I’m obsessed with a good writer/artist pairing in comics. The kind that makes me excited just on word alone. Writer Steve Niles and artist Menton3 provide that sort of ambitious coupling that sends chills straight to my gut in this month’s special “Nosferatu Wars” one-shot. And when combined with the word and context behind “Nosferatu” you know it’s going to be “bag and board” worthy.
WRITTEN BY: Steve Niles
ART BY: Menton3
PUBLISHER: Dark Horse
RELEASE: March 12, 2014
The plot of this horror one-shot is introductory. There is no beginning, middle, end. There are a series of events shadowing vampires Tarquin and Moria as they live, love, fight, and hunt during the black plague. In order to give us some context of their lives, Niles seamlessly interlaces flashbacks and possible flash-forwards. This technique also serves to make the plotlines time frames enigmatic. We’re not quite sure which plotline has us in the present. Overall, this creates a circular-type understanding of their existence, which is simply impressive.
Niles sets up an interesting character dynamic. Two vampire lovers against the world, “enemies in life, lovers in death” …and other romantic literary tropes are added into a juxtaposition of the pair’s humanity and their absolutely brutal impulses. In a landscape of literary bipolar disorder, Tarquin and Moria go from gentle, kind beings, to loyalty-driven vigilantes, love-driven murderers, utterly brutal fiends and back again. His writing really accentuates this as he uses a gothic-romance tone—a tone that’s fairly rare for Niles though shockingly unique to his writing.
True to Menton3’s artistic nature, the color palette is dark and rich, the faces and bodies are harsh and slender throughout the two styles of illustration he ping-pongs between in “Nosferatu Wars”. When his more sketch-like, rudimentary illustrations break into his velvety gallery-style art it’s like a high–voltage current running to your shock collar. It exacerbates the fear and heightens the senses in handpicked panels.
Without giving anything away, I must confess the ending twist made me laugh for an abrupt moment. I’m still not sure how I feel about it but a.) I believe in the future, we will get an answer on why this twist was important to utilize, and b.) it’s a fresh take on the vampire genre. Like…a never before seen take. The one-shot ends on this twist leaving you slightly unsatisfied and craving more.
I enjoyed getting acquainted with Tarquin and Moria, consuming the stunning art, and obsessing over the hauntingly beautiful bloodshed. Though the plot was not completely stand-alone, which is uncharacteristic of a one-shot comic, I do think (and hope) that we will see these characters in a series of one-shots. Or however it’s done, I believe we will see more of this nicely established world and its brilliant characters.
Reviewed by Bree Ogden
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