by William Harms, Nick Postic, Francis Tsai (Top Cow, 2008)

It is, perhaps, ironic, that the historical Vlad Dracula became notorious for impaling his victims on stakes. After all, his namesake, the vampire Dracula, can be killed by that very same technique.

In Impaler, a new graphic novel collection by William Harms, Vlad isn't the bad guy, he's the anti-heroic good guy, the man who commits acts of evil for good and noble reasons -- fighting vampires. And, although the story begins in Wallachia in 1460, it soon shifts its attention to modern-day New York City, where a drifting vessel in the harbor unleashes a new plague of vampires on the world. And guess who's been waiting in limbo all this time to do battle with evil once more?

The vampires here are pure malice, evil far more akin to Steve Niles' 30 Days of Night than to the more "civilized" vamps of the Twilight, True Blood and even Buffy series. The story is solid, with the city quickly overrun and the survivors fighting for their lives -- and perhaps not too eager to trust the bearded stranger who appears in their midst with a sword. There's a dramatic cliffhanger ending, too, that will send you skittering for volume two.

The biggest weakness here is the art, handled by Nick Postic and Francis Tsai. At times, the two artists seem to be striving for the rough-edged look put to good use by Niles' longtime partner, Ben Templesmith, but Postic and Tsai fall short of the mark. I enjoyed the story here, but for my money, Impaler is not much to look at.

review by
Tom Knapp

11 December 2010

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