Publisher: Vault Comics
Writer: Ram V
Illustrator: Sumit Kumar
Colours: Vittorio Astone
Letters: Aditya Bidikar
Release Date: 3rd October 2018
An East India Trading Company ship departs London, sailing towards Calicut on the Malibar coast. On board is a sole passenger, an ancient evil in his own right, fleeing hunters who have discovered his true nature, who is about to find out that this new world holds terrors far older and deadlier than he could possibly have imagined.
I’ve come into this comic completely blind, I know nothing about any of the creative team’s previous work (sorry guys!) and I knew nothing about this story before I sat down to read it. I don’t know what I was expecting but this is a fantastic first issue! Set in the early 18th Century this starts as a Gothic horror that has all the familiar tropes you would expect but quickly changes pace and direction to become something totally different.
Our main protagonist Alain Pierrefont is the easily recognisable vampire of the genre; suave, handsome and the prototypical apex predator. However, the story doesn’t allow him to remain so. Hunted out of his home in London and sent packing by his coven as far from England as possible to protect their secrecy, Alain is very much out of his comfort zone.
What I found exceptionally good in this story is Ram V’s twisting of the typical vampire story to make his new environment more mysterious and deadly than our protagonist is. This is a country protected by powers that take one look at the mighty vampire, lord of the night and without a single word send him home literally with his head in his hands.
Ram is clearly a skilled writer who is passionate about what he writes and this is evident in every twist and turn of the story and the transition between delicate tender moments and shocking violence. If I were to take nothing else from this story it would be the desire to learn more about the mythology that is being referenced here as I know so little about it.
The artwork provided by Sumit Kumar and Vittorio Astone is similarly fantastic and I found myself enthralled from the very first panel. There is an intricate beauty on every page that helps bring the worlds and creatures in this issue to life, and accentuates the horror that much more effectively. What really stands out however is the impressive level of detail that goes into the incidentals such as the marketplace in Calicut, the wildlife, the jungle… just wonderful. This detail is further highlighted by the impeccably rendered lettering of Aditya Bidikar whose calligraphy is just perfect for this tale.
I am very impressed with this issue. I think that the mixture of traditional Gothic Horror and Indian mythology works effectively in taking us out of our comfort zone and into a new and intriguing world where nothing is certain and anything can, and probably will, happen.
The writer of this piece was: Mark Scott
Mark Tweets from @macoy_comicgeek