Posted tagged ‘vampires’

Review: Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter

June 1, 2010

Seth Grahame-Smith became a publishing sensation with Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, but managed to somehow do it without a great deal of recognition for himself.  He spawned a whole publishing movement of weird classics adaptations, but none by him and all published as if they may as well have been, including a prequel to his own book.

So, Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter is his chance to prove he’s more than merely a publishing gimmick, and he mostly succeeds.  There’s not really a whole lot needed to explain this novel beyond the title.  It’s written as a biography, based upon Lincoln’s secret diaries, and Grahame-Smith puts a lot of effort into researching Lincoln’s life to blur the lines between history and fantasy as finely as possible.

This isn’t a great book, but its a very fun book, which is all the more impressive in that Grahame-Smith plays it totally straight.  It’s also the only vampire story I’ve enjoyed period since the current Twilight/True Blood/X-Men vs. Dracula, etc… fad made me sick to death of the subject (I picked this up because I have kind of a thing for silly Lincoln stories).  If you like the idea of the title, you will love this book, for everyone else, it’s very skipable.

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Review: Captain America: Road to Reborn

May 3, 2010

Ed Brubaker treads water a bit in this volume of the ongoing series.  I suspect a lot of that is publisher interferance though, and Brubaker makes the most of the situation, but it is what it is.

The problem is a pair of scheduling debacles.  First of all there’s the slightly contrived back-to-back anniversary issues.  This volume collects issue 50 of the current series, and which point Marvel reset the numbering to its original system, giving us issue 600.  So we have an issue dedicated to the history of Bucky (the current Captain America), and one dedicated to remembering the death of the previous one.  Both are good, but both are also filler.

Scheduling problem two, Marvel decided to take the next major story arc, in which the original Captain America returns from the dead, and pull it out into its own mini-series in an attempt to boost its prominence.  This move left the series with an extra issue to be used up, so more filler it is.  This time its an unused annual Marvel had lying around that has become Cap 601.  The issue is really meant to be a tribute to Gene Colan, one of the legends of the industry.  And on that level it works, letting the Dean come back to draw a double sized issue of Cap battling vampires, elements from two of his signature comics.  And his art is as wonderful as it ever was (although he could make do with a better colorist).  However, this is also the third issue in a row that doesn’t advance the story, and enough’s enough.

I’m being pretty harsh here I realize, and none of these comics are bad issues.  But you can pretty much skip this whole book and not notice a thing, and that’s got to matter.

Review: 30 Days of Night: Dark Days

April 23, 2010

Dark Days is easily the worst book I’ve read in months.  It’s the sequel to 30 Days of Night, a vampire tale with two things going for it, Ben Templesmith’s art, and the unique setting of Barrow Alaska (where there are in fact 30 days of night).

But now writer, Steve Niles, has moved the action to LA, and the art, while still gorgeous, is just not enough to help this train wreck.  So “the plot” 16 months after the prior book , the widowed Stella Olemaun has written a book about the vampire attack in Barrow and has reinvented herself as a fearless vampire killer in the hopes of using her book tour to lure out her victims.  

That’s okay except that her plans totally fall apart when the media fail to accept her story as fact, and she gives up instantly.  And then starts a romance with a vampire who, a few pages earlier, admitted to desecrating her husband’s grave.  WTF!?!

This book didn’t have much of a reason to exist in the first place as the original story is much better without a sequel, but there was a little room for a halfway decent tale despite that.  But this is not it.

Review: 30 Days of Night

April 22, 2010

30 Days of Night is an incredibly clever vampire tale from Steve Niles, with some fantastic art to back it up, but its sadly a bit disapointing.  The basic premise is one of those so ingenius that I can’t believe no one tried it before ideas, vampires come to Barrow, Alaska.  This is the northernmost point in the US, a town where the sun sets for 30 days, making it perfect for a vampire feeding frenzy.

Which is exactly what happens over the course of 3 issues, and not much else.  Vampires appear, town gets massacred, hero manages to chase them away (although in another pretty clever way), 3 issues and done.  And while this might make for a pretty good story, it doesn’t leave enough time to get to know any of the characters.  And without a connection to a single person in the story, the horror falls a bit flat.

Fortunately there’s Ben Templesmith’s career launching art to elevate the book a bit.  He very much comes from the Ashely Wood/Barron Storey/Bill Sienkiewicz school of surreal/expressionistic art.  But Templesmith usually manages to avoid the murkiness associated with many of his peers, using color well (even if it is just red in this book), and showing some real storytelling chops.  And his art gets even better from here.

So, not a great book, but one with a premise that is almost enough to make it worth a read alone.  And the art manages to push it over into being a must read, but just barely.

Lycanthropes Need Subject Headings Too!

October 8, 2008

Finally! A perfect to defend my byline.  My favorite call number 001.942, is a catch all for the paranormal, including UFOs and cryptids.  Which brings me to the best autocat discussion in ages, “subject headings for shape shifters, lycanthropes, and other were-whatevers”.  The majority of the discussion has focused on a need for headings for lycanthropes (including were-jaguars and were-horses) and therianthropes, with one person pointing out the Changelings of DS9 fame and another the Pod People (who I’d classify as shape stealers, but not shifters as they remain in the one form once they settle on it).

But this is just the tip of the iceberg.  Shape shifting is such a common ability after all, and it takes many different forms.  The Changelings are a great example as they can shift into just about anything at will.  But then you’ve also got your Dr. Jekyll and Incredible Hulk type shifters (who change from a person to a larger person).  There’s the Thing, another shape-stealer, but one that isn’t locked into one identity.  Vampires can usually shape shift, but I guess vampirism trumps that ability.  There are the truly odd ones, such as the Quiz from the Brotherhood of Dada (who can do anything you haven’t thought of).  And then there’s John McCain (thank you Jacob for that joke).

So this is a really complex subject, and I think we need a proper taxonomic breakdown done before it can be laid to rest and we can move on to subject headings for kaiju.