In Review: Vampire State Building #2

I think I'm done with this series.

The covers: A quartet of gruesomeness to find for this second issue featuring the most iconic building in New York City. The A cover is by Charlie Adlard. Elevator doors have closed, leaving a dead body squished between them bleeding on the floor. The dead man’s left hand is reaching forward as if trying to avoid death. Blood is on the floor and is splattered generously at the bottom of the silver and green doors. Their white center becomes a white streak that carries all the way up the center of the illustration. Nice, but the art is too small. The B by Stefano Gaudiano has five members of a SWAT teaming making their way through the building in the dark unaware of the two vampires up high, in the foreground, looking down at them. Good, creepy cover that teases an actual event within this issue. I love when covers do this without spoiling major events. My hat is off to Gaudiano for this frontpiece. Even better is the C cover, the King Kong Parody, by Diego Bernard. The leader of the vampires, U’tlun’ta is a monstrous sized creature atop the building reenacting the classic conclusion from King Kong, complete with biplanes circling him. I love this. It’s fantastic. The final cover is the D (Sketch Cover) by Adlard. This has a sketch by the interior artist gracing this cover. It’s a neat way to see what a sketch looks like from Adlard and if one enjoys his visuals, this is one to seek out. Overall grades: A B-, B A-, C A+, and D B+

The story: Last issue was the set up, so now the action begins. On the 82nd floor of the Empire State Building the survivors of the vampires’ first attack discuss and argue what to do. Terry argues that they should go downstairs, “…a utility shaft, a door to the parking lot…Whatever we gotta try it.” He asks who’s going with him and he and Mary, Gabrielle, and Jackson leave the others behind. Mary is shocked when she spies the first body on the floor. They make their way down to the 75th floor where victims are presented to U’tlun’ta, the revived leader of the vampires, who now refer to themselves as the Hamatsa. Writers Ange & Patrick Renault have Terry spy Gavin, but his friend can’t get away from the Hamatsa. Outside the building the police are trying to make sense of what’s going on inside the building. Professor Dent arrives to help the police with the layout of the building, but he can’t speak with them because a SWAT team has been sent inside. You can predict what their results are. Given the premise, you can predict most of this book. You know the humans will have a hard time getting out, with their numbers dwindling as they make their way, while the police officials stumble. However, there is a terrific exterior scene on 16 – 21, with some very exciting moments. The police get some background before the conclusion of what they’re fighting, though it’s not clear if they believe it. The book ends focusing on U’tlun’ta who has a decree for his minions who take his command to heart. This is a typical horror story going through the usual paces. It’s enjoyable, but not earth shattering. Overall grade: B-

The art: The dark coloring on this book is making it difficult to enjoy the art by Charlie Adlard. The first page is a perfect example of this. It’s hard to make out who’s speaking in the room because it’s so dim. Better is the final panel, showing the path this group has decided to take. The first four panels on Page 2 are practically useless: if the reader can’t see what’s happening, why would they have any attachment to these characters or this story? When U’tulun’ta makes the scene he and his followers can be easily seen. The exteriors that follow the police are better, with characters and settings easy to discern. Also easily seen is the action sequence on 16 – 21. The climax on 20 is fantastic. I love the points of view and the bodies in flight. The final two pages neatly show the king of these monsters exerting his power. I especially like this throne — that is truly awesome! I would have liked this better had I been able to see what was occurring in all the panels. Maybe this book would have looked better in black and white? Too similar to The Walking Dead? Overall grade: C+

The colors: I am disappointed in Sébastien Gérard’s colors. He goes for realism, rather than allowing readers to see the story unfold before them. It’s difficult to make out characters because panels are too dark, and if one can’t see who’s who, the reader won’t care what happens to them. This is a comic book about vampires, cheating on reality with the colors is the least of its fantastical movements. Surprisingly, the scenes featuring the vampires are brighter, as are the exteriors of the Empire State Building — at night! As I made my way through this book I began to wonder if I might enjoy this book better if it was in black and white. Disappointing. Overall grade: D

The letters: As with the previous issue, no letterer is credited in this book. The text includes scene settings, dialogue, sounds, police tape, transmissions, computer text, and the three word tease for next issue. The scene settings are done in a Jazz Age font, though they are difficult to read due to their coloring — I’m sensing a pattern. The dialogue is fine, but is the same size and thickness when people whisper and yell. Disheartening. The police tape and computer text look realistic. The transmissions are done in italics giving them a metallic sound. The sounds are several and wonderful, with those on 16 – 21 spot on. Overall grade: B-

The final line: I think I’m done with this series. The story is predictable and the visuals are difficult to see at times. I could have used my money for the first two issues to purchase a novel. I wanted to have a fun tale of vampires loose in the ESB and I wanted thrilling visuals. I’m not getting that. Disappointing. Overall grade: C+

To see the covers visit my Instagram account: patrickhayesscifipulse

Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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