Vampires: I love them. If it involves a vampire, I will read it, watch it, play it, hell, I would even become a vampire given the opportunity. From Dracula and Nosferatu to The Lost Boys and Fright Night — as the times have changed, so have these creatures. With all the creative configurations, we have never encountered an environmentalist vampire, until now…
Environment? This doesn’t sound like your typical vampire story.
I went into Dark Fang #1 completely in the dark (puns are good). I do my best to keep up on new books coming out and being such a huge fan of vampires, it surprised me when this one slid under my radar. Dark Fang begins in a very unique and modern way: with a cam girl. The stream is live, complete with detailed and explicit dialogue. Then we get a money shot (of sorts) that is out of the norm. Blood splatters on the screen as we meet Valla, who just attacked the young man that was watching the show over his phone, in public, which is kind of awkward. Who watches this stuff in public?
Valla picks up her victim’s phone and continues to watch. She notices the cam girl is earning a lot of tokens, a form of money, and she wants to learn how to make tokens of her own. Since she is relatively new to this world… wait, new to this world? Isn’t she a vampire? Hasn’t she walked the Earth for possibly thousands of years? No, she has not. Valla has been living underwater for the past 100 years, apparently.
You see, Valla used to be a fisherwoman. One night she was returning from fishing and was attacked by a vampire (who looked more like a Disney villain than a creature of the night). He turned her and made her his slave for himself and three wives. She ends up slaughtering he and his wives, but instead of returning to her village, she makes the choice to live in the ocean. Life under the sea is going well until this mysterious black plague affects her and her aquatic paradise. Valla returns to the surface for answers.
But is it good?
I am 50/50 on Dark Fang being good. The part of the story showing Valla earning money as a cam girl is the most entertaining part of the book. The other half where we learn about her ocean life drags and for a vampire tale, it doesn’t really click for me. I am all about writers taking a familiar character, creature, or monster and owning it, but I don’t know what Miles Gunter is shooting for here.
Valla has come up from the depths of the ocean to solve the mystery as to what has destroyed her world and that’s a premise with promise, at least, though I have my fingers crossed that Dark Fang isn’t going to be a big environmental PSA. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have an issue with creators sending a message to the readers about the bigger picture, but thus far Dark Fang doesn’t have a clear direction in the way it wants to go. So I feel that the message will come across half-hearted if Dark Fang does indeed head that way.
Kelsey Shannon’s art is the highlight of the comic for me. Despite the vampire that turns Valla looking too cartoonish, I like how Valla looks, as well as the world around her. There is an exquisite transition when Valla begins to tell her story before she became a vampire. Shannon’s art helped me get through the tougher parts of the story.
Dark Fang #1 both hits and misses. As I said, I don’t see the clear direction of the story yet. Valla wants answers surrounding what has happened to her home, but she has also become consumed with greed. I am curious where Gunter is going with Valla. She has potential and I hope the next issue clears some of the fog that clouded this first issue. Dark Fang is definitely an interesting take on the classic vampire tale, though I’ll need to see the next issue to determine if it is worth sparing from the sunlight.