Vampires are scarier than zombies. I know that’s something of a hot take, especially considering how amazing—and terrifying—Tom Taylor’s DCeased has been, but I think the ongoing DC vs. Vampires makes my case perfectly. This twelve-issue limited series pits the Justice League against a full-on vampire invasion, and since the thriller takes place in its own continuity, things get messy. In other words, some of your favorite characters die, and it’s grisly.
If you haven’t checked out this limited series yet, it’s a great time because the first two issues are now available to read on DC UNIVERSE INFINITE. On the other hand, if you’ve been following this horror saga from the beginning, then make sure you don’t sleep on DC vs. Vampires: Hunters #1, starring Damian Wayne, or June’s DC vs. Vampires: Killers #1, featuring Harley Quinn. These one-offs take part after the events of DC vs. Vampires #6 and are key to the ongoing story, even if they’re designed as standalone specials.
We know that in a lot of popular portrayals, vampires are sexy, civilized and sometimes even heroic. But in DC vs. Vampires, the bloodsuckers are terrifying. Typically, when someone turns into a zombie, they become lumbering, monstrous creatures driven by pure instinct and hunger. Vampires are different. They retain their intelligence and can blend in with regular humans. Most zombies can’t even talk. But vampires can manipulate and deceive you. Oh, and they can shapeshift and fly. Seriously, why is everyone afraid of zombies when vampires are clearly the bigger problem?
If the Justice League were dealing with a zombie outbreak, it wouldn’t be hard to identify which of their members had turned. You could take one look at Hal Jordan and notice that he was growling, not speaking in complete words, and looks like someone’s left him out in the rain for about three weeks. But a vampire can look like your teammate, and therein lies the problem. In DC vs. Vampires, the League knows that they have a vampire among their ranks, they just don’t know whom.
It’s like a high stakes version of Among Us or Mafia. Anyone who’s played those games knows the amount of mistrust and paranoia that takes over once they get going. It doesn’t matter if you’re close friends with the other players, everyone is a suspect and trust goes out the window. Now imagine what the game would be like if millions of lives were at stake and you have something of an idea of what the Justice League is dealing with.
A great example can be found in DC vs. Vampires #4, where Green Arrow breaks into the Batcave to take down the Dark Knight. The battle is brutal, and both heroes nearly kill each other. The catch? Each one is convinced that the other one is a vampire, but neither of them are. Luckily, Oliver and Bruce realize their mistake before one of them gets killed, but it was a real close call. That’s how strong of a weapon paranoia is and the vampires in this series wield it well. Their leader (and don’t worry, I won’t spoil their identity here) didn’t have to move a muscle to nearly take down two of the most skilled and intelligent superheroes out there. Can a zombie do that?
The Justice League is powerful because of their trust for one another, and now that trust has been weaponized. We’ve seen what happens when the League loses trust in each other. Think “Tower of Babel” or Injustice. It’s never good, and in both those cases, the League didn’t also have to contend with an army of bloodsuckers out for their heads.
And on that subject, the vampires are no slouches when it comes to strategy. They seem to be experts in psychological warfare and they’re idealistic when it comes to their goals and their beliefs. As Batman notes in DC vs. Vampires #4, “Vampires have a rigid power structure. A formal hierarchy that they almost always follow. Pawns, and generals to command them.”
It’s just hard seeing how our heroes can come out on top in this scenario when the enemy is just as dedicated, just as powerful, greater in number and right now holds every advantage.
DC vs. Vampires also celebrates the legacy of vampires within the DC Universe. Andrew Bennett, the star of I, Vampire, kicks off this adventure as he discovers that the Legion of Doom has been slaughtered. Batman also recalls his battle with the vampire known as the Mad Monk, one of his earliest adventures from the Golden Age. Heck, Dick’s college girlfriend Dala (who turned out to be a vampire) even gets a mention. This storyline leans into continuity, making it clear that while the League has faced vampires before, this time things are different.
DC vs. Vampires will tear your heart apart. You’ll be paralyzed by fear as you watch some of your favorite heroes get brutally murdered by their closest friends. It’s a story that will keep you guessing with every page as you try to unmask who the real vampire leader is, and as an out-of-continuity story, a happy ending isn’t guaranteed. Anything can happen, and the consequences are terrifying.
So, as you sink your teeth into DC vs. Vampires, remember that while zombie outbreaks may be all the apocalyptic rage, a vampire assault could literally be happening right this very moment and you wouldn’t know anything about it until it was too late.
Sleep well, DC fans.