Cornered and on the run in the dark home of a goth-rock superstar, the Master heads for the high ground as Dr. Ephraim Goodweather and his companions discover the ultimate vampire nest. Can Goodweather and his compatriots defeat this monstrous bloodsucker?
The first chapter of The Strain trilogy is coming to an end this month with The Strain #11 from Dark Horse. The story is based on Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan’s novel with a comic book script by David Lapham. Mike Huddleston provides art for the 11 issue run with Dan Jackson doing colors. Clem Robins rounds out the cast with lettering. The 11th issue hits this week, but we’re going to be taking a look at the series as a whole. The solicit info above is for 11, but my thoughts and ramblings will be about everything. So does this vampire tale bring something fresh to the undead, or does it just bite?
The story starts out when a Boeing 777 arrives at JFK airport and is on the tarmac, when it stops dead. It’s locked from the inside with all the shades pulled. Dr. Ephraim Goodweather from the CDC is called in from spending time with his son to investigate. He and his partner Nora Martinez find all but three of the passengers dead in their seats. As he and Martinez try to figure out what caused the mysterious deaths of the passengers, they are quickly pulled into Abraham Setrakian’s world. Abraham is a Romanian Jew who escaped the Treblinka extermination camp in WWII with a mission to kill The Master, one of the seven original vampires who has taken on a form from Abraham’s childhood stories. The Master has crossed over to America and is planning to wipe out all humans. As Eph, Martinez, and Abraham come together, they must fight against the vampires, the CDC, one of the richest men in the world who is an all-around shady character named Eldritch Palmer, and a conspiracy much larger than they had ever thought possible. They make plenty of enemies and even a rat-catching ally along the way.
There’s a lot more to it than that, but I’m just trying to whet your appetite instead of writing a dissertation on the 11 issue run. The story is very unique and interesting. Lapham adapts Del Toro and Hogan’s novel well, picking and choosing the best bits and giving each story thread it’s full due diligence. This stands out from other vampires stories by the way it goes about bringing on the bloodsuckers. With Eph being a disease detective for the CDC, we know why the strain is spreading. A lot of times it’s the other way around as people try to piece together what happens. Here we know what happens we’re just trying to prevent it. Having vampirism spread through a parasitic, blood-born plague is unique. It makes for Del Toro inspired creatures that are part vampire, part werewolf, and part zombie. The art in the series is handled well. Lapham has a slightly exaggerated style that has a hint of being cartoonish. You have big, strong characters represented with huge midsections and tiny legs and heads barreling headfirst into action. His character work is fantastic as is his interpretation of the creatures. At times though if a character isn’t a focal point, they don’t have facial features which is really noticeable at times. The colors help elevate the tale and really make for some disturbing scenes.
Bottom Line: The Strain is a great series that does the rare thing of being innovative while staying true to the source material. The first arc is well suited for trade. It’s a bit of a slow burn with things really picking up around issue 3, and by then you don’t want to have to wait for the next installment. With the second chapter starting in June and a television show in the works, this is the best time to jump in on The Strain 4.5/5
Cody "The Thorverine" Ferrell
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