Review: ‘The Strain: The Fall’ #1

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In its highly anticipated return, “The Strain: The Fall” #1 strikes back with even more vampires and biting action. This is a dark apocalyptic vision of New York being overrun by hungry bloodsuckers. If you loved the best-selling trilogy of novels by Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan, you’re damn well going to love the comic book adaptation.

WRITTEN BY: David Lapham
ART BY: Mike Huddleston
PUBLISHER: Dark Horse Comics
PRICE: $19.99
RELEASE: July 17, 2012

In order for their survival, vampires have been living off the humans for many centuries. Humanity knows that these creatures of the night exist, but as always, we choose to keep them a secret locked away. Hidden from the rest of the world, there is a book made of silver, which can foretell their inevitable destruction. Now that the Master has conquered New York, he plans to take over the world next. If the sun does not rise, there is no stopping the next wave of vampire attacks. How will a small band of heroes prevent The Master from covering the planet in complete darkness?

Writer David Lapham moves away from the police procedural aspects of the first novel, and narrates a different kind of story. Darker in tone and more violent, this is a group ensemble/adventure tale. The team that Ephraim worked so hard to put together is now slowly drifting apart. After failing to stick to his sobriety, Ephraim has hit his downfall and succumbed to his alcoholic thirst. Will Ephraim rise to the call and be a hero for his son? Or, will he remain thirsty for alcohol, just like the vampires are thirsty for blood?

I was wondering how Lapham would adapt the Concerned Citizens brigade into the story. The Concerned Citizens are a neighborhood watch-type team, armed with heavy artillery. They are protecting their broken-down neighborhood from riots and looting. This resistance group thinks they are dealing criminals and junkies, not bloodsuckers. Though they are in a just a few pages, readers get everything they need to know.

In his artwork, Mike Huddleston depicts our protagonist in shadows, as if he lost all hope. In his poses, Ephraim doesn’t stand tall and strong as he did before. Looking way hung-over, Ephraim doesn’t have the energy to actually keep fighting the good fight. In his illustrations, Huddleston captures the struggling battle between sobriety and relapse in Ephraim’s facial expressions. It’s a serious and realistic depiction of an alcoholic losing self-control.

Huddleston takes away the sexiness and romanticism out of his portrayal of vampires. When Zack confronts his mother-turned-vampire, she is unappealingly naked and sickly thin like an anorexic. She doesn’t see Zack as her son; she sees him as food. Aimed at shock value, Huddleston takes a very creepy turn when he depicts naked vampires.

“The Strain: The Fall” #1 sets up a high octane adventure filled with action and suspense. Even if you haven’t read the novel, newcomers will not be at a loss in the narrative. It’s very easy for new readers to jump on in.

4/5 Skulls

Reviewed by – Jorge Solis