Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Review - Graveyard Shift #1

"Okay, I know I'm still drunk but...that was weird, right?"

There are three things in life you can count on: death, taxes and vampires. At least, vampires are reliable in the past decade or so, as seemingly everything creative to come out in that time frame offers some variant of the bloodthirsty individuals. There's still the potential for some interesting stories to be told about them and that's what Image Comics is aiming for in Graveyard Shift #1, written by Jay Faerber, illustrated by Fran Bueno and lettered by Ed Dukeshire.

Liam is a cop who's really good at his job. All his experience doesn't prepare him for one particular bust that pits him against criminals who are nothing like he's ever seen before. Fortunately for him, work is where all the craziness is, as he's fortunate enough to have a steady relationship with Hope, an aspiring artist. Liam isn't really to prevent work coming home with him, turning his present (and future) upside down.

There's a letter at the end of Graveyard Shift #1 where writer Faerber intimates that "you could argue that vampires are a bit played out." He's right and it's something that--unfortunately--Graveyard Shift #1 suffers from. There's a certain lethargy about the story itself tied to the antagonists being vampires, even if Faerber does an admirable job of making it about more than just that. At the core of the issue is Liam's quick realization that there are vampires in the world and that he'll face seemingly insurmountable odds to vanquish them. It's something seen most recently in The Strain, among a long list of other works that pit good vs. evil with the inevitable soul of a loved one up for grabs. Aside from that familiarity, Faerber's pacing is jolting; the story moves from a drug bust to a quiet dinner to a home invasion to a moment of reflection.

Bueno does some great work on the art in Graveyard Shift #1, presenting characters who feel kinetic when they interact with one another. The vampires are depicted as being closer to human than Nosferatu, save for a paler skin complexion and an abundance of sharp, jagged teeth. There's great application of shading for the effect of shadows by candlelight by Bueno that further make the book's setting feel realistic. And despite the darker hue, the colors used throughout warm the book up and make it feel alive. The aforementioned action sequences are very frenetic and really get the reader's attention in a very positive way.

Graveyard Shift #1 would be a fantastic book had it released way back when it was originally intended to. Instead, it treads on all too familiar ground when it comes to vampires and how humans react/deal with them. Faerber's story is pretty straightforward and you definitely can't fault him for wanting to get a project that was essentially done out the door, regardless of the timing. Bueno's illustrations are superb and infuse the book with an appropriate level of horror. Graveyard Shift #1 is a book that vampire fans will definitely want to check out; otherwise, the plot feels very recognizable to anyone who's been immersed in the vampire deluge the past few years.

Graveyard Shift #1 is in stores now.


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