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"The Vain #1" Comic Review

Written by James Ferguson

Published by Oni Press

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Written by Eliot Rahal
Illustrated by Emily Pearson
Colored by Fred C. Stresing
Color assistance by Macy Kahn
Lettered by Crank!
2020, 32 Pages, $3.99
Comic released on October 14th, 2020

Review:

Sometimes a comic is so easy to explain with just a simple phrase. The Vain starts out with a basic idea. It's The Untouchables with vampires. That is not doing the book justice, as it quickly evolves into so much more. The comic follows a group of vampires, robbing blood banks across the country in 1941, and the FBI agent looking to take them down. That's where it starts.

This premise on its own is pretty great. Writer Eliot Rahal bounces back and forth between these two sides, the vampires and the agents. We quickly get an understanding of the personalities of all involved. While they're mostly kept separate, the narration from one is often imposed over the other, creating a nice contrast between the different sides.

A lot of ground is covered in The Vain #1, not only introducing us to the characters, but rocketing their arcs forward at a brisk pace. My one qualm in the storytelling is how long-winded Felix, the FBI agent is. There are times where his narration goes into too much detail, telling us things we can see in the artwork or can easily piece together. This could be a character trait too.

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While Felix is uptight and easily flustered, the vampires are anything but. This is ironic as the undead are the ones that are full of life. Artist Emily Pearson is at home in this setting, leaning into the styles and tone of this time period. There's a total cool feeling for each of the bloodsuckers that transcends the buttoned-up nature of the 1940s. Sure, they're wearing long gowns and full suits, but they look like the coolest kids in the room.

On the surface, the vampires appear like normal people. You wouldn't know that they're capable of literally sucking the life out of you. There's one scene in particular that really stands out, where Pearson leans into the gory possibilities that come from monsters like these. You'll know it when you see it.

Colorist Fred C. Stresing, aided by Mary Kahn, moves from a quaint, welcoming tone with a vibrant palette to a darker, more sinister look with this sequence too. You instantly understand that this blood bank heist may appear as fun and games, but blood and guts are on the line and often in the air when dealing with this crew.

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The dynamic between the vampires is playful yet organized. This is a team that's been pulling off heists for some time. They know how each other think. The two women are closer than the others, with a sweet relationship that is gawked at in this time period. There's a nice scene where they're dancing together. Letterer Crank! places the song lyrics around them like they're doing a little dance of their own, surrounding and serenading them.

Just when I thought I had The Vain down and knew where it was going, it takes an abrupt turn, re-framing everything. Again, the book would have been great on its initial premise. I would have been totally satisfied with that, but then we get something so much more and I'm even more excited for it. In a world where we've seen just about everything vampires can do, The Vain gives us something new and refreshing. It's got scares, action, drama, romance, and heart.

Grades:

Story: fivestars Cover
Buy from Amazon US
Cover
Buy from Amazon US
Cover
Buy from Amazon UK
Art: fourandahalfstars
Overall: 5 Star Rating

About The Author
James Ferguson
Lord of the Funny Books
James has a 2nd grade reading level and, as a result, only reads books with pictures. Horror is his 5th favorite genre right after romantic comedy and just before silent films. No one knows why he's here, but he won't leave.
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