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Review: Rise of the Vampires Pts. 1 and 2

Written by Royal Nonesuch on Thursday, March 29 2012 and posted in Reviews

Things are really going to SUCK for the heroes in this crossover between Justice League Dark and I, Vampire!  Get it?  Suck?  Vampires?  Ah, never mind. 

Comic Review Cover

Credits & Solicit Info:

Justice League Dark #7

Straight off the shocking events of last month's I, Vampire #6, vampires across the world have gone berserk, attacking anyone and everyone with a pulse. Fearing her apocalyptic vision of the future has come to pass, Madame Xanadu mobilizes the team to intervene. But everything the JL Dark members know about how to slay a vampire is useless, for the world has changed. It's a crossover that had to be, continuing into this month's I, Vampire #7!

Written by: Peter Milligan
Pencilled by: Daniel G Sampere
Lettered by: Rob Leigh
Painted cover by: Ryan Sook
Colored by: Ulises Arreola Palomera
Color/B&W: Color
Page Count: 32
U.S. Price: 2.99
On Sale Date: Mar 28 2012

I, Vampire #7

Straight off the shocking events of last issue and continuing the story from this month's Justice League Dark #7, Andrew Bennett finds himself in a place he never thought he'd reach during his countless decades walking the Earth. But his absence on Earth signals a deadly loss of order in the vampire hierarchy, as the savage attack on humanity he's long feared looks like its coming to pass.

Written by: Joshua Hale Fialkov
Pencilled by: Andrea Sorrentino
Inked by: Andrea Sorrentino
Lettered by: DC Lettering
Colored by: Marcelo Maiolo, Andrea Sorrentino
Color/B&W: Color
Page Count: 32
U.S. Price: 2.99
On Sale Date: Mar 28 2012


"Rise of the Vampires" starts out in Justice League Dark #7, where Cain's abuse of magical forces kind of wrecks the titular team's mojo.  Their powers aren't working correctly, and they're stuck right in the middle of a swelling mass of crazed zombies.  Writer Peter Milligan cast his makeshift team of magic users as a pretty dysfunctional family, with Zatanna being the only one whose head is screwed on straight.  Madame Xanadu, who brought the group together, is aloof and cryptic, and Shade the Changing Man can't seem to make heads or tails of why his power isn't working.  Zatanna's natural charisma shines through, and John Constantine, as per usual, approaches things with his sneering smugness and superiority. (He does get the best moment of the issue – quickly realizing that their magic powers aren't working against the horde of vampires, Constantine simply brandishes an axe and goes about beheading the bloodsuckers.  It's the no-frills approach to slaying.)  Milligan does give us some great moments in the issue, like seeing what happens when Deadman tries to possess someone who is already dead (it doesn't work out well for him) as well as guest appearances from members of the Bat family. 

The issue starts off by plopping the team right into the middle of the chaotic fray, with very little to help figure out what's going on.  Only later in the issue are any answers provided, when Batman and friends provide exposition over what's happening with all these damn vampires.  It's a great way to showcase the team dynamics, such as they are, while still participating in a crossover. 

The artwork in Justice League Dark #7 is split up between two pencillers, Admira Wijaya and Daniel Sampere, who have a similar style, but the comic boasts a unified vision mostly due to Wijaya's colors.  The digitally-painted look gives a lot of weight an immediacy to the comic, making the vampires and superheroes that much more real and in your face.  It's a vibrant, attractive style that clearly communicates the arcane magic used in the story, but also the environment and the situations within. 

It's interesting what's become of Mary, the Queen of Blood in seven short months.  When DC's revamped I, Vampire started up last September, she looked like a completely indomitable force of villainy.  Even more than her power and the legions of vampires at her command, she had the absolute will and frenzied anger to take over the damn world.  Her introduction in the New 52 of the DC Universe was as frightening as it was thrilling. 

Which is why it's so fascinating to see writer Joshua Hale Fialkov put her in the corner in "Rise of the Vampires," the four-issue crossover story that starts in Justice League Dark #7, crosses into I, Vampire #7, and concludes in next month's #8 issues of both books.  In the first two installments of the story, Gotham City is overrun by murderous vampires who have been given an magical boost in power (which, of course, gets Batman's attention).  That would be all well and good, except for one thing – Mary isn't the one leading these crazed creatures.  That honor goes to Cain, the original vampire, who's let loose as a result of Andrew Bennet's death at the end of I, Vampire #6.  Cain's emergence has left Mary on the sidelines, and she's not happy about that.  Fialkov does a great job inverting the power dynamic of his book by making what promised to be a fearsome villain and turning her into second-best.  Next to Cain, who spends most of his time in both issues magically amping up his vampire army, Mary looks like a pissed-off teenager.  Mary was built up to such a degree in the first six issues of the book that seeing her get knocked out of her own master plan (and helping out Batman as a result) is a great narrative twist befitting the unpredictable energy of Fialkov's story so far. 

Fialkov writes a pretty straight-ahead action story for part 2 of "Rise of the Vampires," but series artists Andrea Sorrentino and Marcela Maiolo still get to flex their creative muscles in fascinating ways.  Their shadow-laden moody artwork serves them well whether they're rendering a claustrophobic vampire attack on Gotham or scenes in which Andrew Bennet's spirit (?) is being castigated by a disembodied voice in a mysterious white void.  The centerpiece of their talents in I, Vampire #7 is the two page interlude that serves as a type of creation myth for vampires in the DCU.  The grayscale art and zipatone textures bring about an appropriately creepy, gothic feel for the story. 

"Rise of the Vampires" seems to be a rare breed of crossover in that it tells a pretty epic story but keeps its focus localized and doesn't swallow up a whole line of comics to tell it.  The first two parts of the story show that it's a pretty exciting, well-done action-horror tale that brings a lot of character arcs and plot points together.  There's plenty of mystery and intrigue as well along with all the vampire killing and magical spells, and Fialkov and Milligan really come together very well to tell a multi-faceted comics story. 

Review by: Royal Nonesuch

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About the Author - Royal Nonesuch

As Senior Media Correspondent (which may be a made-up title), Royal Nonesuch tends to spearhead a lot of film and television content on The Outhouse. He's still a very active participant in the comic book section of the site, though. Nonesuch writes reviews of film, television, and comics, and conducts interviews for the site as well.  You can reach out to him on Twitter or with Email.


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