American Gothic Press 2015
Written by Steve Niles
Illustrated by Nat Jones
Lettered by Marshall Dillon
Last issue we saw a couple humans run from the Vampire city and be chased only to find themselves surrounded by Werewolves. That’s when the vampires arrived and attacked it’s also where we pick up this issue.
I am totally enthralled by this book. That Nat can do what he does with his artwork to match the storytelling by Steve and turn this into a futuristic throwback to a classic horror movie utterly amazes me. The darkness of the art mimics the old black and white feel with patches of red just for emphasis really makes this haunting. For the opening here who needs words when you’ve got Nat to the story visually? It’s powerful and creepy.
That this world has so few humans, werewolves and even vampires with limited resources to further any of the species is fascinating. As if gluttony and war have decimated populations to the point that they have to be careful of what they do, how they proceed and if and when they decide to fight battles. This is really eloquently display by the ruler of the vampire city, who looks dead on Nosferatu to me.
We see him and his top two lieutenants talk about the city and what’s happening to ensure their survival. The plan they have is great though the impatience of even a long lived vampire can be tested when using frail human labor. It’s a nice look at how the city is run in a short segment. You have to admire what you see here because while we always see them as these monsters who have no sense of working with anyone but themselves they do well as a society much more so than you realize. That in itself is frightening as we see them make plans to ensure not only the survival of their own kind but only their own kind.
Also that the werewolf leader promises no harm shall come to the humans is nice and even better that are wary of that is great to see. Still the logic of those who are no longer fully human shouldn’t be overlooked here. Without working together no faction will ultimately survive and with the humans know of the vampires plans well there’s a reason they were hunted like they were. What we learn from the talks they have should alarm any reader as well as thrill them with the possibilities this world holds. This is a time and place where all the creatures you’ve been terrified to think about are real and the most endangered among them are humans.
So the two humans go with the werewolves to a rumored city. One where it’s guardian meets them. He informs them his master has been waiting for them to arrive. For centuries they have waiting watching the battlefields and collecting the remains to build their ranks. While not ghouls or zombies, which supposedly also exist, it is the city created by one man who named Frankenstein.
There really is this broad scope of a world presented to us and as we watch parts of it come to life for us we see the eternal power struggle play out before us as it always has. Who’s to say that if the vampires are defeated that the others won’t try to assert themselves over the others? It’s unwritten that once goals are achieved alliances are broken. But until such a time as that happens you should marvel at this dark, bleak world that harkens the soul back to the days when black and white horror movies were scary, not because of the bloodshed but what they represented.