Trade Review – The Strain Volumes 1-2

Dark Horse Comics has had a pretty strong horror line for some time now even though once in awhile they don’t put out as many books, but when they do, we get gems like The Strain.

The Strain was adapted by David Lapham and Mike Huddleston on a book by Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan.  It is the first book of a trilogy of which this is the first adaptation, the other two soon to follow.  Though I have not read the original novels, I found it to be quite entertaining and not just another vampire tale, mainly because of Lapham’s writing.

The book does have all the familiar vampire elements in it though, such as sunlight, beheadings, what does and does not work, etc.  It is stuff you have read or seen many times before, but it works in these books because the storytellers are so strong.  There are a few twists and turns thrown in such as a vampire truce, which is behind all the motivation in the book and a few more along the way that keep you hooked.

The characters are also very well rounded out, especially the lead Ephraim Goodweather.  He is fallible and flawed and under Lapham you actually empathize with him.  The other character I enjoyed the most was the Harknessian Strakian and the ‘tough guy’ Vasiliy.  Both add much to the cast and would only take away from the book if they were not present.

Huddleston’s pencils are great.  Tight where they need to be and loose and flowing when not.  The vampires are effectively creepy, especially the children and definitely add to the story’s smooth progression.  I am hoping he is on board for the two sequels as well.  A consistent team would be ideal.

Even though I cannot find very much at fault at all of these two volumes, the familiarity of it all, the similar vampire conventions et al., keeps it from getting a perfect rating from me.

4 out of 5

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