Not much happens in this first issue, and not much needs to in order to make it a great comic book. And it is pretty great. Our story starts beautifully-or as beautifully as a story can with a bunch of bodies floating down a river. At first we see only a hand but even within the first panel we can tell that this a Mike Mongolia book doing what a Mike Mongolia book does best. How a person can draw a pretty and simultaneously intriguing bloody hand is beyond me. This team is absolute artists. From the muted pastels used to color the pages to the strait out of the sketchbook style of the drawings themselves there is no question some great talent is at work here.
After the opening panel where a dead and bloody hand is shown, we are shown the body the hand belongs to, and it’s not the only one, several dead young women float down this river by night, lit by the moon in the black waters. The bodies are shown in various states of distress and blood is not shied away from—and it is absolutely beautiful. If you can’t tell, I’m a fan of the artwork in this book and for me that alone would warrant a buy, but the story would keep me coming back for the following issues.
What is here is sparse, the first few pages treat us to the beautiful carnage in the river wordlessly and pans back and back showing us the brutality from both under and above water. We then follow a bloody trail from the river bank to the murderer, another woman that may well have been just as pretty as the ones in the river were in life save for the ghoulish pupil-less eyes, the blood on her face and—the half-eaten human heart she is clutching. She is chided through the woods by what is first a bodiless voice, encouraging her, egging her on, holding her hand as she descends into wonderful, terrible immortality. She meets a man and a woman with pale skin offering power in the darkness. She is promised she will never be alone.
A juxtaposed shot of the newly vampire young woman dipping her hand into the crimson water to that of a limp hand hanging down in a dirty room introduce us to our would be hero, the hook-nosed Simon Anders. He wakes, washes and looks himself in the mirror and we can see his self-loathing, it’s a great silent introduction to the character and a cool parallel to the opening few pages of the vampire girl. He makes his way down the stairs and is greeted by the Professor, yes that Professor, and they begin to talk. Anders immediately grabs a drink and tells the Professor about his anger and his tortuous dreams. It all pans out and is displayed wonderfully, the line about Simon’s demons starting to control him as a nearby lamp throws a menacing shadow up onto the opposite wall while he pours himself a stiff beverage was particularly neat.
We get a cool little cameo from a toddling and already trench coated Hellboy and Simon lets the Professor know his dreams are getting worse. We learn a vague bit about how, in a last ditch effort to save him the good Professor locked the devil-hunting priest’s memories that are causing all the turmoil into Simon`s mind. The Professor apologizes while Simon has a vivid and emerald soaked flashback to a particularly vile memory in which dozens of vampires gathered to worship and call upon their gorgon-esc goddess Hectate. The professor informs him that there are many places where the undead go to worship but Simon assures him something here was different and he’s determined to find out what. Even if he doesn’t, if even a few of the beings responsible for his agonizing mind perish under his hand, Simon Anders will be a happy man.
And that’s it; it’s simple, concise and to the point, but that doesn’t make me any less excited to see where it’s going. The short intro to Anders character and the first few pages where were shown a brief tease of just how despicable the vampires can be have me hooked, I want to see what’s down the rabbit hole for these characters. Add some wonderful art by the likes of Gabriel Ba, Fabio Moon and Dave Stewart, and you have my money.
Writers: Mike Mignola, Gabriel Ba and Fabio Moon
Artists: Gabriel Ba, Fabio Moon
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Release Date: 3/27/2013