I, Vampire Volume 2: Rise of the Vampires

Collecting I, Vampire #7-12, Justice League Dark #7-8

Writer: Joshua Hale Fialkov, Peter Milligan

Artists: Andrea Sorrentino, Daniel Sampere

DC Comics, $16.99, color, 192 pages

I'll give Fialkov credit: I never have any idea where I, Vampire is going to go next.

The first volume continued the status quo of the original series: Andrew Bennett is a 300-year-old good vampire, who is pursuing Mary, his ex-girlfriend, who is queen of the bad vampires, and spoiling her plans to conquer the world but never quite stopping her for good. Sort of a Fugitive in reverse.

And you'd think a stable status quo like that would last forever. After all, that sort of "heroic loner wanders the earth helping people but never quite solving his own problem" has worked for any number of series, not only the aforementioned The Fugitive, but also The Invaders, Incredible Hulk, etc. It's a standard anthology-series set-up, so I expected I, Vampire to do the same thing.

Not so!

In the last trade paperback, Andrew Bennett was killed! And it read for all the world like the series had ended. Since the series' cancellation had been announced, you could well assume that was the end right there.

Not so!

This TPB opens with a Justice League Dark crossover, because Bennett's death had released Cain, "the primordial evil," and he is raising a weakness-free vampire army to kill everybody. The JLD arrives to fight them, and joined by Batman & Co. (it's all coming to a head in Gotham, of course) and Mary (who is miffed that HER army and world-conquering plans have been stolen), fight a losing battle while trying to resurrect Bennett. Deadman and Constantine find Bennett in the afterlife, but he refuses to return. So, that's it, then: The world is doomed. The end.

Not so!

Bennett has a change of heart, and when he returns he's got all sorts of Dr. Strange powers and puts everything to rights. Well, with the sort-of help of Stormwatch, who provide little except snark. But the vampires are all cured, including Mary, and NOW the series can end.

Not so!

I won't spoil what happens next, but it leads into the next volume of I, Vampire, which collects I, Vampire #0, 13-18, and I assume really IS the end of the series. Maybe.

The fact that I, Vampire refuses to follow genre expectations shouldn't surprise me, since I discovered (and enjoyed) Fialkov playing with crime noir expectations in a little GN called Tumor. And I'm happy to recommend this series for the happy twists and turns Fialkov provides, as well as the disturbing art by Andrea Sorrentino.

That's where this review should end, but NOT SO! Because I have a couple of non-I, Vampire observations to make:

  • When I was reading about the grossly overmatched heroes battling the vampires in two series (Justice League Dark and I, Vampire), it became very obvious to this reader that they all should be dead by page two and it was hard to figure out why they weren't. That feeling was exacerbated by reading all those books in one place, where each issue of both series ended with a "we're doomed!" scene as the heroes were overrun. But somehow they never were. It got tedious.
  • Every time I see Justice League Dark in any book, I am reminded how implausible it is that John Constantine is the leader of anything. He should be kicked to the curb not only by his "teammates," but really, anyone who meets him. He is that obnoxious.
  • I think the writer of Justice League Dark (Peter Milligan) is also going for the twists-and-turns and upending-expectations thing, but the accidental effect he has created is that this "team" is not only wacky and unpredictable, but also ridiculously incompetent. Have they succeeded at anything yet? I mean, besides taking orders from the most obnoxious and non-leaderly character in comics? They, like Stormwatch, are entirely ineffective in this story.

Now I really am done!

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