"Immortality is Forever" and "Sympathy for the Devil"
Writer: Gerald Sanchez
Artist: Lionel Ordaz
Publisher: Damage Comics
Plot: Ash is a vampire and he hates it. He's put off by the media's romantic notions of what a vampire should be. After killing and feeding at a club, he must make a hasty getaway from the cops. He's also being tailed. Meanwhile, a stranger makes him an offer which could cure his raging hunger.
Comments: One's initial reaction upon surveying the covers of the first two issues Damage's Ash would be to recoil at the gruesome gratuitous depictions of blood and violence, but what else would one expect from a horror book on vampires? How about a refreshing new (if not altogether original) take on the blood sucking fiends. Ash's premise harkens back to Richard Matheson's masterpiece I am Legend but its narrative, unlike Matheson's book, depends less on taut suspense and more on shock value and a gruesome depiction of what it's like to suck blood. Gerald Sanchez seems to go out of his way to point out how much it sucks! For those of you unfamiliar with Matheson's book, it's about a biological disease which turns people into vampires. In this comic, vampirism is also a disease, "A virus that has been glorified and taken out of content" says the publisher's website. This is the kind of comic that would have never seen the light of days in the post-comics code 1950s but which is a creative byproduct of independent talent. While I didn't exactly think it was as revolutionary as their creators hyped it up to be, I was nevertheless both intrigued by its determination to mix revolting imagery and less than likeable characters with a solid storyline. I like the artwork as well. Lionel Ordaz and Oscar Rodriguez do a good job of injecting a streetwise ethos into their drawings and set a dark mood foreshadowing the violent content. Their vampires are terrifying creatures, unlike the romantic ideals of an Anne Rice novel. The coloring is also very well done, I especially like the use of the black balloons and captions. While it has been done before, it's a device which works well here especially contrasted against panels with more light and color in them.
Final Word: From the excessive depictions of blood stained fangs and gore to the creepy zombie like eeriness of the monsters dwelling within its pages, to its treatment of vampirism as an affliction which leaves the protagonist a ravaged corpse, vomiting at every turn, rather than a gift of immortality, Damage takes a crack at reinventing the genre and just barely misses hitting one out of the park.
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