Who's it by?
I, Vampire #1 is written by Joshua Hale Fialkov (Echoes) and drawn by Andrea Sorrentino (God of War).
What's the history?
The star of I, Vampire is Lord Andrew Bennett, a man from the 16th century who was transformed into one of the undead but swore to himself never to relinquish his humanity. He was introduced in issue #290 of DC's horror comic House of Mystery in 1981, invented by JM DeMatteis and Tom Sutton.
His primary antagonist was Mary, Queen of Blood, who had been his mortal lover but was corrupted when he transformed her into a vampire.
The 'I... Vampire' storyline ran for two years in House of Mystery before its conclusion, and Bennett has made intermittent appearances in the DC Universe since then.
Bennett's backstory appears largely unchanged, but there has been some modernising of the character. Gone are the frock coats and evening wear, and instead we have a handsome, young-looking man wearing jeans, a satchel and not much else. Mary is equally young and pretty and even more naked.
This is a hipster/Buffy inspired redesign of the I, Vampire concept.
I, Vampire #1 consists of two interweaving threads. In one, Bennett and Mary talk quite amicably about their situation and antagonism.
In the second, our vampiric hero hunts down his enemy's undead children, and begins to understand just how vast her plot against mankind might be.
What's the verdict?
Put aside any prejudices you have against I, Vampire. It is all too easy to roll your eyes at the thought of a series trying to pander to the Twilight generation. This is one of the most elegantly executed of the New 52 so far.
This is an example of vampires done right. Their powers and their limits are established, but not obsessed over. The true spirit of vampirism is captured, not so much through Bennett's slaying of his kin, but in the alienness of his conversation with Mary. Their relationship has a human element to it, but there is something ancient and weird in the way these foes casually interact, flirting even as they plot each other's destruction.
The pair's history is clearly outlined (if not in great detail) as part of the narrative, and we learn all we need to know at this point about the former lovers and vampirism in general without any unnecessary breaks in the storytelling.
Andrea Sorrentino's artwork is absolutely spot on for this title - gritty and weird with an excellent use of shadow, reminiscent of Jae Lee's work on Marvel Comics' Dark Tower adaptations. It is integral to the strong horror theme of the book (which continues the theme from related titles including Swamp Thing and Animal Man).
This is a fine 'jump-on' point for new readers, establishing the characters and concepts quickly and clearly. Where other titles have felt somewhat isolated, it is good to see this subtly tying back into the larger world of superheroes while maintaining its unique perspective.
I, Vampire deserves to be the surprise hit of the relaunch. Sinster and beautiful, with an intriguing pair of stars, you'll be left thirsting (sorry!) for the next instalment.
> Buy the digital version of I, Vampire #1
> Read our review of Captain Atom #1
Watch The New 52 introduction video from DC Comics below: