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Review: ’30 Days of Night Omnibus’ Vol. 2

A major accomplishment in the treatment of vampire lore, 30 Days of Night Omnibus Vol. 2 continues its stride with this massive collection of four graphic novels into one edition. Somehow this beast of a book is impossible to put this down. The “30 Days of Night” series has become a staple of horror comic literature known for its gritty artwork and gripping storylines. If you are looking for something hardcore, there is absolutely nothing glamorous, or even soft, about these nasty and raw vampires.

Written By: Steve Niles, Matt Fraction, Ben Templesmith, Kelly Sue DeConnick
Art By: Kody Chamberlain, Ben Templesmith, Justin Randall, Bill Sienkiewicz
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Price: $29.99
Release: Oct. 3, 2012

When I read the original “30 Days of Night”, I interpreted vampirism as a metaphor for infections and blood diseases. Steve Niles continues the allegory in the “Dead Billy Dead,” arc and in this case, the clever metaphor is about abusive relationships. When Billy is bitten by a vampire, he runs to salvation from his ex-girlfriend, Maggie. As his body is slowly turning, Billy is becoming more aggressive, both physically and mentally, in his attitude towards Maggie. As he begins to demand more from Maggie, Billy can barely control his thirst for blood.

With co-writer Kelly Sue DeConnick, Niles further explores relationships by way of maternal instincts in “Eben and Stella.” Because she cannot bear children, Stella wonders if she can still raise a family with Eben, even though they are vampires. These stories show that there is so much more to the idea of vampirism than blood sucking, lust, and violence, though those are all included as well.

Kody Chamberlain’s artwork depicts the realism and heartache of being in an abusive relationship. To foreshadow how their bond is veering off, Chamberlain keeps Billy and Maggie in the same shot. Chamberlain always has Maggie reacting to everything Billy does, whether he is yelling at her, or vomiting blood into the skink. As Billy’s body is slowly transforming, Chamberlain perfectly captures a pained expression on his face, as if being a vampire is deeply hurting him on the inside.

In “Juarez,” Matt Fraction uses vampirism to run a social commentary on the kidnappings and extreme violence in Mexico. With a car full of victims for food, a clownish-looking vampire, Bingo, crosses the border to continue his killing spree. The only person getting in his way is Lex Nova, an ex-private eye and madman. In an interesting twist of dialogue, Fraction has Lex speak aloud his internal monologues, the kind you would usually read in the gumshoe novels.

Ben Templesmith’s abstract artwork uses shadows to design buildings and depict a gathering crowd in the backgrounds. In certain panels, Templesmith focuses on the emotions in close-ups, especially when Lex is making a sarcastic remark. From top to bottom, Lex looks like a tough and weary Hunter S. Thompson. As a storyteller, Templesmith takes the direction of the series to the coldness of Russia in “Red Snow.” The vampires here have more in mind than just killing, as they are seeking revenge against their captors.

“Beyond Barrow” is truly breathtaking to look at because of Bill Sienkiewicz’s watercolor effects. To highlight a vampire attack, the pages are drowned out in complete redness. Readers can only see what is happening through black shapes. In a minimalist approach, white dots are splashed across the panel to represent a snow storm.

Anyone who appreciates good vampire lore will be absolutely riveted by the stories and artwork in “30 Days of Night Omnibus Vol. 2.” These are genuinely frightening vampires, something that has been missing in pop culture these days. These omnibus editions prove that the “30 Days of Night” series stands the test of time as it continues to be one of the most exciting horror comics on the market nearly a decade later.

Rating: 4.5/5 skulls

Reviewed by Jorge Solis



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