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Review: The Strain #1

Written by Christian Hoffer on Monday, November 28 2011 and posted in Reviews

An advance review of Dark Horse's upcoming comic adaptation of The Strain.

Comic Review Cover

Credits & Solicit Info:

When a Boeing 777 lands at JFK International Airport and goes dark on the runway, the Center for Disease Control, fearing a terrorist attack, calls in Dr. Ephraim Goodweather and his team of expert biological-threat first responders. Only an elderly pawnbroker from Spanish Harlem suspects a darker purpose behind the event-an ancient threat intent on covering mankind in darkness.

* From director Guillermo del Toro and novelist Chuck Hogan (Prince of Thieves)!

* Adapted for comics by Eisner Award-winning writer David Lapham!

Writer:David Lapham, Guillero del Toro, Chuck Hogan
Artist:Mike Huddleston
Colorist:Dan Jackson
Cover Artist:Mike Huddleston

Genre: Horror

Publication Date:December 14, 2011
Format:FC, 32 pages


In 2009, Guillermo del Toro made his first foray into writing with The Strain, the first in a three-part trilogy focusing on a vampire infestation in New York. Del Toro put his own unique spin on the biology of vampires, reimagining the classic creatures as worm-like parasites that infect and morph their human hosts. In July of this year, Dark Horse announced that it would be adapting the series into comic book form, with Dave Lapham writing the adaptation and Mike Huddleston on art duties.   With the first issue about to hit stands in two weeks, Lapham and Huddleston have successfully captured the creepy horror and a sense of impending dread in The Strain #1.

The Strain #1 opens with the origin of the main villain, Jusef Sardu, as told by the grandmother of a young Abraham Setrakian. Sardu, once a friendly noble afflicted with gigantism, becomes a bloodthirsty killer after an ill-fated trip, terrorizing a nearby town who come to dread the distinctive noise of Sardu's cane. The comic then flash forwards to the present to introduce protagonist Ephraim Goodweather, the head of the CDC's First Response team, who is pulled away from a weekend with his son to investigate a mysterious attack on a Boeing 777. As news filters out about the Boeing 777, it alerts the attention of Abraham Setrakin, now an old man, who recognizes the attack as a sign of terrible things to come.

Lapham and Huddleston didn't have the easiest task in adapting del Toro's and co-writer Chuck Hogan's novel. The Strain, like all of del Toro's work, has a unique and creepy feel to it. Many novel-to-comic adaptations fail to translate the atmosphere and mood of the novel, and instead read like a toned down rehash of the plot without any of the charm of the original work. Luckily both creators were up to the task and captured the tone of del Toro's novel perfectly. Lapham in particular does a great job making the main protagonist, Ephraim, relatable right off the bat by depicting his struggle to balance the demands of his personal life with those of his job at the CDC.   My only concern is that the first issue was relatively decompressed in comparison with the novel, and mainly served to introduce the characters and provide a starting point for the plot. While I understand that this is a necessary evil, especially for those who haven't read the book, I still felt a little robbed when the book ended before anything exciting happened.

All in all, The Strain #1 is a solid first chapter to what is sure to be a creepy horror comic. Lapham and Huddleston should be congratulated for successfully bringing del Toro's unique brand of horror into comic book form in a unique and captivating way that's sure to please both fans of the series and newcomers to The Strain alike.

Review by: Christian Hoffer

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About the Author - Christian

Christian is the exasperated Abbott to the Outhouse's Costello. When he's not yelling at the Newsroom for upsetting readers or complaining to his wife about why the Internet is stupid, he sits in his dingy business office trying to find new ways to make the site earn money. Christian is also the only person in history stupid enough to moderate two comic book forums at once.


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