Nerdlocker Comics In Review: The Strain and B.P.R.D!


The Strain: The Fall
The Strain: The Fall #1
Writer: David Lapham
Artist: Mike Huddleston
Cover Artist: Dan Jackson
On Sale Date: July 17, 2013
Publisher: Dark Horse

If you are suffering from vampire fatigue, you are not alone. The portrayal of Nosferatu in all media runs the gambit from the horrific to tales of whimsy: Buffy the Vampire Slayer, True Blood, American Vampire, 30 Days of Night, Twilight and everything in between. This is a different take on the genre with more in common with a Contagion than Interview with the Vampire. It is very visceral and there are no hints of any romantic subtext. Vampires are a scourge and humans are merely a means to an end.

To read this in the context you must be made aware of the genesis of this series. It is based on a trilogy of books co-written and plotted by Guillermo del Toro (Blade II, Pan’s Labryinth, Pacific Rim) and Chuck Hogan. This is both an adaptation and supplement to the series itself. This will also be a television series on FX. If you read this after reading the trilogy there are plenty of gaps and blanks that David Lapham fills in with his tale. This first issue isn’t the most accessible to new readers. Honestly, if I hadn’t read the trilogy this book would not make sense, as the book does not take any time to acclimate the reader to what has transpired in the first volume. I can appreciate not wanting to use the limited space to recap all the events but a single page of text would have made this much more accessible, especially to someone who sees issue #1 and want to jump in.

If you are a reader jumping into this series completely blind, I suggest you pick up the trade or at least read the first book, as there is little to no explanation of who the characters are, their motivations, and what the goal is. This issue focuses on the Occido Lumen and its history, which will certainly be pivotal going forward but for the uninitiated, take note of this. Since the book does not issue a clear mission statement, let me be clear, the goal of the protagonist is simple: Survive.

Despite these flaws, this is a very well crafted book that I found to be engrossing. This specific comic holds more value to those who have already read the Strain Trilogy. The greatest strength of David Lapham’s writing is to draw those readers into the story despite knowing where it will presumably end. Even though this is an adapted work, Lapham readily explores avenues that are foreclosed in a book and can only be expressed in this medium, that combines artwork with narrative boxes. He expands the history and makes this world his own.

I give this 3.5 Nerdskulls. If you have read the book trilogy, 4 Nerdskulls.

B.P.R.D. Hell On Earth #109
Writer: Mike Mignola, John Arcudi
Artist: Laurence Campbell
Colorist: Dave Stewart
Cover Artist: Dave Johnson
On Sale Date: July 17, 2013
Publisher: Dark Horse

This is the third and final part of the Wasteland arc. I have been reading B.P.R.D. intermittently but after this issue, I have added it to my pull list. John Arcudi has been an under appreciated writer for years; Major Bummer comes to mind, but displays great synergy with Mignola that has developed through the years. For new readers the B.P.R.D. is a spin off of Hellboy. The government backed supernatural agency continues to deal with all manner of supernatural threats. While not quite a widescreen comic, there is plenty of action, the artwork does not shy away from violence and the bodycount is high. This is a pancea to those who loath decompressed storytelling.

Full Disclosure: I am not a fan of jumping into stories mid arc, but if you are so inclined what you will find here is an alacrity in the writing and the pace never slows down even in character moments; it pushes forward just like life. This issue was so good, that I went to my local comic shop and bought BPRD 107 and 108 so I could read the entire arc. That’s the highest endorsement I can give.

There is also a short synopsis page so you are clued in. The gist of it is a rescue mission for missing BPRD agents after an event has turned ordinary people into monsters and left the city decimated. The transformation seems to be triggered by a gas. Unlike traditional superhero comics, things don’t end with a nice flourish with everyone none the worse for wear, there are consequences. The ending of this issue is particularly poignant. There is even what feels like a spiritual cameo by the Goon in this issue.

What does this book do well? Everything. I give it 5 out of 5 Nerdskulls.

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