The longstanding story of Hideyuki Kikuchi’s Vampire Hunter D enters beautifully into the comic book world. The anime-like illustrations by Michael Broussard make the reader feel like you’re watching an animated television series, which happens to be currently in development. The first of “over 30 novels based on the titular character” began its popular run in 1983 and has since “sold more than 17 million copies and has been translated into more than a dozen languages.”
Such popularity has also brought about anime feature films, and now the comic book adaptations fall to Stranger Comics, and they do not disappoint. The cover alone perfectly describes the wonderfully mysterious world about to be entered, including vampires with glowing eyes, horrifyingly grotesque creatures, and a sword fighting champion destined to become humanity’s shield and fight those who wish to vanquish those on Earth and beyond.
Writer Brandon Easton brings Earth’s protector, D, to another planet searching to satisfy his bloodlust. Message from Mars, previously unpublished from Kikuchi, is brought to comics from the vantage point of a station worker, Cecile. During the reader’s journey into this exciting narrative, Cecile recounts what has happened and what will come to pass as Easton shares who this character is, while providing a glorious introduction of D as he finds out quickly how many vampires will need to be destroyed along his path.
Broussard, along with artist Sheldon Mitchell, present vibrant colors throughout this first issue, highlighting fight scenes with bright power strikes, computer displays with solar diagrams or emergency warnings, and spaceships arriving during vivid sunsets. These amazing bursts of color enhance an already dynamic story further, adding to the sense of watching a wonderful feature animation.
Issue #1 presents an intriguing storyline with two dominant characters. D’s path seems more linear, while Cecile’s narration seems to be drawing part of her past to the present day, making the reader wonder, “Will these two cross paths?” One seems to be reserved despite significant information she obtains and also lingers on the edge of a complicated relationship, while the other is fierce, violent, and relies on a symbiotic being for support. If you happen to notice the creepy, demon-like left hand of our vampire hunter on the cover page, this entity, known quite literally as Left Hand, provides D with magical powers during harrowing action scenes.
This comic book hurls its reader into the middle of a long, post-apocalyptic tale, while successfully crafting pieces of the story together to allow you to gauge what is going on and where it might lead to next. The artwork and dialogue combine to make an exquisite continuation of an extremely successful series, and it’s guaranteed that you’ll wish this series lasts longer than its scheduled five-part run.
Vampire Hunter D: Message from Mars #1 will be available on Wednesday, November 16.