Graphic Novel Review – I, Vampire Vol. 2: Rise of the Vampires

i, vampire volume 2

Joshua Hale Fialkov and Andrea Sorrentino successfully remade I, Vampire in their earlier volume of issues; it was a series that had garnered some attention back in the ’80s with its tie-in to House of Mystery but was overlooked by most of the new generation of comic readers. Fialkov’s I, Vampire follows the original’s story only marginally, instead working to include the DC Universe in its plot. Already we’ve seen Batman and Gotham City pop up in the earlier issues; in volume 2, we get to meet up with Constantine, Zatanna, Batgirl, and members of Stormwatch.

For those who aren’t really initiated within that universe, it might be difficult at first to get accustomed to some of the lesser known characters. But Fialkov does a good job of integrating them with just enough exposition to give unfamiliar readers something to build off of; introductions are meant to be weak, since the main characters of I, Vampire don’t really know the superheroes either.

The first issues of I, Vampire left off with Andrew Bennett dying. He’s our main protagonist, and a vampire protector who has set out to stop his lover Mary, Queen of Blood from taking over the whole world with her own band of vampire soldiers. Apparently, Andrew was the only thing holding back a powerful entity from reentering the world: this is Cain of Biblical stories, who threatens to destroy all of humanity, including Mary’s vampires.

There’s also the characters of John Troughton and Tig, who have been helping Andrew attempt to fight off Mary. John is a minor character because of his characterization; not a whole lot of effort has been put in to flesh him out except to make it known that he trusts Andrew and he will stick by his side throughout. Tig’s a very mysterious character who doesn’t play by a set of rules – she’s out to kill vampires, and that’s her ultimate goal when she stakes Andrew.

But unleashing Cain is the least of their problems; Andrew comes back from the dead, demolishes Cain, and everything changes because Andrew decides that he’ll help Mary lead the vampires after all. It seems Fialkov has difficulty deciding where his characters’ allegiances lie; there’s a ton of flipflopping going on in Rise of the Vampires, which would be commendable if it was done realistically. But I, Vampire‘s continual alterations to alliance become tiring because they’re not developed strongly. They simply happen because the plot needs them to happen, not because they’re organic or natural.

These issues also have an annoying tendency to introduce and lose characters when Fialkov sees fit. Zatana and company disappear after their help with Cain, while Stormwatch superheroes suddenly appear when needed.

The Cain arc isn’t that exciting for me, but once I, Vampire moves into territory involving a mysterious organization known as Van Helsing, things get much more exciting – quite possibly because it’s so chaotic and ridiculous that the reader can’t help but have fun with the comic. The Van Helsing group are bent on exterminating vampires, including the good-natured Andrew. Their quest results in the giant army becoming zombie mummy beings transformed by magic green amulets; vampires who bite the mummies also become vampire zombie mummies. If it sounds crazy, it is, but the action artwork done by Andrea Sorrentino is fantastic – one of the best aspects of this series.

There’s one more arc to I, Vampire yet before its cancellation; issues 13-19 will appear in another volume to end the series. That’s not surprising: the issues collected in Rise of the Vampires are action-packed and well-paced, but what’s missing is a strong story. The characters feel too wishy-washy and translucent, and their actions appear to be based on a coin flip about what kind of decision they’ll choose. That doesn’t make a strong argument for the plot development, but for those not looking for a very serious story, the action and humor of I, Vampire is worth a visit, if only a cursory one.

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