“The Wake” by Scott Snyder and Sean Murphy (Vertigo, 2014)

The Wake

Scott Snyder of American Vampire, Batman and Swamp Thing teams up with Sean Murphy of Punk Rock Jesus and Joe the Barbarian to create a standalone complete story about a doomed future in a cool world. The Wake embodies every possible meaning of the word and with some spectacular artwork and great storytelling, it’s a full graphic novel story that will suck you in and keep you going to the last inked page.

Lee Archer is a marine biologist who is contacted and brought in by the Department of Homeland Security to participate in a top secret project. She is taken to distant Alaska, beneath the waves in a hidden underwater laboratory where she meets an assembled science team, some members she knows, and one in particular she hates. After everything is in place, they are eventually shown the reason for all the secrecy: a new creature has been discovered from the vast ocean depths. The creature is not friendly and is deadly. Then things go horribly wrong when the team realizes this creature is one of a huge army and the rest have now been summoned.

We then cut to a future time where the creatures have overrun the Earth and people are doing their best to survive. We meet a host of new and interesting characters and one in particular who believes there is still hope for humanity, and when she hears a distant radio message from a scientist from the past, she knows she is on to something.

The Wake has a great pacing, setting up the start of the story and guiding you along to the doomed future, but still instilling you with hope and possibility. The artwork is impressive and colorful, though at times can be a little complicated and hard to understand what’s going on. The ending feels a little rushed, but overall the graphic novel is a fun riveting tale that shows you what great things can happen when you put a writer and an artist together to create something new.

Originally written on January 13, 2015 ©Alex C. Telander.

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“American Vampire” by Scott Snyder, Stephen King, and Rafael Albuquereque (Vertigo, 2010)

American Vampire

In a time when the idea of a vampire is seen as a hero, a character to be respected, revered, lusted after, especially if they have big dark eyes and glitter in the sun; Scott Snyder (author of Voodoo Heart) and Stephen King (his first time writing a comic book) look to bring back the kind of vampire that sent you running and screaming in fear, in American Vampire.

There are two storylines going on here in this first collected volume, one told by Snyder, one by King; both set in the past.  Snyder’s story is of 1920’s Los Angeles and the growing movie stars of Hollywood.  Pearl is a young girl looking to make it big in the movies, but at the moment is doing her best at being an extra.  Until she needs to stand in with the male lead and gets invited to one of the infamous Hollywood parties.  But the producer and others in the movie business are vampires and have other plans for Pearl, torturing her and leaving her for dead.  But a stranger finds her and turns her into a different kind of vampire; his name is Skinner Sweet.  Now Pearl has plans of revenge for these vampires who hurt her.

King’s storyline is of Skinner Sweet, in the old west; his origin story.   A criminal who is found, killed and buried, but unbeknownst to his vampire murders, he has received some of their blood and is turned himself, into a new kind of vampire.  After spending decades buried beneath the ground, he is freed to get his revenge at those who killed him.

Snyder’s idea originally, the two writers have concocted a new and terrifying world of the undead, where the average person plays a little part in the story other than a source of blood.  There are the ancient European vampires, great in numbers but vulnerable to all the known ways of their kind.  Then there is the new, “American vampire,” who thrives on the sun, is stronger and more horrifying, but has a weakness of being vulnerable when there is no moon.  American Vampire is a welcoming new tale of the undead for the twenty-first century.

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Originally written on October 26, 2010 ©Alex C. Telander.