Thursday, September 27, 2012

I, Vampire Bitten By Classic Lit Bug (Again)

An evocative combination of art, scripting and the Bard.
While it is all too common for writers of all stripes (be they comic book creators, script doctors or short story practitioners) to return to the Bard for inspiration, or flat out plot-lifting, few comics quote classic literature with the panache of DC Comics' I, Vampire. A lesser writer than Joshua Hale Fialkov could be accused of going to that well too frequently, but by craftily weaving the inclusion of Shakespeares' Sonnet 116 into the issue's most dramatic point (when our recently "turned" protagonist realizes he can no longer return to a normal life with his beloved), it remains fresh and impactful.

I, Vampire, Issue #0.
Because I, Vampire #0 is part of DC's month long "Zero Issue" initiative, and therefore traces the roots of characters we, the reader, already know well enough, the quote and image of star crossed lovers Andrew Bennett and Mary separted by both a physical doorway and figurative chasm, packs an even greater punch. It would be sad enough for Bennett to lose Mary in such a "romantic" fashion, but we have the additional insight to realize that she is destined to be bitten as well, and in being so taken, become the far more sinister Mary, Queen of Blood, Andrew's nemesis.

Adding to the impact of this issue's conclusion is Andrea Sorrentino's equally beautiful artwork. Throughout their run on this New 52 title, Fialkov and Sorrentino have made taking tired vampire tropes and lore, tweaking it just enough to make it newly compelling, look easy. The ability of a good writer to carefully choose diction and thereby have the setting of events mirror the internal emotional state of the character's is done here visually by Sorrentino, presumably from Fialkov's script. Andrew's dreams are shattered and Mary retreats, however briefly, to her cultured life. The irony is that we know this dynamic will soon shift again, and Mary will become the bestial hunter to Bennett's sophisticated vampire.

The ability to expertly call on Shakespeare to add a final exclamation to this important part of Andrew Bennett's "origin" speaks even more deeply to the delicate care Fialkov and Sorrentino have taken in building this seemingly throw-away reboot into a must buy title.

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