As an apology for writing a review of a book that you cannot exactly get anymore, I decided to do a top five list about why you should read I, Vampire. This book is from the same author as Tumor, Joshua Hale Fialkov, but you can actually read this one on Comixology and collected in three trade paperbacks through your local comic book store.
When the New 52 hit, this book was definitely a bit of an oddity among the capes and cowls crowd. A book about vampires with a cover that looks like a bad Twilight knockoff? Not for me. Every week I would see it and laugh. I bought it as a joke initially if I’m being honest. However, I read the first issue and thought it was terrible. Yet, I bought another one. And another one. Soon I was hooked, and I realized how absolutely delightful this book was. Hopefully, this top five list will convince you that this book is worth it.
5. I, Vampire Is New Reader Friendly
As is the theme for this site, this book is very welcoming to new readers. The only thing you need to know is who Batman is and let’s be honest, you know who Batman is. You also need to know who the Justice League Dark is. They’re a group of magic based heroes that show up for two issues of I, Vampire as part of a crossover. Other than that, I, Vampire is a complete story separate from the main DC universe.
I’ll give you the basics on the actual story. Andrew Bennett is a vampire fighting the evil Mary, Queen of Blood. She’s also a vampire and wants to take over humanity so that they can be cattle for her hunger. This is pretty standard vampire fare. As I’ll explain through this list, I, Vampire is anything but ordinary.
If you are a new reader to comic books, one of the best entry points are small series like I, Vampire. Look at some of the big publishers main lines and see if anything weird or out of the norm catches your eye. These series usually aren’t too bogged down in continuity, preferring to focus on telling smaller and more contained tales and explore a certain character or group of characters.
Who knows, you might even find something special like I did.
4. It’s About Romance and Tragedy
Romance in DC and Marvel comics is usually handled with all the tact and tastefulness of a shovel to the brain pan. I won’t go into specifics, but let’s just say it’s hard to find a true romance in mainstream comics. This is where I, Vampire truly shines.
This isn’t just a hammy romance between two heroes trying to make it work or even a hero and a villain looking at each other longingly while the world crumbles around them. This is a tragic romance between an angel and a demon. Andrew and Mary are meant to be together. He turned her into what she is, and he regrets it every day of his unlife. Mary loves Andrew but he doesn’t understand her and that breaks her heart.
This is the crux that I, Vampire stands upon. The comic is built upon this very complicated relationship between two people. If you’re not a fan of romance or relationships in media, there is a fair bit of blood and dark humor to entertain you, but I found this relationship to be one of the most compelling things in this comic. We need more deep relationships like Andrew and Mary’s in comics.
3. Andrew Is a Conflicted Hero
I love Batman. I will probably not stop buying Batman. The thing is, many of the staple heroes have a set form of morality and they rarely waver from that. Batman never kills and he never seriously hurts people intentionally. Andrew, on the other hand, is tested at every turn in terms of what is right and what is wrong. It’s really entertaining in the book when Andrew and Batman’s ideals clash in serious ways.
Andrew’s alliances switch and are tested by the villains over the entire series. Because I, Vampire is a shorter series, it has the luxury of going in depth with Andrew and his struggles. A longer running series has to fill space and time, so it’s less tight when it comes to the characters. I, Vampire could have ended sooner honestly, but the series we got is still really solid. Andrew and his ideals really help that.
If you like a character that’s conflicted and does actually grapple with right and wrong, this series is something you should look at. All the characters help to pose some sort of conflict within Andrew. Mary is the urge to give into the vampire curse and become something close to a god. If you read the two volumes, you can see other characters that test whether Andrew is mortal or a monster.
2. The Art Is Gruesomely Delightful
Comics are half words and half art. Andrea Sorrentino fills these pages with such a unique art that this comic wouldn’t be half as good without his pen.
There is so much blood in this comic!
I can only describe his art style as dark and gothic. Every page is washed out and monotonous but it helps accentuate the details. Really though, it’s to help the blood stand out. Flesh is pale and everything is in shadow. The art really sells the violence, but Sorrentino does manage to put in the details when he needs to. There aren’t a lot of colors which makes the art look flat but it also helps those little details or characters pop out on the page.
A special note, Mary has these Cheshire Cat scars on her face that look very unsettling whenever they’re shown. Point being, this art is beautiful but violent. Keep that in mind if you’re planning on picking this up.
1. Fialkov Makes This whole Comic Worth It
DC was lucky that Fialkov wrote this book. Without his witty dialogue and deep plots, this book probably would have ended up as a forgotten disaster. On paper, I, Vampire is a supernatural romance about two vampires with competing ideals. Remember, this book was published during the height of the Twilight craze. The book felt like it was trying to capitalize on that success but it turned out to be more mature and unique than the thing it might have been aping.
The characters in I, Vampire are tragic and forced into terrible situations, but that doesn’t mean they can’t have a little fun. I especially like when Andrew messes with people using his vampire powers such as turning into smoke. The writing sells the story and keeps it from being either too dark or too lighthearted. It meets right in the middle and keeps you invested without depressing you too much. That takes real talent and dedication.
I’ll leave you with something Andrew says to Batman in issue four without context, “I like your cape.”
I'm James Ristig. I've been reading comics for ten years and I'm a freelance writer and editor. Follow me on twitter @RisTigger