David Lapham brings his idiosyncratic grasp of characterization and weird, disturbing sense of humor to the 30 Days of Night property with his latest book, 30 Days 'Til Death. Where the original book exemplified fear of the nocturnal predator, Lapham's has the steady, deliberate feel of a serial killer's methods to it.
Rufus Welleby is the classic tenant that, by the end of the mini-series, will probably have his neighbors saying, "He seemed like such a nice man." Quiet and polite, no one even looks Rufus' way when students from the local college go disappearing. But Rufus is a bloodsucker that is hiding out from elder vampires' death squads who have been sent to the New World to get rid of the young upstarts that caused the original trouble at Barrow. Lapham reveals all of this in an interesting first issue that is strongly paced and (like much of his work) oddly engrossing. Mixing in an odd cast of neighbors, street crime and the cold, deliberate homicidal tendencies of Rufus, this first issue isn't the bloodbath of the original 30 Days of Night, but is even more unsettling.
Rufus is the source of this disquiet. A predator dropped into Anytown, USA, he gives off the appearance of being just another everyman. However, it's clear that his civility is just a veneer, with little separating him and those around him from the animalistic thing inside.
The pages that show this off best also show off Lapham's skillful art. It can't be denied that a large portion of 30 Days of Night's appeal came from the Templesmith's artwork -- surreal, distorted, gross and frightening. Lapham does himself a huge service and doesn't even attempt to imitate this, but stays true to his own style. However, he plays into Templesmith's original work very well when Rufus reveals his true self to an unlucky victim and transforms from quiet neighbor to murderous beast. Joints bend in unnatural ways, teeth sharpen horribly and anything resembling humanity drains away. All Lapham, but every bit as good as Templesmith's most grotesque work.
That pretty much sums up everything that's good about 30 Days 'Til Death. It has what you loved about 30 Days of Night but with Lapham's own unique stamp on it. Prostitutes, stabbings, junkies, vampires, death squads -- what's not to like?
What did you think of this book?
Have your say at the Line of Fire Forum!