor gripe though, and nothing of consequence. I found the prose to be a little stilted, too; everyone sounded morose, somber, and ridiculously pompous at one point or another, and we’ve all read enough of those kinds of vampire stories to know that we don’t need more of the same. Going forward, I want these vampire sects to sound modern and like they are genuinely parts of the cultures they come from. But I think that’s a flaw that can evolve over time as the vampires are integrated in Marvel’s society and pitted against the X-Men, an impending battle that, as I sit here thinking about it, seems incredibly apropos.

Conclusion: I generally tend to dislike vampires. I think they’re boring, effeminate, fops and not terribly frightening as Bad Guys. But then I read this comic and saw tribes of vampires from across the globe uniting to form…what? A new world power? A supernatural terrorist front? Too early to say at this point, but Gischler and company have created a world that I want to learn more about, and I think I’m going to follow this story and see where it goes. Surprisingly good stuff!

Grade: B+

-Tony Rakittke