There are new vampires on the scene courtesy of writer Eliot Rahal, artist Emily Pearson, colorists Fred C. Stresing and Macy Kahn, and letter Crank! Vain, the new title from Oni Press, is a World War II-era title about bloodsucking bandits, and the first issue is here. Is it worth a read?
The Vain #1 is a mixed bag as far as the writing goes, featuring a protagonist that feels, so far, like every overzealous agent hoping to prove himself to his superiors. There's little offered to make the reader feel invested in him, though his investigation does serve as a sufficient tool with which to observe the more interesting characters: the vampires. The vampires themselves ride the line of cool and corny, but hey, Angel from Buffy, wore suede button-ups, and he got by just fine. Maybe corny comes with the territory. What works best about Rahal's script is interesting way in which it plays with expectations. At every turn, there are narrative quirks that subvert what readers believe is about to happen, which smaller things such as the beginning, which has a fun "Wait, who is narrating this?" moment, as well as the ending, which completely changes the course of the plot. The moment that makes the issue, however, is the confrontation between a guard and one of the vampires, Lost. ("Lost," you know?) Lost proves a point to the man in a gory way that is jarring, genuinely creepy, and also a little darkly funny. If The Vain can deliver more of that and make the narrator as interesting as the other characters, this is going to be a fun ride.
The art from Emily Pearson is definitely the biggest draw of The Vain. With previous titles from Black Mask Studios, The Wilds, and Snap Flash Hustle, the latter of which she both drew and colored to beautiful pastel effect, Pearson has made a name for herself as one of the most unique, talented artists in the indie scene. She brings life to this story about a clan of undead travelers, creating memorable pages with both the intense, violent bloodbaths just as well as conversational scenes. Pearson is a stylist, with work that looks like no one else in the comics game, and colorist Fred C. Stresing and color assistant Macy Kahn do a good job over her lines with a mixture of warm and cool palettes that creates a unique feel for The Vain. The letters by Crank! are mostly very good, with the narration and dialogue balloons styled and placed beautifully, but the SFX could have used a bit more energy in certain areas. The bloated yellow BLAM! in the exceptional confrontation mentioned earlier is especially ill-fitting, but it does little to take away from this nicely written, exceptionally drawn comic.