Not another vampire story. If you could hear my voice saying those four words, you wouldn’t hear any of the exasperation that usually accompanies that phrase. Written by Steve Niles (28 Days Later: The Aftermath, Batman: Gotham County Line) and illustrated by Ben Templesmith (Wormwood: Gentleman Corpse, Fell) this story is an original take on the Vampire mythos that makes you wonder why no one had thought of this before.
The story takes place in Barrow, Alaska where the sun doesn’t set from mid-May to the beginning of August and doesn’t rise “…between November 18th and December 17th.” Niles uses this locale as the scene for a vampire invasion where the antagonists have no sun to drive them away. The takeover of the small town begins with the vampire horde disrupting all means of communication and taking out the town’s electricity. The vampires go on a killing spree feeding on every human they come across removing the heads from the corpses to ensure that none of their victims can become vampires themselves. Only a handful of the town’s residents survive (due to the extreme cold of the Arctic Circle, the vampire’s senses have been dulled) and end up taking refuge in an enormous unused furnace.
This is a well thought out, original story. Niles takes the average vampire story of the undead attacking the living while trying to keep it a secret from the rest of society and puts it into an ingenious location. This adds new variables to the classic story which had been left untapped for years. It makes one wonder why this hadn’t been done before. The story does not have tons of dialogue nor does it have pages of narration. There is no need for it. Ben Templesmith’s artwork is mesmerizing, filling in the gaps telling the story through mesmerizing visualizations. I found myself time and again just staring at the artwork, taking it all in, astounded by the creatures Templesmith had created and the beautiful environments he illumined. I never realized that gray could be so colorful. Even the sepia tones used for the New Orleans scenes were magnetic. Obviously this is a read I would suggest to any comic or horror fan.
Again I have to compliment the ingenuity of using a town which experiences 30 days of darkness to allow the bad guys to run wild. The thing that I have to give to the hero Eben Olemaun is that he didn’t give up the town just because one month out of the year is “working against them”. Too often Christians here in America give up too easily without looking at the bigger picture, without realizing how big our own hero is. One example I can think of is the whole Halloween debacle that rears its ugly head every year.
It’s getting to be that time of year again and every year I hear the same questions about Halloween, “Do you celebrate Halloween?” “Are you going to let your kid go trick-or-treating?” “You do know that it’s the devil’s holiday right?” And every year I end up biting my tongue for about 28 days. By October 30th, I’ve had all I can take and end up lecturing someone on how not letting their children go get free candy is some odd form of child neglect.
When I worked for a Christian bookstore I would see books being printed (and bought) about how Halloween is when the demons come out and play. Thusly, we should spare our children from this day and huddle together with our immediate families or with our church communities in our locked little homes and churches and pray that the demons don’t come and get us, just like the townspeople of Barrow, Alaska. I think that we have forgotten that “This is the day the Lord has made.” If the devil has a day, it’s only because God’s people handed it to him on a silver platter, “Here you are Mr. Satan, would you like me to refill your soda?”
We have forgotten that Halloween is celebrated because November 1st is All Saints Day in the Catholic Church and All Souls Day is November 2nd. Halloween is a warm-up to the remembrance of all the holy ones who have paved the way for us, those who have fought the fight and finished the race. Halloween is a day where we can look ahead to the celebration of those that have gone before us. Christians have one up on the townspeople of Barrow, Alaska. Their time out of night was taken from them and had to be taken back by force. We just simply need to stop giving it away.