30 Days of Night: Beyond Barrow
by Steve Niles, Bill Sienkiewicz (IDW, 2008)

Maybe he's just running out of ideas.

Sure, the 30 Days of Night series has given us some impressive material since its debut more than five years ago. But Beyond Barrow, the ninth book in the series, falls flat on its fiercely fanged face.

The small, impoverished town of Barrow, Alaska, having been beset by vampires during its annual month of winter darkness, has apparently come up with enough funds to buy its own Caribbean island -- but instead, they beefed up security to make the frigid town vampire-proof so they can continue to live their simple northern lives in fear and big, heavy parkas. So, since the vampires can't get to Barrow, writer Steve Niles decides to send up a truckload of wealthy thrillseekers, who set out into the snow to see themselves one o' them there blood-suckin' fiends and take pictures.

Of course, you know it won't end well, and you can pretty much guess that if anyone survives, it's going to be the smart-mouth kid who doesn't want to be there in the first place. And of course the tourists are going to do stupid things to get them killed quickly: "Something's out there, so let me stick my head out the window to look!" "Hey, we're on the run from vampires, so let's hide in this dark and creepy cave!"

To make things even grimmer, Niles decided regular old vampires weren't good enough, so he invented a new breed of ice-vampires that are so durned tough, they can beat up a trio of regular old vanilla-flavored vampires without breaking a sweat. It's, um, overkill, Steve.

Illustrator Bill Sienkiewicz attempts to be Ben Templesmith here, but the art never gels. It's just unpleasant, is all.

There's no denying 30 Days of Night has been good to us, but maybe it's time for Niles to move on and try something new. Who knows, maybe he'll come up with some fresh ideas for Barrow again somewhere down the road.

review by
Tom Knapp

9 August 2008

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