The Strain is the creation of Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan. Originally, it was created with the intention to be a television miniseries, but no one bit on it. So, the guys made it into a trilogy of novels entitled The Strain, The Fall, and The Night Eternal published in 2009, 2010, and 2011. Dark Horse Comics began printing the graphic novels shortly after the release of The Night Eternal, using the writing talents of David Lapham on the scripting with Mike Huddleston drawing what can only be described as "disturbing art". This particular trade paperback begins with The Fall story that has been printed during 2013 and is seven issues in. For this volume, the story covers the opening half of what has been released thus far. All of these stories have been given high praise and that original idea of making it into a television series has been approved and will be airing on the FX Channel this summer. How to describe The Strain? If you take your standard vampire tale, add a zombie apocalypse type virus with elements of a pandemic outbreak, and mix it up with some good old-fashioned end of days storytelling, then you kind of have an idea of what we are dealing with here. What makes The Strain awesome though is that it is everything you have read or watched before, but nothing that you have read or watched before. Tired old clichés that could be existent are not and these old ideas are made new. And it will make even the most hardened skeptic believe that the vampire genre is not played out. It's fresh, original, and spectacular storytelling hundreds, if not thousands, of years in the making. It is creepy suspense with just the right amount of action wrapped up in a tidy trilogy.
In this story, a vampire virus is being spread infecting parts of New York City and turning the city's inhabitants into demonic, super tongue wielding abominations that even the traditional vampires recognize to be a threat that can destroy everything. Things in the City are beginning to collapse as efforts to keep it under wraps are being made. There are some non vampires who are aware of the situation and they just may have the keys to stopping this menace if they can get their hands on a mythical book translated from an ancient text. But they are few while the creatures are many. It might just be too late to stop anything.
I have reviewed several single issues of The Fall and one of the elements that I really love about it has been how each issue plays like a television episode that works in keeping the reader captive. Once you are drawn in, it is hard to stop reading it. The writing, the art, the story itself mesmerizes you as you begin to see that there are many complex things at work here that are working together to reach some grand plan of death and doom. It is hard to put down. Langham makes all of the characters interesting in spite of the fact that they have nothing in common, but survival instinct and the will to stop these nasty creatures infesting the city. The writing brings out intense emotion and action and you really get a feel for the plight of our rag-tag collection of possible saviors.
Huddleston's artwork is gothic, yet contemporary...And Damn, it's creepy. The infected vampires are drawn to be horrific demons from Hell, using extra-long, veiny tongues to kill and infect others throughout the city. They are positively disgusting dark creatures that mixed in with all the shadow within the frames make you feel like the walls are closing in and this ancient primal death awaits you. It makes your skin crawl.
Spending the last several months reading The Strain: The Fall, I completely realize why it was picked up as a television show. It has all the elements of classic horror with a modern twist that makes for intriguing entertainment. Reading the graphic novel not only enhances that, but it puts images in your head through amazing writing and artwork that won't go away when you quit reading. Like the infected vampires themselves, this story will infect you, but in a good way.
Writer: David Lapham Artist: Mike Huddleston Publisher: Dark Horse Comics Price: $19.99 Release Date: 2/5/14