David Lapham’s adaptation of The Strain, by Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan, has been interesting. The first volume played out like a modern take on a classic monster movie, where we only saw hints of the big bad and never really saw how bad things were getting. The second volume almost played out like an apocalypse. The third volume does something I didn’t expect. It plays out as a detective story after the world has ended.
The band of heroes facing the vampire menace has failed at every step to limit the outbreak, but a new weapon has emerged, along with an unexpected ally. The weapon is an ancient book with a cursed history, almost as if the vampires have been killing the owners whenever possible. The ally will have to wait until you pick up the comic.
Mike Huddleston’s art has been one of the best parts of this book from the beginning. The characters are exaggerated without becoming caricatures, and the interplay of shadows and light is some of the best I have seen. Huddleston’s style is unique, but there is something Mignola–esque in the heavy use of impenetrable shadow. I will admit that I don’t give enough credit to colorists and letterers. Dan Jackson’s colors do a spectacular job in this book. They maintain the mood without overshadowing the art. I am certain that Clem Robins’ letters are great, but I don’t know anything about lettering. Sorry, Clem.
It would be easy to try to classify this comic as a blend of this with a little of that, in the style of something else. That would be a mistake. This comic has elements of a noir-detective story and outbreak-horror, but it’s clear that it is only using those genres to explore classic horror. This comic resurrects the classic monster in a story with modern sensibilities. I had a blast with this series and think that any fan of horror should give it a look.
Four Mysteriously Cursed Ancient Books out of Five