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Vampire Tales, Vol. 2

Review

Vampire Tales, Vol. 2

Vampires are serious business. Before they were usurped and made unfathomably glamorous by Anne Rice and Stephenie Meyer, vampires were actual beings from folklore and carried a mythology that genuinely terrified people in a simpler time—and Marvel (thankfully) wants us to remember this.

The Vampire Tales series is many things, but modern parlance might call it a ‘zine. While a majority of these pages are filled with beautifully executed comics, this book also features extended essays and collages that delve into the real mythology of vampires, and critical analyses of literary works in and of the genre. In this way, it truly transcends the basic nature of a comic book and becomes something greater, and almost scholarly, in between pages about Marvel’s most famous vampire, Morbius.

Vampire Tales is about 4/5ths the size of a typical comic, and executed in gorgeous grayscale. There’s a very unique aesthetic that appears within these classic horror comics: unbelievably ornate, with an acute appreciation of light and shadow, and obviously, a penchant for the grotesque that Bronze Age comics did not generally explore, making these an entirely unique animal worth visiting. While the story of Morbius runs through each issue of the comic, these collected issues are also peppered with short vampire stories written and illustrated by a who’s who of respected comic creators.

Sure, we now live in a time in which every horror twist and turn has been explored ad nauseam and isn’t that difficult to anticipate, and it might be difficult to scare or creep out even the most casual or cowardly reader, but the trademark exuberant drama of Marvel is infectious and makes this collection pretty great. Men who want to become vampires to escape their jobs and wives, vampiric demons who haunt the snow, and other surreal depictions of vampires run the gamut of undead, bloodsucking fiction.

The back cover of this volume describes this as “explicit content,” though there doesn’t seem to be anything offensive inside, if you have any concept of vampires whatsoever. They’re sexy (but not overtly or displaying any nudity, aside from a scantily clad cavegirl), they sometimes die in violent ways (though stakes through the heart and burning alive are far more subtle ways to die than being physically torn in half, in full color, as Marvel’s been doing lately), and vampires are generally pretty elegant creatures, so they don’t spew any profanity. While the theme of vampires spends much time focusing on death by necessity, there’s nothing here that goes beyond the contents of the average modern comic.

Vampire Tales is an economical, classic way to leap onto the ongoing vampire craze while still exhibiting an appreciation for classic horror comics, and it’s a beautiful thing to behold.

Reviewed by Collin David on March 9, 2011

Vampire Tales, Vol. 2
written by Chris Claremont, Doug Moench, Roy Thomas, Steve Gerber, Don McGregor, Carla Joseph; illustrated by Ernie Chua, Tony Dipreta, Esteban Moroto and Paul Reinman

  • Publication Date: March 9, 2011
  • Genres: Graphic Novel
  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Marvel
  • ISBN-10: 0785153101
  • ISBN-13: 9780785153108