I, Vampire: Joshua Hale Fialkov, Andrea Sorrentino, Marcelo Maiolo, Pat Brosseau, Clayton Crain
Few comics have an effect on me that’s similar to being breathless at seeing some great scene unfold in a movie, or the thrill of not being able to put down a good novel, or that make me stop everything and close my eyes to listen to a really incredible song. With comics, sure I’ll enjoy them and think there’s great writing and art and all, but it’s extremely rare to have that feeling where I have to step back from the book for a second and really say, “Wow.”
The I, Vampire #0 issue did that. And more than once, too. There are several reasons why. The very first impression the book leaves is with that extremely well-done cover by Crain. Nearly every detail is placed just right, down to the blood spatter on his hands. It’s effective that we see this version of Andrew, and not the nice human-friendly one, considering what happened in issue #12 (review coming soon). It might have felt like going backwards had it not been this monstrous rendition of Andrew.
Right on the first page we get a taste of the outstanding artwork to which we’ll be treated throughout the entire issue. Sorrentino and Maiolo seemed to say to themselves, as they worked on this one, “This is it. This is going to be the best work we’ve ever put out to date.” And it is. The rain and water art is top-notch, and nothing like I’ve ever seen. The splashes and the physical effects of the rain as it falls and washes over the people is so new and fresh, and keeps adding this haunting, ghostly tone to the whole issue.
The title splash page is also outstanding, with a shadowed Cain standing in the background surveying the fallen carriage. And it’s not just that page, EVERY page is filled with perfectly broken-down panels…the characters in just the right angles and positions. Nothing is off, nothing is out of place. I seriously cannot say enough about the artwork and coloring in this issue. It’s perfect, and that’s no exaggeration. My final piece of evidence in this regard is the final splash page, with Andrew out in the rain as Mary reads her letter. Heart-breakingly beautiful.
Speaking of heart-breaking, I like how this, Andrew’s story, is one of fate and a “missed date” so-to-speak. He was on his way to see his love, Mary (who will become Mary, Queen of Blood), when Cain intercepts him and misjudges him. The deal with Cain, apparently, is that way long ago he became the first Vampire. It’s unclear how. It’s possible he was the biblical Cain, as well. The Curse, or Mark of Cain, being the curse that turned him. He created a vampire army, but was stopped by Etrigan the Demon, who cursed Cain yet again that if he were to ever drink human blood from an innocent, clean human soul, he would be trapped in nothingness forever.
Cain has been confident, so far, in such a person not existing in the current times, and that’s where he misjudges Andrew. The two have a really interesting conversation…and I love the language in this issue! It’s set hundreds of years in the past, and Andrew speaks so proper. Cain has a lot of great lines too, but he slips in and out of the speech of the time. The pages where Andrew discovers what has happened to him are very well-done, as we watch from his perspective before finally getting a glimpse at the new monster wearing Andrew’s skin. Very effective. It’d be even more effective if there weren’t so many gorram ADVERTISEMENTS! Every other freaking page!! Really takes away from the experience, unfortunately.
I, Vampire #0, the verdict: What an excellent issue. The visuals that we’re treated to are perfectly executed, and gorgeous to look at. I read this issue twice: once reading it normally, and the next right after that just to stare at each and every panel on every page…to soak it all in. It’s so good. The story is wonderful, and full of grim horror that the art truly elevates to another level. This was one of those few I, Vampire issues where I could actually feel the fear it’s meant to inflict. Through no fault of the creators, that is, it’s just I don’t scare easily at all. This is a contender for BEST Zero Issue!
(Photo Source: DC Comics)