It has been one dark and disturbed run with The Strain: The Night Eternal. The third book of writer Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan’s vampire virus end of days’ tale featuring a small band of flawed soldiers fighting a near infinite and ultimate evil that has set his sight on total domination and control of, well, everything. And for the most part, that evil, known as The Master, has achieved it. Hope has been all but lost throughout this comic rendition that has by far been the hardest of the three books to read. It is just so damned dark, devoid of nearly anything positive. Kind of a bummer in many ways.
At least that is the way it has been. About a few issues or so, things started to turn around and there are some glimmers and positive aspects that makes hope maybe, just maybe a possibility. That is, provided that our heroes don’t all turn on each other and end up on the wrong end of The Master’s steely hands. Yes, we have seen lots of hostility and even outright traitorous behaviors between our hero humans and last standing vampire. But things are headed in the proper direction now and our gang has knowledge on their side. They know where to strike and with what (think bright and explosive). The Master appears to be most displeased at this knowledge however. He is ready to play out his last card before things are called and the final battle begins.
That is pretty much in a nutshell where Issue #11 begins and proceeds. The penultimate issue. It promises to be a little “gas up” before the finale. But really, it should have said that the gas would be used for an explosive pre-finale fireworks display.
Also at play in this issue is a reunion of sorts between a certain family unit that has been grotesquely broken apart for some time now. I am not sure if I expected it or how it played out when I first read it. But, I will say that I actually smiled a little after the “shock” of the hit occurs. It might be a little bit traumatic for some. But if you have been reading my reviews for this title, you know that I have learned to have some sympathy for one of the main characters. Here, a little bit of redemption may be served up against The Master with him. We shall see.
Writer David Lapham and artist Mike Huddleston are two parts of the same body when they create this story. They have been working together on all three graphic novel renditions. And by this point, a strong cohesiveness and energy has been achieved. The writing is eloquent, even the curses. And the art, hypnotic. I have long been a fan of all the creepy coolness that has been oozing out of these issues like a nicely cleaved flesh wound. Nothing changes here other than me feeling a bit of sadness in realizing that after this very long strange (and twisted) trip we have been on, that we are almost to the finish line. I know once I am done, that I will never be the same. But I also know that I will miss Lapham and Huddleston’s collaboration together. These guys have really brought it and brought it all out. Kind of like The Master in a way. They have been relentless in their portrayal and it will be a rather bittersweet feeling for me once we are finished.
That said, as far as issues go, this was not really the best of the series. It is, I would say, what it was meant to be and what the title suggests; a little gas stop before the big wrap. Let’s blow this thing up guys with the finale. Let’s blow it up big.