Review: The Strain #1

The last of Dark Horse’s dollar firsts is rolling out this week and it’s another biggie. The Strain is from Gullermo Del Toro (look him up he’s a big deal) and Chuck Hogan and it’s their take on Vampires. Yeah I know another Vampire book this week, but this one is also very different from the other stuff out there right now. The story begins in 1927 Romania, as a Grandmother tells a story to her grandson about Jusef Sardu. The boy’s eyes instantly light up with fear as she continues telling him about the once giant nobleman. He was a gentle giant and well-known throughout the village for his kindness, but then on a hunting trip with his father everything changed. After several nights of camping the men were picked off one at a time until only the giant of a man Sardu, was left. After burying the dead he headed into a cave to confront whatever had killed everyone. From there the Grandmother continues, as Sardu returned to his castle a changed man. Soon children began to disappear from the neighboring villages. When he would walk he would tap with his cane making a “Pick-pick-pick” sound that would scare the children.

19174The story flashes to the present day as a father and son play video games together. It’s not very believable since they’re sharing the same screen on an FPS and it’s clearly not split-screen. That aside, the dialog reveals that the man is divorced and he has his son for the weekend. His work calls (of course they do) and takes him away from his son. He’s a Hazmat team member and something is going on with a plane that landed at JFK. He’s filled in on the situation as he arrives, apparently there has been no contact with the plane since it arrived and all the windows are closed and the doors sealed. Finally after a while someone sees a window open. They board the plane and find… sucker you’ve got to buy it to find out.

The script adaptation from David Lapham (Caligula, Crossed: Psychopath) is good, but definitely not the best thing I’ve read from him. It’s very entertaining and I like the mixture of the past and present. The past had a very genuine feel to it which helped make the present more authentic as well. If you’re expecting “left field” Lapham then you’re in for a surprise as this is really nothing like his other creator-owned work. I dig the fact that he’s trying something like this though and I think ultimately he’s very successful in adapting it from the book.

Mike Huddleston (The Coffin) was a great choice for the art as he is a very strong visual storyteller. There is a lot happening on the page when the Grandmother is talking, that she’s not saying and that speaks very highly of the art. Huddleston uses a lot of thick lines for his art and it gives the story a creepy dark feel that should be there, thus working very well.

For only a dollar how can you not pick this book up this week? Sure if you buy it digitally you’ll have to pay full price, but still it’s worth it (although if you buy it digitally you could win the entire series). This book has a very strange team working on it; on paper it seems like they shouldn’t mesh, but they in fact work very well together. I’m looking forward to seeing the second issues progression and even checking out the novel as well. That’s been one thing about Dark Horse’s latest novel adaptations; they make you want to read the book and the comic and its usually one or the other.

Score: 3/5

Writer: David Lapham Artist: Mike Huddleston Publisher: Dark Horse Comics Price: $2.99