The Strain is the creation of Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan that is soon to be coming to the small screen in a television series set for release in 2014. Dark Horse Comics began work in adapting it into a graphic novel shortly after it was written, using writer David Lapham on the scripting. The graphic novel has had good acclaim since its release, and it is quite merited of the praise it has received as it blends in some of the best elements of vampire fiction with zombie apocalypse overtones to create an end of the world tale that will entertain and excite the reader at the same time. A vampire virus being spread by worms has infected New York City, but the public is mostly unaware as efforts to keep it under wraps have been made. Things are beginning to unravel however with the end looking to be imminent. It is up to a pawnbroker, a doctor, an alcoholic, an exterminator, and a criminal to save the world as we know it, but they may have failed before they even have begun as very powerful forces are working against them.
This issue continues to play like a television episode with voice overs of action being portrayed and excellent visual imagery being utilized to convey the seriousness of the threat. The characters are all interestingly scripted and drawn as the story has a very smooth flow of emotion and energy on every page. Lapham has taken Del Toro and Hogan’s story and he has added substance to the writing that makes the art all the better as it blends so smoothly to it. The infected sufferers of the virus in The Strain are not very pleasant to look at. They are quite disgusting and artist Mike Huddleston, gives the reader a sense of dread when portraying these beings. Of course the primary characters are also drawn with a subtle frailty that accurately captures the futility of their mission. It is hopeless cause, but they know they must try, or there will be no hope at all.
In this issue, we get to meet actual vampires of the non-infected variety and see them as possible allies in this struggle. They too are drawn as rather decrepit pale and dull figures. They are still frightening, but not as sinister or as frightening as the infected are. It would almost suggest that the virus may also spell their own doom as well as they prepare for the new shape of things.
The first five issues have been a continual downward spiral into chaos, but here in this issue, a "good break" occurs. Something that might mean things could be looking up for our heroes. But we likewise are beginning to see a conspiracy that is starting to unfold too that may make the Strain simply impossible to end with success in defeating it. It could be just too strong.
I give The Strain extremely high marks for is use of dark storytelling in an intense action packed thriller. If the television show can tap into just a little bit of what the comic is doing, then it will be real hit. I for one, certainly hope so.
Writer: David Lapham Artist: Mike Huddleston Publisher: Dark Horse Comics Price: $3.99 Release Date: 12/18/13