Monday, August 18, 2014

Review - The Strain: The Night Eternal #1

"I better be going. It'll be dark in under an hour."

The Strain novels were very popular when they first debuted years ago. Since then, Dark Horse has adapted some of the material into comic books, while FX has adapted it into a show. Dark Horse is never one to not finish what they started, which ensures their commitment to the final book in the trilogy. That commitment starts with The Strain: The Night Eternal #1. The issue is written by David Lapham, illustrated by Mike Huddleston, colored by Dan Jackson and lettered by Clem Robbins.

It’s been two years since the Master’s plan succeeded and a near apocalypse coated the world in darkness. Now able to roam freely, the Master’s legion of vampires rule the world—a horrifying police state where humans are harvested for blood. As humanity despairs, Dr. Ephraim Goodweather and an unlikely team of heroes continue their fight against extinction and hope to unlock the secret to the Master’s demise. That team includes a few familiar favorites, some of whom feel that others would do better to act in a way that demonstrates some commitment to the cause.

Considering The Strain: The Night Eternal #1 is merely a comic adaptation of the novel of the same name, there really isn't much in the way of surprises. Lapham does a great job getting the reader reacquainted with the dire straits humanity finds themselves in, offering a historic look at the pervasiveness of the parasitic infliction. The first half of the book move very quickly through time, while the second half slows thing down quite a bit in the interest of establishing the direction of the series. Dr. Goodweather seems to be something of a broken man, Vasiliy and Nora are believers in the cause and the rest of the world has really fallen apart. Despite that, there's a certain order found in the chaos that makes things feel a little comfortable for its inhabitants, save for the ever-present threat of vampires looking to suck their blood.

Visualizing The Strain is an exercise in imagining some of the most vile and gory images you can imagine. Huddleston does a great job presenting those images in a way that maintain that gore factor without being overwhelmingly violent and disgusting. The art shows Richard Corben influences, primarily as Huddleston relies on exaggerated body types to highlight the true fear inspired by the infected. Much of the illustrations' creep factor is boosted by darker tones that make the book feel like it could reside in the Hellboy universe, adding something of a pulpy mix to the modern day apocalypse tale. There are splashes of red where appropriate that remind the reader these are bloodthirsty beings though.

The Strain: The Night Eternal #1 is a solid start to the comic adaptation of the last book in The Strain trilogy. It brings back all the familiar players and keeps the pace of the overall story going in a positive direction. Lapham writes it in a way that makes the book very accessible to those who aren't familiar with the previous two books, offering something of a quick recap of events to get the reader up to speed. Huddleston's illustrations add an appropriate level of drama to the book and do a fantastic job of telling a story when there's no dialogue. The Strain: The Night Eternal #1 is perfect for fans of stories where the future of humanity looks bleak.

The Strain: The Night Eternal #1 is in stores August 20 with interiors below.


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