It’s October. Halloween’s right around the corner, and if that’s not scary enough, there’s the election right afterwards. It’s the time of the year for terror, and your comics should reflect that.
True, some of the recent DC books have drawn from the horror well—“Night of the Monster Men” has been running through the Batman books (and finished up this week with DETECTIVE COMICS #942), DEADMAN: DARK MANSION OF FORBIDDEN LOVE made its creepy debut last week, and of course there's the Justice League totally freaking out for some reason in the current JUSTICE LEAGUE arc. But if you really want to freak yourself out, you have to cross the aisle and enter the Vertigo section. And if you want Vertigo at its dark and bloody best, you should really check out two new vampire-themed titles that are now on the stands. Because I’m going to let you in on a little secret…
Vertigo does vampires really bloody well.
This goes back to the days of VAMPS and BITE CLUB, but was really cemented with the debut of Scott Snyder and Rafael Albuquerque’s AMERICAN VAMPIRE, and fittingly, it’s American Vampire that brings us the first of this week’s new vamp comics.
In 2013, Vertigo released the very first AMERICAN VAMPIRE ANTHOLOGY, a prestige-format book that featured eight different stories set in the world of American Vampire and written and drawn by a who’s who of comics. Well, they’re doing it again. This week sees the release of issue #2, which features ten different stories, written by the likes of Snyder, Albuquerque, Marguerite Bennett, Steve Orlando, Joelle Jones and Kieron Gillen, and featuring the art of Albuquerque, Richard Isanove, Renato Guedes, Szymon Kudranski, Leila del Duca and more.
If you haven’t read American Vampire, it’s truly epic in scope, essentially telling the story of America as seen through the lens of a vampire tale. It’s big, it’s smart and it’s eye-opening. You absolutely should read it. But with eight volumes out there, it’s a commitment. That’s what’s great about the anthology comics—the stories only take a few minutes to read. You could read one between projects at work, or between classes at school, or between innings in a baseball game—well, you get the idea. And are they bloody? Well, I counted two decapitations, one burning village and some sort of giant, mutated mouth monster in the first three stories alone. (Though, admittedly, I kind of want the mouth monster as a pet, so maybe that one shouldn’t count.)
The point is, AMERICAN VAMPIRE ANTHOLOGY #2 is a fun time that expands the world of the series for fans of the comic, or offers an intriguing entry point for readers who aren’t familiar with it.
On the other hand, it’s pretty hard to imagine anyone who’s part of a certain generation being unfamiliar with The Lost Boys, the 1987 vampire movie starring Kiefer Sutherland as an alluring bloodsucker, and the infamous “Coreys” as two of the young kids who fight him. If you came of age in the eighties or early nineties, watching The Lost Boys was something of a rite of passage, and that soundtrack… It was everywhere. Any of you who were teenagers during summer of ’87 likely spent quite a few nights hanging out with friends as “Cry Little Sister” or Echo and the Bunnymen’s unforgettable cover of “People Are Strange” played in the background.
Now this influential movie has made its way to comics with a new sequel written by Tim Seeley (yes, of NIGHTWING, GRAYSON and Hack/Slash fame) and drawn by Scott Godlewski (THE DARK AND BLOODY). Set not too long after the events of the film, THE LOST BOYS presents an all new adventure for Michael, Sam and the Frog brothers, featuring a dangerous new family of vamps.
If you’ve seen the movie, this comic will take you right back. If you haven’t, don’t worry, the whole thing is recapped rather cleverly in the first two pages. The rest of the book is a perfect blend of thrills and laughs, rendered stylishly and yet recognizably by Godlewski. All the details are there—Edgar Frog’s headband, Star’s earrings, Grandpa’s beer… The first issue features a great reintroduction to all of the characters before a surprise vampire attack propels the action forward in a shocking way. There’s also a fun Dark Knight Returns reference, and a bunch of crotchety old vampire hunters:
Look, there’s really no reason for any red-blooded vampire fan—or lover of 80s movies—not to read this comic, but if you really need another incentive, I’ll give you one. The comic has a variant cover drawn by Joelle Jones that looks like this:
Come on! That alone is worth the price of admission! Throw on some smooth sax, grab that variant cover and it’s like you’re getting an exclusive concert by the most randomly awesome character from all of cinema.
Let’s be honest, vampire stories are like the comfort food of the horror genre. They can get pretty scary at times, but far too often, you know what you’re going to get. That’s what makes these two comics so much fun. They’re both really distinct interpretations of the genre that manage to surprise you, and they’ll both get you in the perfect mood for Halloween. So grab either of them or preferably both of them, turn down the lights, eat some garlic—then rinse out your mouth with Listerine because raw garlic is disgusting—and get ready for some fangs and fun. When it comes to vampires, Vertigo always draws first blood.