Just in time for spooky season, and with the success of the series that saw the heroes of the DC Universe battling against the threat of zombies in DCeased, comes DC vs Vampires, a series that looks to pit the Justice League and company against legions of the undead. In a story such as this, no hero is safe, which is evident from some of the ghastly deaths we see in the debut issue, though there are more than a few rough edges when it comes to blending the world of superheroes with that of the walking undead.
To start with, I am an absolute sucker for these kinds of stories. I loved Marvel Zombies, I loved the Elseworlds trilogy that saw Batman becoming a vampire and descending into madness as a result, and I love alternate comic book tales where no one is safe and any character can die at any moment, for any reason. These stories are able to take away the "safety blanket" when it comes to readers and their favorite characters, and there's just something that, as a horror fan, you can get a kick out of witnessing a character meet a gruesome end that would otherwise never happen in the normal continuity of a superhero universe. It's unfortunate that DC vs Vampires runs into a few roadblocks along the way.
To start, the writing team of Tynion and Rosenberg really have a fantastic understanding of these characters, even when it comes to some of them being secret vampires and how that fact would ultimately affect their normally-kind nature. Setting up the main protagonist as Andrew Bennett is an inspired choice, considering he is one of the most popular bloodsuckers of DC Comics thanks to his New 52 book. Whereas DCeased saw the zombie apocalypse ripping into the DC Universe with no subtlety to speak of, the idea behind this battle against the undead sees the vampires rising in secret and lending a sense of paranoia to the reader, especially when a major hero is revealed to be a member of the undead.
There are some truly fantastic story beats here, especially with Tynion and Rosenberg's take on Lex Luthor, who falls to the vampire scourge alongside the ranks of the Legion of Doom but never loses his elevated sense of pride in the process. For fans looking to see some of the biggest heroes suffer unspeakable demise, there certainly is a major one here, though you'd certainly need to argue about said character's current relevance in the scheme of things in the DCU.
Where DC vs Vampires really stumbles is in its artwork and direction, wherein I found myself sometimes confused as to what was happening, especially when it came to the decision of completely painting a flashback in blood-red colors to fit the tone. While a great idea in theory, in practice, it feels like it can sometimes stifle the action and story beats. There are numerous times through the issue wherein no environments are shown in the background of panels, once again stifling the ability of a reader to follow along with what is happening.
DC vs Vampires is a decent enough start and it works well at following in the footsteps of DCeased in presenting a world where the heroes might not manage to save the day, I just wish it was able to do so in a manner that was less muddled in its presentation and threw in a bit more detail when it came to its backgrounds.
Published by DC Comics
On October 26th, 2021
Written by James Tynion IV and Matthew Rosenberg
Art by Otto Schmidt
Colors by Otto Schmidt0comments
Letters by Tom Napolitano
Covers by Francesco Mattina, Jorge Molina & Ejikure