After a very ‘vampire bland’ opening issue, things got weird in the second one, ending with a hell of a good cliffhanger. Can writer Jay Faerber and artist Fran Bueno continue giving us a fresh take on a well-worn genre? Is it good?
Graveyard Shift #3 (Image Comics)
As Liam paces and worries about his mysteriously absent/undead girlfriend, Hope returns and immediately starts getting frisky with him.
No question about where most of Liam’s blood is rushing to…
But before things get into R/NC-17 territory, he puts a halt to it and points out that she’s acting like she usually does when she’s drunk.
Turns out Liam was onto something, because Hope is drunk… ON HUMAN BLOOD! (DUN DUN DUN). This is supposed to be the part where he realizes that she’s a monster and must be destroyed, but instead, Liam listens to her (beautifully drawn) recounting of how she kept wanting to bite/kill/feed on innocent people. It’s a pretty harrowing story… until she conveniently finds an evil mugger to feast upon.
I was a little disappointed that the conflict of Hope’s hunger got resolved like this, but to Faerber’s credit, he still’s able to draw some good tension from it. Despite the person she killed being bad, Liam is still visibly shaken about what happened.
Later, he calls in a psychic/mystical expert type person named Wanda to see if there’s a way to help cure Hope of her vampirism. It’s a great scene that helps to establish how being a vampire may or may not spiritually affect a person while reinforcing the bond between the two main characters.
After that, the pair works together to find the creatures that did this to her. Liam’s detective work is helped by Hope’s sharp mind and some womanly intuition, which leads them to a suspect. Unfortunately, their scouting trip to gather information ends up turning into a potentially explosive confrontation.
Is It Good?
I’m really glad this book doesn’t suck (pun intended). Vampires have become so overused and neutered over the last couple decades that creating a book or comic with them can handcuff you from the start. Fortunately for the readers of Graveyard Shift, Faerber is doing enough interesting things to make this solidly entertaining tale.
For starters, the dynamic between Liam and Hope is fantastic. Of course there have been plenty of other ‘Human + Vampire’ partnerships in fiction before, but this one has the benefit of Faerber’s character work. Vampirism isn’t romanticized or embraced; it’s treated like a disease that threatens to harm both the carrier and the person she loves.
It also helps that the artwork by Bueno is superb. In addition to clean, beautiful line work, the shadows and texturing for Hope’s flashback scenes are incredibly well done.
Unfortunately, that’s one of the places where I felt like the book’s narrative stumbled a bit. After that great cliffhanger from the last issue, having Hope luck into some evil snack food just seems too easy. Also, I’m really not sure what the character of Wanda is supposed to do. I mean, sure, the scene with her was great, but it’s almost like she disappeared from the story out of nowhere. I suppose she could be tracking down a cure for Hope. If so, I hope we get to see it rather than being done off screen.
But other than that, Graveyard Shift #3 makes it two for two in the ‘Not Another Stupid Vampire Story’ department. I still believe my criticisms about the first issue were valid, but it’s well worth taking that medicine to watch Faeber and Bueno use its basic foundation to create something fresh and fun to read.