The Strain hit the public consciousness around the time that news of the FX TV series and Guillermo del Toro’s involvement with the original property began being bandied about the interwebs. People who had never heard of horror comics began to anticipate the show’s release, but many were unclear exactly as to the particulars of the story. Publisher Dark Horse provides a sneak preview into the world of The Strain with a first-issue-for-a-dollar sale of the comic, and, if you’re like me, you’ll eagerly test the waters before committing to yet another TV show.
CDC doctor and researcher Ephraim Goodweather just wants to spend his weekend hanging out with his son Zack. When a plane loses all radio communication after landing at JFK in the wee hours of the morning, the doctor is dragged into an investigation that baffles everyone. Simultaneously, the coverage of the strange event reminds a Romanian immigrant of a local folk legend he thought forgotten when he moved to the US.
I had basic knowledge of the plot of The Strain #1 from the teaser trailers for the show, but the comic opens a little more slowly; however, the combination of del Toro and Hogan’s story and Lapham’s script make things unfold in an organized, puzzle-piece manner. Readers don’t get everything up front, but nothing presented in the short issue is extraneous. How everything fits together is not yet clear, but the process to piece things together is the adventure.
Huddleston’s artwork isn’t perfect, but it fits the subject matter well. The most important images are heavily detailed, and the colors are allowed to do the work for less central bits. For anyone worried about the visceral, dark E.M. Gist cover, it’s all good; the cover is the most violent part of Issue #1, although things should get intense as the comic progresses.
The Strain #1 is just a taste of another interpretation of the vampire tale; however, there are plenty of questions to answer in the scant, twenty-plus pages. How does it spread? How will it manifest? Why is someone shipping a coffin on a plane anyway? I’m ready to find out, and this has definitely sold me on the TV show, as well as the comic.
4.5 “Pick-pick-picks” out of 5